Korean BBQ Rice Bowls

Korean BBQ has been on my list to make for a while.  I was looking for something to grill for Father’s day that I could do hot and fast, as I did not have the patience for a long cook. I figured it would be a great time to give it a shot. Korean BBQ is traditionally cooked at the table by the diners on a small table top grill designed specifically for that purpose. You can use standard charcoal grill or even a gas grill in a pinch.  I used a Weber 22″ kettle (I have 5) with some Jealous Devil Max Xl Charcoal Briquets, and it worked great.

Meat For Korean BBQ

Korean BBQ includes several marinated meats including bulgogi (thinly sliced steak), kalbi or galbi (short ribs), and samgyeopsal (pork belly). For the samgyeopsal obviously I didn’t use pork, but I did have some beef bacon in the fridge I need to use up so it seemed like a good opportunity.  Ideally you would use fresh beef navel, but that can be hard to find, so I went with what I had. For the kalbi or galbi I used a thinly sliced mock tender from the chuck.  It is a poor man’s tenderloin, and if you slice it thin enough it works well for this application.


Traditional accompaniments eaten with Korean BBQ include several salads especially kimchi, a spicy fermented cabbage.  I wasn’t able to find kosher kimchi, and I wanted to make a quick version of my own.  For an approximation of kimchi I was able to find gochujang, a Korean fermented hot sauce, which I mixed with sauerkraut. If you can’t find gochujang, you can use sriracha as a substitute.

A sprinkle of scallions and toasted sesame seeds would also be appropriate here for some color, crunch, and to cut the richness and sweetness of the meat. While not traditional, I added some edamame (soy beans) still in the shell for a little freshness and a pop of color. I often eat  edamame straight from their pods as a snack, dipped in some spicy duck sauce. When you plate up, use a wide bowl.  Mine was too small, because that is what I had.

Don’t forget to check out some of our other Asian or BBQ recipes (great for the 4th of July)

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Kosher Korean BBQ Rice Bowl
Kosher Korean BBQ Rice Bowl
Prep Time
2 hrs
Cook Time
30 mins

A kosher version of a classic Korean meal, great for a twist on a summer BBQ.

Course: Main Course
Cuisine: Asian, BBQ, Korean, Kosher
Keyword: BBQ, Korean, Korean BBQ, kosher
Servings: 2 People
Author: Daniel Peikes
Bulgogi (Thinly Sliced Steak) or Kalbi (Short Ribs)
  • 1 Pear (Use an Asian pear if you can find it, otherwise any pear will do) Peeled, cored, chopped, and blended smooth
  • 2 tbsp Brown Sugar
  • 1 tsp White Pepper
  • 1 tbsp Ground Ginger
  • 3 Cloves Garlic Minced
  • 1/2 Cup Soy Sauce
  • 2 tbsp Honey
  • 2 tbsp Mirin or Sherry
  • 2 tbsp Toasted Sesame Oil
  • 1/2 lb Thinly Sliced Steak (Bulgogi)or Thinly Sliced Short Rib (Kalbi) Cut Across the Bones
Kosher Samgyeopsal (Beef Navel)
  • 1/2 lb Thick Cut Beef Bacon Raw beef navel would be more traditional but can be harder to come by
  • 2 Scallions Sliced Thin
  • Juice of 1 Lime
  • 1 tsp Gochujang (Sriracha will do in a pinch)
  • 1 tbsp Honey
  • 1 tbsp Soy Sauce
  • 1 tbsp Toasted Sesame Oil
  • 1 tbsp Rice Vinegar
Accompaniments and Garnishes
  • Black and White Toasted Sesame Seeds
  • Chopped Scallions
  • Frozen Edamame Still in the pod, steamed in the microwave
  • 2 Cups Cooked White Rice
Quick Kosher Kimchi
  • 1/2 Cup Sauerkraut
  • 1 Tbsp Gochujang (Sriracha will do in a pinch)
Bulgogi (Thinly Sliced Steak) or Kalbi (Short Ribs)
  1. You can use the same marinade for bulgogi or kalbi. If you are making both you may want to double the recipe.

