By Barbara Beltrami
Like any holiday, Hanukkah deserves a special dinner, something beyond the ordinary but not too far away from the traditional. Along with the potato latkes and doughnuts, the spinning of the dreidel and the Hanukkah gelt for the kids, there is that moment when families and friends gather to celebrate and share their holiday joy around the table. Of course, there’s nothing wrong with a nice roasted chicken or a pot roast or hearty winter stew that everybody loves. But how about changing it up a little and doing a duck breast or sweet and sour brisket or Hungarian goulash?
Duck Breasts with Orange Sauce
YIELD: Makes 4 servings
4 approximately half-pound duck breasts
2 tablespoons freshly grated orange zest
¾ cup orange juice
¼ cup honey
¼ cup soy sauce
Freshly ground pepper, to taste
Fresh orange slices for garnish
Score fatty side of each duck breast in a cross-hatch pattern of approximately 1-inch squares. In a large resealable plastic bag combine zest, juice, honey, soy sauce and pepper. Add duck, turn to coat evenly, and reseal bag. Refrigerate at least 4 hours, preferably 8 or overnight. Remove breasts from bag; set marinade aside. Place duck in a large heavy skillet; do not preheat. Frequently moving pieces around, cook over low heat, skin side down, and turning once, until fat is rendered and skin is golden brown, about 15 minutes. Cover and continue cooking until thermometer inserted in thickest part reads 120 F for medium rare (about 3 to 5 minutes), longer for more well done.
Transfer to a cutting board, tent with aluminum foil and let rest for 10 minutes. Meanwhile, pour fat from skillet and discard or save for later use; replace with marinade; simmer until liquid is thick and syrupy, 5 to 10 minutes. Place duck on platter, spoon sauce over it and garnish with orange slices. Serve with wild rice, Brussels sprouts and a good red wine.
Sweet and Sour Brisket
YIELD: Makes 6 servings
2½ pounds beef brisket
1 onion sliced thin
Freshly squeezed juice of one lemon
1 bay leaf
2 to 3 tablespoons sugar
2/3 cup very hot water
Salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste
3 to 6 gingersnaps (optional)
Place meat in heavy pot or Dutch oven; add remaining ingredients, except gingersnaps. Cover and simmer 2½ to 3 hours, until tender. Taste and add more sugar or lemon juice as needed to balance the sweet and sour. If using, break up gingersnaps and stir into liquid from roast to thicken it a little. Slice and serve with sweet potatoes, green beans and carrots.
YIELD: Makes 6 to 8 servings
3 pounds chuck, cut into 1½-inch cubes
2 tablespoons melted vegetable shortening or oil
6 cups beef stock
2 garlic cloves
1 bay leaf
Salt, to taste
1 tablespoon paprika
Stirring constantly, brown meat in hot fat. Add stock, garlic, bay leaf, salt and paprika. Simmer slowly, 2½ hours; remove bay leaf and discard. Serve with broad noodles or mashed potatoes, cabbage or cauliflower and pickled beets.