Cook | Hanukkah feast pairs tender ribs with crispy latkes

In Eastern Europe way back when, brisket was reserved for special occasions like weddings. Here in the U.S., many of us grew up with brisket served on Jewish holidays, but nowhere near a white wedding dress.

I adore brisket — the tender meat, the rich sauce. But I don’t like the tradition of cooking it twice. So this Hanukkah, why not skip the cumbersome step of slicing your brisket and sticking it back in the oven? Instead, grab some boneless short ribs, cook them brisket style and serve with latkes.

This recipe calls for boneless short ribs, though to be honest, I thought I was purchasing bone-in ribs at the store’s meat counter. I had a vision of elegant little ribs nestled between dainty piles of latkes. But as we say way too often in my house (mostly to the children), you get what you get and you don’t get upset.

Short ribs when cooked slowly at low heat are fork-tender and insanely rich. You’ll want to reserve the extra sauce and serve it on pasta later in the week.


Hanukkah Short Ribs (Brisket Style)

Serves 6

3 lbs. boneless beef short ribs

1 tsp. smoked paprika

1 tsp. salt

plenty of fresh ground black pepper

2 Tbs. olive oil

2 cups carrots, peeled and sliced in 1-inch pieces

2 cups onion, cut in 1-inch pieces

4 cloves garlic, peeled

1 cinnamon stick

2 whole star anise

1 Tbs. Dijon mustard

2 Tbs. tomato paste

1 cup red wine

28 oz. canned diced tomatoes with juice

1⁄4 cup soy sauce

2 Tbs. chopped flatleaf parsley

Cut short ribs in half. Arrange on a large plate. Season on all sides with paprika, salt and pepper. In a large skillet, heat oil until hot but not smoking. Working in batches if necessary (to keep short ribs in a single layer), brown short ribs, about 3-4 minutes per side.

Arrange carrots, onions, garlic, cinnamon stick and star anise on the bottom of a 9-by-13-inch roasting pan. Place browned short ribs on top of vegetables. Meanwhile, in a medium bowl, whisk together Dijon mustard, tomato paste, wine, tomatoes and soy sauce. Pour over short ribs. Cover tightly with tin foil.

Bake in 300-degree oven for 3 hours until beef ribs are fork tender. Remove short ribs to a platter. Remove and discard cinnamon stick and star anise. Transfer cooking liquid and everything else in the pan in batches to a blender. Blend till smooth. Transfer to a large saucepan. Bring to a vigorous boil and cook 20 minutes until reduced by a third. Ladle 1-2 cups over short ribs, reserving remaining sauce to serve with pasta another night. Garnish with parsley.


Crispy Little Sweet Potato Latkes

Serves 4-6

2 1⁄2 lbs. sweet potatoes, shredded

1 cup onion, shredded

2 eggs, lightly beaten

1⁄4 cup flour

1 1⁄2 tsp. salt

1⁄4 tsp. cinnamon

1⁄8 tsp. nutmeg

freshly ground black pepper

1 to 3 cups oil, depending on pan diameter

In a mixing bowl, stir together shredded sweet potatoes, onion and eggs. Stir with a fork. Sprinkle flour, salt, cinnamon, nutmeg and pepper over potatoes and onion. Stir until incorporated.

Heat 1⁄4 -inch oil in a large skillet. When oil is hot but not smoking, use 1 heaping tablespoon of shredded potato mix to form each little latke. Fry 3-4 minutes per side until golden brown, adjusting heat as necessary. Drain on paper towels and serve with brisket and applesauce.

Josie A.G. Shapiro won the 2013 Man-O Manischewitz Cook-Off, is the co-author of “The Lazy Gourmet” and works at the JCC of San Francisco. Her columns alternate with those of Faith Kramer. Her website is

Josie A.G. Shapiro

Josie A.G. Shapiro won the 2013 Man-O-Manischewitz Cookoff and is the co-author of “The Lazy Gourmet.”