  2. In a large bowl combine the pear, brown sugar, white pepper, ginger, garlic, soy sauce, mirin or sherry, honey, and toasted sesame oil. Add the steak or short ribs and allow to marinate for 1-4 hours

  3. Cook on a grill or on grill pan over high heat until nicely seared on each side,

Kosher Samgyeopsal (Beef Navel)
  1. In a large bowl combine the gochujang, scallion, lime juice, soy sauce, honey, rice vinegar, and toasted sesame oil. Add the beef bacon and allow to marinate for 1-4 hours

  2. Cook on a grill or on grill pan over high heat until nicely seared on each side,

Quick Kosher Kimchi
  1. In a small bowl combine the sauerkraut and gochujang. Mix thoroughly.

  1. Place you rice in a mound in a bowl. Top with your meat and garnish with kimchi, edamame, scallions, and black and white toasted sesame seeds.

Crispy Beef for a Kosher Christmas


Crispy BeefI eat Chinese food on Christmas and if I have time go to the movie theater too (or at least watch Die Hard). The custom for Jews to eat Chinese food on Christmas dates back to the late 1800s. I love making my own Chinese food. While it can be a bit labor intensive, it is easier than you think. Don’t worry if your dumplings don’t look perfect, your family will love them any way. This year I decide, by popular demand, to tackle a simple classic, crispy beef.

Better Crispy Beef

Crispy beef is a Chinese American appetizer that easily converts to a main dish when added to the stir fried vegetables of your choice and served along side white rice, so feel free to dress up the basic version of this recipe and make it your own. We are going to start out by tenderizing the beef by coating it in baking soda. This is similar to what we did in the past for other Chinese dishes such as beef and broccoli.  This changes the pH (remember high school chemistry) which spreads out the fibers of the beef, giving it a softer mouth feel. It is served with a simple sweet soy and sesame sauce, that can be augmented with red pepper flakes if you like  things on the spicy side.

Wok This Way

A wok is one of the most versatile cooking implements you can have. They are fairly inexpensive, especially if you have an Asian restaurant supply store near you.  I just would stay away from the non-stick ones and go with carbon steel.  Because of their high sides woks can be used for sautéing and shallow or deep frying. There is nothing like a fry fest Asian style.  Whether it be deep fried eggrolls or won-tons, lo mein or fried rice, or wok tossed sweet and sour chicken or spicy kung pow beef, I love it all.

What is your favorite Chinese dish? Let us know in the comments. Don’t forget to try some of our other Asian dishes:

Orange Chicken: A Jewish Tradition

Beef and Broccoli(ni) in Brown Sauce

Asian Recipe Collection

5 from 1 vote
Crispy Beef
Crispy Beef
Prep Time
40 mins
Cook Time
10 mins
Marinating time
1 hr

A Chinese food classic perfect for a kosher Christmas.

Course: Appetizer, Main Course
Cuisine: Asian, Chinese, Holiday, Jewish, Kosher
Keyword: Chinese, christmas, crispy beef, kosher
Servings: 4 Servings
Author: Daniel Peikes
  • 1 lb Pepper steak Sliced in to 1 inch squares, ¼" thick
  • 3 tbsp Baking Soda
  • 1/4 cup Soy Sauce
  • 1 tsp White Pepper
  • 1 tbsp Ginger Fresh is best, but dry will work in a pinch.
  • 1 tbsp Sesame Oil
  • 4 cloves Garlic Chopped fine
  • 1/2 cup Soy Sauce
  • 1 tbsp Ginger Fresh is best, but dry will work in a pinch.
  • 1/2 cup Honey
  • 1 tbsp Rice Vinegar
  • 2 tbsp Sesame Oil
Coating and Garnish
  • 1/4 Cup Corn Starch
  • Vegetable Oil For frying
  • 1 Bunch Scallions Sliced thin
  • 1/4 Cup Sesame Seeds For garnish
  1. In a mixing bowl combine with the baking soda and beef and place in the fridge for a half an hour.

