kosher kitchen

Main dishes for a proper Rosh Hashana feast


The main dish of a Rosh Hashana meal is often beautiful to look at and delicious to eat. People think about the main dish for days and try to decide what to make. Meat? Chicken? Fish? All THREE? I don’t think you need all three, but you do need an alternative to red meat and maybe a vegetarian dish that can serve as a main dish for those who are vegetarians.

I usually make a brisket and some kind of chicken dish. I often use boneless skinless breasts and thighs for the chicken dish because my friends who eat chicken are also calorie watchers and like a simple, less caloric dish. That’s actually easy.

I rarely serve fish as a main dish, though I have had friends ask for a second fish appetizer as the main dish. That’s fine with me as I have learned to be flexible and easy when I have company. 

Holidays are all about traditions, but it is always nice to add a new recipe — even a main dish — to the mix and change up the menu a bit. And, by all means, try some dishes that are quick and easy to prepare. Not every dish has to take forever to prep and cook. One of my go to vegetables are simply steamed green beans fresh from the garden. My guests love them and ask for them every year. You can still have one show-stopping dish, but fill the rest of the menu with food that’s easy to fix.

The same thing goes for desserts. Make one showstopper and add another, simpler item. I always serve two kinds of sorbet with fresh fruit as a desert choice and it goes fast! 

On another note…

Rosh Hashana is my favorite time of year for a new cookbook — either to give or buy for myself, or both! There are so many new and fairly new books this year that choosing just a couple or even a few was hard, so I bought a bunch and have already earmarked some for New Year’s gifts. Great cookbooks make wonderful gifts for anyone, especially someone who is hosting the holiday.

There are quite a few new food books this year and some are fun, others inspiring. I loved “The 100 Most Jewish Foods,” by Alana Newhouse. It was almost right on the money, although I take issue with a few of the choices such as kosher sushi. It doesn’t seem to me to be an iconic Jewish food, but my kids disagree.

I also loved “Braided: A Journey of a Thousand Challahs,” by Beth Ricanati, MD, for its spirituality and its advice. It contains one simple challah recipe, so it is not a cookbook, but I have read it twice already and love it more each time. Great for the baker searching for some Zen moments in the kitchen.

I also am excited about “Simply Gourmet: A Completer Culinary Collection,” by Rivky Kleiman. It is a delicious cookbook filled with recipes I can’t wait to try and pictures that are mouth-watering. The recipes are approachable and many are quite simple to make. Buy one for yourself when you buy it for a gift!

Enjoy some new cookbooks and some new recipes as you get ready for these holy days.

Overnight Company Barbecue Brisket (Meat)

I have made my brisket overnight for about 6 years now. It always comes out moist and tender and fall apart delicious. In fact, I have pretty much given up hoping for nice neat slices, the meat is just too soft! This is a different recipe that is also cooked overnight.

1 whole brisket, 8-10 pounds, 

7 to 9 onions thinly sliced

1/3 to 1/2 cup canola oil

10 to 12 garlic cloves, minced, divided

1 large can crushed tomatoes

1 to 2 cups water

Barbecue Glaze

1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil

2 to 3 large onions, diced

1 jar (18 ounces) apricot jam

1/2 cup honey

1/2 cup dark brown sugar

1/4 cup molasses

2 cups ketchup

1/3 cup apple cider vinegar or regular vinegar

OPTIONAL (choose one):

•1 to 2 serrano peppers, seeded and chopped, to taste

•1/2 to 1 tsp. red pepper flakes, to taste

•1 to 2 tsp. Srirracha sauce, to taste

Heat a large skillet and add the canola oil. Add the sliced onions and sauté until the onions begin to turn lightly golden. Add half the garlic and mix well for one minute. Add the tomatoes and mix well.

Take a large roasting pan or 2 full sized, steam table pans (I double them for stability) and grease the bottom.

Place the meat, in the pan and pour the onion mixture over and around the meat. Add about 1 to 2 cups of water and cover tightly with a double layer of foil. Place in the preheated oven and roast for 30 minutes. Reduce the heat to 225 and roast for at least 7 to 9 hours. 

Remove from the oven and let sit for 20 minutes. Carefully remove the foil and skim off as much liquefied fat as possible. Refrigerate the brisket until needed, even overnight. Remove from the refrigerator one hour before heating. Remove any congealed fat and spoon the vegetables and most of the liquid into a large bowl.

Make the barbecue sauce.

Heat the olive oil in a large saucepan and add the onions. Sauté until golden, about 15 minutes or longer. Add the garlic and mix well. Add the jam and heat until completely melted. Add the honey, molasses and brown sugar and heat until bubbly. Add the ketchup, and vinegar and mix well. Taste and adjust seasonings, add the pepper or “heat” as desired. If too sweet, add a bit more vinegar. Add any ingredient to your taste.

Let the sauce simmer and bubble, to thicken a bit. Remove from heat and let cool.

Brush the top of the brisket generously with the barbecue sauce. Place in a 350 degree oven, uncovered and heat for 15 to 25 minutes. Brush with more sauce and heat for another 15-20 minutes. Brush once more and heat for another 15 to 25 minutes, until heated through. Let the barbecue sauce darken, but not burn. Let rest for 10 to 20 minutes. Slice and serve. Serves a crowd.

