This year, the stars have aligned to create an epic holiday mash-up that only happens once in a lifetime: Thanksgiving and the first night of Hanukkah TOGETHER on one crazy, poultry-and-carb-laden thrill ride.
This year, the stars have aligned to create an epic holiday mash-up that only happens once in a lifetime: Thanksgiving and the first night of Hanukkah TOGETHER on one crazy, poultry-and-carb-laden thrill ride. If you have eight fingers on one hand, THIS is your year to draw a MenorahTurkey and hang it proudly on the fridge.
There are plenty of parallels between the two observances that make them the perfect pair. Both honor occasions of devoutly religious people protecting their right to worship in the manner they choose. Both are excellent opportunities to reflect on where we come from and what we have to be thankful for. And both feature iconic dishes that are integral to the celebrations themselves.
I’m taking this opportunity to upgrade the two holidays. Hanukkah is pretty sweet, but wouldn’t it be better with a crispy-skinned, basted turkey on a bed of root vegetables? Yes. And sure, Thanksgiving is the ultimate food-lover’s holiday already, but what would happen if we added donuts? Good things.
I’m a sucker for thoughtful and well-executed fusion, and Thanksgiving and Hanukkah were practically begging to be fused. Here’s my menu plan:
- Cranberry cocktail: This drink combines two things I love dearly and then alcoholizes them. Cranberry and ginger get spiced right on up thanks to the inclusion of spiced rum. Pour half a can of ginger beer over ice. Add 2 oz. each of cranberry juice (real stuff) and the spiced rum of your choosing; stir, sip, and repeat.
- Pickled beets and apples: You’re gonna need some pickles to cut through all that rich, savory, tryptophanic goodness. Sweet, Sour, Salty, & Co. has a pickled beet-and-apple combo, not too sweet with a hint of spice, that will do the job nicely.
- Stuffing-flavored latkes with sour cream: Usually a latke purist, I considered simply substituting latkes for mashed potatoes and moving right along. But no, a theme’s a theme, and if not now, when? (Recipe below)
- Grandma Ruth’s kasha1 varnishkes: This recipe comes from Dinamo’s Mya Anitai (and her Grandma Ruth), who persuasively suggest serving it alongside brisket. If you’re upping the meat-to-carb ratio by adding brisket to your Thanksgiving table, to you I say “Gobble Tov.” (Recipe below)
- Brussel sprouts: No surprises here. Folks love crispy, roasted brussel sprouts.
- Roast turkey2 on root veggie “gelt”: The root vegetables, glazed with turkey juices, will shine like gold coins! LIKE YOU PLANNED IT THAT WAY!
- Sufganiyot: Don’t let the name, pronounced SOOF-gone-ee-OAT, fool you. These are nothing more than powdered jelly donuts. I’ll be outsourcing this component of the meal to Country Style Donuts because they’re the experts.
In true Hanukkah fashion, later in the week, I’ll use my leftover, pre-cooked latkes to make a potato latke kugel because carbs. The remaining shredded turkey will end up in matzoh ball soup. For the leftover donuts…JK, there will be no leftover donuts.
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Stuffing-flavored latkes with sour cream
- 1 large baking potato, peeled and shredded
- 1 small onion, peeled and diced
- 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
- 1 large egg, lightly beaten
- 2 teaspoons sage, finely chopped
- 1 teaspoon thyme, finely chopped
- 1 teaspoon celery salt
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
- Vegetable oil, for frying
- 1/2 cup sour cream
- 2 tablespoons parsley, chopped
- The key to nice, crispy latkes is removing the excess water from the potatoes. Place shredded potatoes in a cheesecloth or side towel, wrap up the bundle, and squeeze out as much water as possible. Give the potato sack a rest while you whisk the remaining ingredients together in a mixing bowl, and then given them another squeeze before combining everything and mixing thoroughly.
- Heat oil over medium high heat, and add latkes in batches, careful not to overcrowd the pan. Each scoop of latke should be packed tightly in a spoon before placing in the oil. Cook for approximately three minutes or until golden brown, and flip to cook for another couple of minutes. The best tool for the job is a springy little fish spatula. Add oil to the pan as necessary, but make sure to let it come up to temperature before adding each batch.
- Drain on paper towels and serve with sour cream and parsley.
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Grandma Ruth’s kasha varnishkes…to be served with BRISKET!
- 2 1/2 cups chopped onion
- 1/2 cup shamltz (chicken or duck)
- 3/4 cup kasha (buckwheat groats)
- salt and pepper
- 1/2 pound farfalle (bowtie pasta)
- Saute onions over medium heat with the shmaltz until onions are golden brown. Stir occasionally–roughly 10 minutes.
- Meanwhile, bring large pot of water to a boil for farfalle. In another medium saucepan, bring 1 1/2 cups of water to a boil. Stir in the kasha with a big pinch of salt. Cover and simmer until the kasha is soft and fluffy (10 to 15 minutes.) Take off heat and let stand covered.
- Salt the pot of boiling water and cook noodles until tender but al dente. Drain and combine with onions and kasha. Season with salt and pepper and serve.
In my family, brisket is always served with kasha. Nothing is more comforting than pouring the brisket gravy over the kasha and eating by the spoonful. The only thing better is knowing there’ll be leftovers to eat on the next night of Chanukah.
Tip for leftovers: take tender smaller pieces of brisket, cut/tear and mix with kasha, save brisket gravy, add spoonful, reheat and FEAST!
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