  2. While the beef is in the fridge combine the marinade ingredients in a bowl: soy sauce, ginger, white pepper, and sesame oil. Remove the beef from the fridge rinse off the baking soda and add the beef to the marinade. Place back in the fridge for an hour.

  3. While the beef is marinating combine the sauce in the ingredients in a sauce pot: soy sauce, honey, ginger, rice vinegar, and sesame oil. Place the pot over medium heat and reduce by 25%.

  4. Remove the beef from the marinade and dust with corn starch.

  5. Add enough oil to a wok or large frying pan come about 1 inch up the side and place over medium heat. Once the oil is hot fry the beef in batches until golden brown and remove to a paper towel lined plate.

  6. Once the all the beef is fried, allow the oil to cool and pour it out of the wok or pan. Add the sauce to wok or pan and place over low heat. Add the beef to the sauce and stir to coat.

  7. Serve immediately topped with the sliced scallions and sesame seeds with white rice.


Slow Braised Brisket With Apples For Rosh Hashanah

BrisketSo I may be known for my smoked brisket but sometimes you need something a little more traditional. When it comes to Rosh Hashanah you want something like your Bubby used to make. My Bubby probably thinks a smoker is someone who buys Lucky Strikes, not a cooking apparatus.

This recipe is super simple. If you are hosting a Rosh Hashanah meal for the first time, it is the brisket recipe for you. By going with a slow braise you don’t need to baby the brisket.  You can just pop it in the oven, set a timer, and go work on your tzimmus. You can even put the roast in the oven late at night and let it cook overnight. This recipe will work well with any tougher roast. So if you happen to have a chuck roast or a top of the rib in the freezer, feel free to use that instead of the brisket.

I call for a cook time of four hours, but this recipe should be cooked to tenderness not time. If you like a little more chew in your meat, cook it less. If you like your roast fork tender, cook it longer.

Symbolism at Supper

Apples and leeks are foods traditionally eaten on Rosh Hashanah and are a great compliment to a traditional braised brisket. Jews eat apples with honey as a sign of a sweet new year and leeks are eaten as a symbol that we should be able to destroy our enemies as the word for leek in Hebrew is similar to the word for destroy.

Between the wine and the apples, this recipe is fairly sweet, as opposed to many other traditional brisket recipes that call for things like tomato paste, carrots, and potatoes. I also tried to avoid processed ingredients (unless you count wine as a processed ingredient), so put away the onion soup mix and the duck sauce.

Don’t forget the check out some of our other Rosh Hashanah recipes:

Braised Short Ribs with Apples and Pomegranate Honey Glaze

Delicata Squash Stuffed With Apples Dates and Leeks

Gluten-Free Honey Muffins & Ginger Maple Apple Chip

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Slow Braised Brisket with Apples
Prep Time
5 mins
Cook Time
4 hrs

A classic brisket recipe with addition of apples and leeks that is great for the Rosh Hashana season.

Course: Main Course
Cuisine: Holiday, Jewish, Kosher
Keyword: brisket
Servings: 5 Servings
Author: Daniel Peikes
  • 5 lb First Cut Brisket
  • 4 Large Apples Peeled, cored, and sliced in to to ¼" slices
  • 2 Leeks (or Onions) Greens removed, sliced in to ½" rounds, and cleaned thoroughly.
  • 4 Cups Sweet White Wine Use something you would drink. Do NOT use cooking wine.
  • Salt and Pepper To taste
  1. Season your brisket with salt and pepper on all sides to taste and preheat your oven to 250°F.

  2. Add a layer of apples and leeks to the bottom of your roasting pan.

  3. Add your brisket to the pan and cover with another layer of apples and leeks

  4. Slowly add wine until the liquid comes 3/4 the way up the brisket. You may not need all of the wine.

  5. Cover the pan tightly with foil and place in the oven. Cook for two hours, then carefully flip the brisket, recover with foil, and cook for another two hours or until desired tenderness is reached.

