Wednesday, March 16, 2005

And the winning brisket is...

The Washington Post reports on a Jewish cooking contest held by Temple Beth El of Alexandria, Virginia, a Reform congregation. The two categories: brisket and kugel. The reporter is rapturous:
Brisket and kugel are the cultural equivalents of fried chicken and biscuits. For those unfamiliar with Jewish cooking, the meat and starch perform a kind of Gene Kelly-Debbie Reynolds routine. They belong together. Done right, brisket glides from muscled customer to tender fellow, while kugel serves as dependable and versatile sidekick. The dishes have become a little heavy to eat often, by today's standards. But they continue to grace Sabbath and holiday platters. The leftovers are to die for.

Unsurprising for a Reform community, keeping kosher seems to have been a low priority:
"I was supposed to cook a brisket today, but Giant had run out of them," said kugel contender Leslie Haemer of Alexandria.

Out of towners take note: Giant is an unlikely place to shop for kosher brisket. In fact, last I heard there were no kosher butchers in northern Virginia.

But that's not to say they aren't devoted to tradition:
Kingstowne resident Ted Exstein displayed his platter next to his family's Sabbath wine cup and candlesticks on an heirloom tablecloth.

And they certainly take Shabbos seriously:
Az me est Shabbes kugel, iz men di gantseh vokh zat. Goodman has chosen to interpret that phrase with a generosity of spirit: To eat a delicious kugel on the Sabbath will fill you with a sense of warmth, comfort and joy -- a feeling that, ideally, will remain with you until the next Sabbath, and the next kugel.

Yes, I think I saw that in the Mishnah Berurah.

Some winning recipes are here. But you'd have to serve the kugels at kiddush, it seems:
...certainly neither of the kugels would normally be served with a meat meal in a kosher home, since they are made with dairy products.

It doesn't say whether or not the milchig kugels were all judged before the briskets, but clearly they deserve the benefit of the doubt.

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