NOTE: If you like, you can heat the onions, mix with the barbecue sauce in the pan and serve with the meal over rice or roasted potatoes. My family likes the onions with the barbecue sauce — especially for sloppy sandwiches after the holiday.

Honey Sweet Roasted Salmon (Pareve)

Many people are moving away from mat on the holidays and leaning towards more fish and vegetarian main dishes. This is a delicious main dish salmon that is sure to please.

1 salmon fillet - 3-5 pounds -most places will cut a whole side if ordered in advance

2 to 3 red onions, thinly sliced

3 oranges peeled and sliced across the segments to make pinwheels (segments visible)

1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil

1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil, additional

1/2 cup orange juice, freshly squeezed preferred

1/2 cup orange blossom honey, more or less, to taste

2 to 3 tbsp. freshly squeezed lemon juice

Garnish, fresh dill, sliced scallions

OPTIONAL: Pinch cayenne pepper, to taste

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Place half the olive oil in the bottom of the pan and line with the onion slices. Drizzle the rest of the oil over the onions and place in the oven. Roast until golden brown, rotating the pan 2 to 3 times as needed, about 20-35 minutes. Add half the oranges in a layer over the onions. Reserve the rest of the orange slices. Place back in the oven for an additional 10 minutes. Remove from the oven.

Slide the onions and oranges to the sides and place the salmon in the roasting pan. Brush with the 1/4 cup additional olive oil. Spoon the onions and oranges on top and around the fillet.

Place the salmon in the oven and roast for 20 to 40 minutes until opaque all the way through.

Meanwhile, mix the orange juice, honey, lemon juice, cayenne and dill together until the honey is completely blended. Add the scallions and mix. After 15 minutes, remove the fish from the oven and pour about 1/3 of the juice over the fish. Return to the oven and cook until done.

Remove from the oven and let sit for 10 minutes. Remove to a large platter and spoon the onions and oranges around the fish. Place the remaining orange segments over and around the salmon, drizzle with more sauce and scatter with scallions and dill. Serves about 6 to 12, at about 5 to 8 ounces per person.

Honey Herb and Apple Chicken (Meat)

I have made this several time. I have added apricots, pure Maple Syrup instead of hone, some cinnamon and even some fresh cranberries and walnuts. It is one of those dishes that benefits from almost any added ingredient — or subtracted one, you like — or don’t! Enjoy! 

2 to 3 whole chickens (4 to 5 pounds each)

1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil or canola oil

Salt and freshly cracked black pepper

6 to 12 whole, peeled garlic cloves, each cut in half

2 lemons, each cut into 6-8 pieces

6 apples, sweet and tart, Cortland, Granny Smith, Braeburn, etc. each quartered and cored

3 to 4 leeks, white and light green parts only, outer leaves removed, 1/2-inch slices

4 to 5 onions, quartered and then thinly sliced

4 to 6 cloves garlic, peeled and coarsely chopped

12 to 14 sprigs fresh rosemary, chopped

12 to 14 sprigs fresh thyme, chopped

6 to 12 carrots, peeled and cut into 2-inch pieces

4 yams, peeled and cut in half lengthways and then in 2-inch chunks

2 cups chicken stock

Salt and pepper, to taste


4 to 6 Tbsp. trans-fat-free, pareve margarine

4 to 6 Tbsp. unbleached flour

1 to 2 cups pan drippings from the chicken or chicken stock

2 to 3 Tbsp. freshly squeezed lemon juice

2 to 3 Tbsp. honey

1/2 to 1 cup natural apple cider

OPTIONAL: Pinch of cayenne for some heat

Lightly grease one very large or two large roasting pan. Set aside. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.

Rub the chickens with olive oil and season with salt and pepper.. Fill the cavities with lemon pieces, garlic cloves, some rosemary and thyme, and two apple pieces. Tie the legs if you like. Place on plates. Set aside.

Prepare the rest of the ingredients and divide evenly among the pans. Nestle the chickens on the vegetables and wiggle them down a bit to settle in the centers of the pans. Drizzle the chicken stock evenly around the chickens. Place in the oven and roast the chickens until the internal temperature reaches 165 degrees in the thickest part of the thigh. Rotate the pans once.

Remove the pans from the oven. Test the vegetables for softness. If they are not cooked, remove the chicken from the pans to platters, and place the veggies back in the oven for 15 to 25 minutes. Add more stock if needed.

Meanwhile, Heat a saucepan and add the pareve trans-fat-free margarine. When it is melted and bubbly, whisk in the flour and whisk constantly until the flour turns lightly golden, about 60 to 90 seconds. Add some pan juices from the roasting pan and some apple cider, the lemon juice, and honey, and whisk until thickened, 3 to 6 minutes. If too thick, add more pan juices or apple cider. Taste and adjust seasonings and ingredients. 

Cut up the chicken and place on platters. Serve with the onions, leeks, yams carrots and apples. Serves 5 to 7 people per chicken.