  6. Allow to cool for 15 minutes and slice in to ¼ inch slices and serve.



Beef and Broccoli(ni) in Brown Sauce

Beef and BroccoliBrown Sauce

Beef and Broccoli is an (American) Chinese favorite and a dish that my wife adores. Why, you ask? Brown sauce, that umami laden, slightly sweet elixir, that accompanies many Americanized version of Asian style offerings that come in little white pails. Recently, I have had more than one request to come up with a recipe for brown sauce. More specifically brown sauce similar to the one offered by a long gone local Chinese restaurant called Mitsuyan. It was a favorite of many of my friends, as it was located in close proximity to couple of the local high schools.  One day I will get up the nerve to ask the former owner for the recipe and to taste my version, although I have sneaking suspicion theirs came from a bottle.

Keeping It Kosher

Brown sauce calls for oyster sauce as one of its ingredients.  I have included a recipe for my oyster-less sauce as a substitute to keep everything kosher, but if that is not concern of yours then go ahead and use the real thing.

Velveting Beef

While brown sauce may be what draws people to beef and broccoli, it is nothing without a the beef.  The question is how does your local take out joint get their meat tender while cooking it hot and fast in a wok?  Usually to tenderize meat you either need low temperature and a lot of time or extremely high quality beef.  The answer is a processes called velveting, where you change the pH of the meat preventing the proteins from binding. (Sorry for giving you flashbacks from chemistry class). There are a few methods for velveting, but Cooks Illustrated came up with the simplest by far, coating the meat with a mixture of baking soda and water and letting it sit for a mere 5 minutes.

Taking Beef and Broccoli Up a Notch

One thing I like to do to put my own spin on a dish, is to pick one ingredient elevate it.  For this recipe I substituted regular broccoli for its thinner and more elegant cousin, broccolini. If you can’t find broccolini, regular broccoli will work just fine. You can even frozen broccoli if you must.  If don’t like broccoli you can use other vegetables such as mushrooms, snow peas, and baby corn.

0 from 0 votes
Beef and Broccoli
Beef and Broccoli(ni)
Prep Time
15 mins
Cook Time
15 mins

An elevated take on take out Chinese Beef and Broccoli

Course: Dinner, Main Course, Main Dish
Cuisine: Chinese
Keyword: Beef and Broccoli, Brown Sauce
Author: Daniel Peikes
  • 1 lb Sliced Pepper Steak Meat
  • 1 lb Broccolini Cut in to pieces and stems trimmed to a manageable size. Regular broccoli will also work. (Even frozen if need be).
  • 1 Large Red Onion Sliced thinly
  • 2 Cups Basic Brown Sauce See recipe below
  • 1/4 Cup Vegetable Oil
  • 1 tsp Baking Soda
  • 1 tbsp Water
  • 1/4 Cup Soy Sauce
  • 1/4 Cup Brown Sugar
  • 1/4 Cup Rice Vinegar
  • 3 tbsp Corn Starch
  • 2 Scallions Sliced thinly for garnish
  • 2 Cups Cooked White Rice
  1. Put the pepper steak in a large mixing bowl. In a separate bowl, mix the baking soda and water and then add to the meat. Stir to coat. Allow the meat to sit for 5 minutes.

  2. Make a marinade/coating for the beef by mixing the soy sauce, brown sugar, and rice vinegar in another mixing bowl. Add the corn starch to the mixture, stirring until completely dissolved. Pour the marinade over the meat and stir to coat. Allow the meat to marinate for 15 minutes.

  3. Add 2 tablespoons of oil to your wok or frying pan and put over the highest heat your stove can muster. Once the oil is hot, add half of the beef, making sure there is space between each piece. If the pan is too small to fit half the meat without pieces touching, then work in smaller batches. Cook the beef on each side until browned, and repeat with the other half of the meat. Add more oil between batches if necessary.

  4. Once all of the meat is cooked remove it from the pan. Add 2 more tablespoons of oil and the onions, stirring constantly. Once the onions begin to soften add the broccoli(ni). Keep the onions and broccoli moving until the broccoli begins to soften and get some color.

  5. Add the meat back into the pan along with the brown sauce and cook until the sauce reaches your desired consistency.

  6. Serve over rice and garnish with the scallions.

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Spicy Thai Chicken Tacos
Basic Chinese Brown Sauce
Prep Time
2 mins
Cook Time
8 mins

A classic Chinese sauce (at least in America)

Course: Condiment, Sauce
Cuisine: Chinese
Keyword: Brown Sauce
Servings: 4 Cups
Author: Daniel Peikes
  • 2 tbsp Corn Starch
  • 1/4 Cup Cold Water
  • 4 Cups Beef Broth Homemade would be ideal but store bought will work
  • 2 Cloves Garlic Minced
  • 1 tbsp Fresh Ginger Grated
  • 1/4 Cup "Oyster" sauce See recipe below
  • 1/2 Cup Brown Sugar
  • 2 tbsp Sesame Oil
  • 1/4 tsp White Pepper
  1. In a small bowl combine the corn starch and the water. Stir until fully combined to create a slurry.

  2. Add all the rest of ingredients to a saucepan over medium heat. Add the corn starch and water slurry and stir to combine thoroughly.

  3. Allow the mixture to come to a boil and then reduce the heat to low. Allow the sauce to cook until reduced by 25%.

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Spicy Thai Chicken Tacos
"Oyster" Sauce
Prep Time
2 mins
Cook Time
3 mins
Total Time
4 mins

Oyster sauce is a thick sweet brown sauce that will add some caramel notes to any dish. It is usually made by reducing the liquid from oysters, I use oyster mushrooms to preserve the moniker and give the dish an umami boost.

Course: Sauce
Cuisine: Asian
Keyword: Oyster Sauce
Servings: 1 Cup
Author: Daniel Peikes
  1. Add all the ingredients except the corn starch and water to a small sauce pot over low heat,stirring constantly. 

  2. Mix the corn starch and water in a separate bowl to form a slurry.  Once the sauce begins to bubble stir in the corn starch slurry and cook until the sauce is thickened and remove from heat.

Recipe Notes

This recipe contains affiliate links. We at MYV earn a small commission if you purchase an item through one of those links, which allows us to continue bringing you great tasting food.

If you liked this recipe, check out some of our other Asian recipes:

Pho gà-Vietnamese Spiced Chicken Soup

Thai One On: Drunken Noodles

Thai Chicken Won-tons With Peanut Dipping Sauce

Pit Beef With Homemade Horseradish Sauce

Pit BeefWith a small crowd this Passover I ended up with a quite a bit of leftover grated horseradish. I also had an extra French roast that sat uncooked in my freezer. The first thing that came to mind was roast beef with horseradish sauce, but I wanted to put my own spin on it.  The weather has also been getting better here, so I have been itching to fire up the grill. And then it came to me, pit beef. What is pit bit beef you ask? Pit beef is Baltimore’s answer to southern style BBQ. It takes a tough piece of meat and cooks it on a grill over charcoal or wood, and that is about where the similarity ends.

What is Pit Beef?

Pit beef uses a lean cut of meat cooked to medium rare, sliced thinly, and served on a kaiser roll.  It usually calls for an eye of round, but that is not a cut that is generally available in the kosher market.  The French roast I used seemed to work well and is readily available wherever kosher meat is sold.  Ideally you would cut it on a deli slicer, but that is not practical for the average home cook. Use your longest, thinnest, and sharpest knife.  Cut against the grain and take your time and it will be OK.

Most of the recipes I have seen for pit beef call for oregano (which to me sounds like Italian beef). I went with celery seed for a Chicago style twist (yes, I know a Chicago style hot dog uses celery salt not celery seed). The tricky part about making pit beef is getting medium rare most of the way through with a good char on the outside using the grill.  The way to accomplish this is to use two zone cooking to split your grill between direct and indirect heat.

Check out some of our other grilling recipes and BBQ related adventures here:

BBQ Related Posts

0 from 0 votes
Pit Beef
Pit Beef With Homemade Horseradish Sauce
Prep Time
10 mins
Cook Time
1 hr

Baltimore's answer to BBQ, with a Chicago twist.

Course: Dinner, Lunch, Main Course, Meat, Sandwich
Cuisine: American, BBQ, Kosher
Keyword: BBQ, Beef, kosher, pit beef
Author: Daniel Peikes
Pit Beef
  • 4 lb French Roast
  • 1/4 Cup Mustard
  • 3 tbsp Granulated Garlic Power
  • 3 tbsp Granulated Onion Powder
  • 3 tbsp Paprika
  • 2 tbsp Salt
  • 2 tbsp Pepper
  • 2 tbsp Celery Seed
  • 6 Kaiser Rolls
  • Wood Chips Optional
  • Charcoal
  • 3 Onions Sliced into thick rounds
  • 3 Pickles Sliced into rounds
Horseradish Sauce
  • 1/2 Cup Horseradish Root
  • 1/2 Cup Mayonnaise
  • 1 tbsp Mustard
  • 1 Clove Garlic
  • 1 tbsp Lemon Juice
  • Salt To taste
  • Pepper To taste
  1. Trim any silver skin or large pieces of fat from the roast. Also, trim off any thin pieces of meat from the end of the roast (they will burn) to get a nice uniform shape.

  2. Coat the roast on all sides with a thin layer of mustard.

  3. Combine the garlic powder, onion powder, paprika, salt, pepper, and celery salt in a small mixing bowl. Coat the roast on all sides with a layer of the spice mixture. The layer of the spice mixture should be just thick enough so you can no longer see the mustard.

  4. Create a two zone fire in your grill. The goal of this is to create one area of your grill that is meant for high, direct heat similar to a stove, and a second area with lower, indirect heat similar to your oven. This is done by banking a small amount of coals on one side of your grill. I would recommend using fewer coals than you think you need. You can always add more coals to increase the heat, but it is a lot harder to remove lit coals to cool down your grill. If you have, throw on some wood chips or chunks for additional smoke flavor. The wood is not a must, but it is will give your meat a little something extra.

  5. Put the roast on the cooler, indirect heat side of the grill (the side without the coals). Put the probe from your thermometer in the middle of the thickest part of the roast. Cover the grill and allow the roast to cook until it hits 130°F.

  6. Once the roast hits 130°F remove the thermometer and move it to the hotter, direct heat side of the grill and cook on each side until you get a nice char. This should get the internal temperature to about 145°F, medium rare. Remove the roast from the grill to a cutting board and cover loosely with foil, allowing it to rest for at least ten minutes

  7. While the roast rests, throw the onions on the hot side of the grill and cook until they start to char. Keep an eye on them as they will burn easily and be careful to not let them slip through the gaps in the grill grate.

Horseradish Sauce
  1. Peel the horseradish and add it along with the mayo, garlic clove, lemon juice, mustard, salt and pepper to the blender or food processor. Blend until smooth. This can be done in advance, but not too early or the horseradish will start losing its bite.

  1. Once the roast has rested, slice it as thin as you can against the grain. This will shorten the fibers of the meat creating a more tender tasting piece of meat.

  2. Toast the buns on the hot side of the grill, being careful not to let them burn. Put some of the horseradish sauce on the bottom of the bun, then the pickles, followed by the sliced beef. Top with the grilled onions and the top half of the bun. Serve immediately.


Pulled Beef Filled Mini Doughnuts With a Trio of BBQ Dipping Sauces

Pulled Beef DoughnutsWhat’s the Deal With Doughnuts

Chanukah (or Hanukkah if you prefer) is upon us. On of the things I love about Chanukah are the doughnuts (or is it donuts).  Ok, I love doughnuts any time of year, but on Chanukah I have a good excuse. Doughnuts, along with other fried foods such as latkes, are eaten on Chanukah to celebrate the miracle of one night’s worth of oil found after the Greeks invaded the Temple burning for eight nights in the menorah.

Everything is Better With Brisket

If you follow this blog,then you know one of my culinary passions is BBQ. How could I combine doughnuts and BBQ you ask? I happened to have a smoked 2nd cut brisket in freezer waiting for just such an occasion. I felt like I needed some sort of sauce to compensate for the lack of frosting or creamy filling.

This gave me the opportunity to showcase three different regional styles of BBQ sauce. You can choose to serve any or all of them. These included a spicy southwestern chipotle sauce, a sweet Dr. Pepper sauce in the Kansas City style, and finally a tangy South Carolina mustard sauce. I originally thought of adding the sauce to beef filling or tossing the doughnuts in the sauce, but after talking to some friends, I ultimately decided to keep the sauce on the side.  This allows the diner to chose the type and quantity of sauce the desire and prevents the doughnut from getting soggy.

Another goal of this recipe was to make something a little more bite sized. Smaller donuts make a great hors d’oeuvre for your holiday party or an appetizer for shabbat dinner. Originally, I planned to make doughnut holes (AKA munchkins), but soon learned they are too hard to stuff with the brisket. I eventually settled on a mini doughnut ball slightly larger than a golf ball, which worked perfectly. As I have said many times before, I am not baker so I did start with Alton Brown’s yeast doughnut recipe  and then modified it to be a bit fluffier and to make smaller, rounder doughnuts.

Don’t forget to check out Rachel’s latest Chanukah recipe for the other staple of the holiday: Potato Latke Waffles

0 from 0 votes
Pulled Beef Doughnuts
Pulled Beef Filled Mini Doughnuts
Prep Time
4 hrs
Cook Time
4 hrs

A savory twist on a Chanukah treat.

Course: Appetizer, Dessert, Hors d'oeuvre, Side, Snack
Cuisine: American, Holiday, Jewish, Kosher
Keyword: Beef, brisket, Doughnut, Pulled Beef
Servings: 12 Doughnuts
Author: Daniel Peikes
Doughnut Dough
  • 12 oz All Purpose Flour Yes, get a scale!
  • 2 Large Eggs Beaten
  • 1/4 cup (Non-dairy) Milk I used soy milk to keep it kosher, but if you don't need it to be kosher you can use regular milk.
  • 1-1/4 oz Vegetable Shortening
  • 2 Envelopes Instant Yeast
  • 1/3 cup Warm Water About 110°F
  • 1 tsp Salt
  • 1/4 cup Sugar Optional, if you want a sweet doughnut
  • Vegetable Oil For Frying. Enough to come 3" up the side of your pot.
Pulled Beef
  • 1 2nd Cut Brisket or Chuck Roast
  • 4 Cups Beef Stock Homemade would be best, but boxed will work in a pinch. You may not need all of it.
  • 1 Carrot Peeled and roughly chopped
  • 1 Onion Peeled and roughly chopped
  • 3 Cloves Garlic Peeled and roughly chopped
  • Salt and Pepper To taste
  1. Add the yeast and warm water to small bowl and stir until the yeast is completely wet.

  2. In another bowl combine the (non-dairy) milk and the shortening. Microwave until the shortening is melted, about 30 seconds. Alternately, you could heat the mixture in a saucepan. Set the mixture aside to cool.

  3. In the bowl of your stand mixer, combine the yeast and water mixture, the shortening and milk mixture, the salt, and the eggs, with the paddle attachment on the "stir" setting. At this point, add the sugar if you want a sweet doughnut. Slowly incorporate the flour until the mixture forms a cohesive mass.

  4. Switch to the dough hook and and knead for 5 minutes.

  5. Move the dough to an oiled bowl and cover. Allow the dough to rise on the counter until it doubles in size.

  6. Divide into 12 pieces and roll each piece in to a ball a little larger than a golf ball and allow them to rise on the counter until they double in size again.

  7. Add 3 inches of oil to a large heavy pot or dutch oven and put on the stove over medium heat. Once the oil get to 350°F, fry the doughnuts in batches on each side until golden brown.

  8. Put aside to cool.

Pulled Beef
  1. Season the brisket or chuck roast heavily with salt and pepper.

  2. Add the carrots, onions, and garlic, to a large pot or Dutch oven. Place the meat on top of the vegetables. Add enough of the beef stock to cover the meat about 3/4 of the way.

  3. Cover the pot and place the it on the stove over medium heat and allow the meat to braise until tender.

  4. Once the meat is tender, remove from the pot and allow it to rest until cool enough to handle, and shred using two forks.

  5. Using a knife, cut a slit in the doughnuts and stuff with the meat. Serve immediately with the BBQ sauce of your choice.

0 from 0 votes
Pulled Beef Doughnuts
Chipolte BBQ Sauce
Prep Time
5 mins

Add a kick to your cooking

Course: Sauce
Cuisine: BBQ, Mexican, Southern
Keyword: BBQ, Chipotle, Sauce
Servings: 1 Cup
Author: Daniel Peikes
  • 3/4 Cup Ketchup
  • 3 Chipotle peppers in adobo sauce, finely chopped These come in a small can is the Latin food section of your local grocery store.
  • 1/4 Cup Apple Cider Vinegar
  • 2 tbsp Dark Brown Sugar
  • 1 tbsp Garlic Powder
  • 1 tbsp Onion Powder
  • 1 tbsp Ground Cumin
  1. Add all the ingredients to a small sauce pot and simmer until all the solids are dissolved.

0 from 0 votes
Pulled Beef Doughnuts
South Carolina Mustard Sauce
Prep Time
2 mins

A tangy sauce from the south

Course: Sauce
Cuisine: American, Southern
Keyword: BBQ, Mustard
Servings: 1 Cup
Author: Daniel Peikes
  • 1/2 Cup Yellow Mustard
  • 1/4 Cup Apple Cider Vinegar
  • 1/4 Cup Prepared Horseradish Mayo Sauce
  1. Add all the infringements in a bowl. Stir until thoroughly combined.

5 from 1 vote
Pulled Beef Doughnuts
Dr. Pepper BBQ Sauce
Prep Time
5 mins
Cook Time
10 mins
Total Time
15 mins
Course: Sauce
Cuisine: BBQ
Author: Daniel Peikes
  • 1/2 Cup Dr. Pepper Syrup You can reduce a 2L of Dr Pepper or use Soda Stream Dr. Pete Sparkling Drink Mix
  • 1 Cup Ketchup
  • 1/4 Tsp Black Pepper
  • 1/4 Cup Cider Vinegar
  • 1 Tbsp Smoked Paprika
  • 1 Tbsp Garlic powder
  • 1 Tbsp Onion Powder
  • 1 Tsp Ground Nutmeg
  • 1 Tsp Ground Cumin
  • 1/4 Cup Molasses
  1. Combine all ingredients in a small sauce pot and simmer for about 10 minutes on low heat while stirring regularly.


Better Burger Guide for Memorial Day (and Lag BaOmer)

BurgerThis coming Monday is Memorial Day, which is the unofficial start of summer, and Lag BaOmer, which was this week, plays a similar role on the Jewish calendar. More importantly it signals the start of grilling* season, although I personally believe if you try hard enough, any season is grilling season. The staple of any good grill session is the humble hamburger. I want to take you on a journey beyond the basic burger and bun bonding and explore the intricacies of this iconic institution.

It seems these days there are high end hamburger huts hitting every ‘hood, but paying $20 for a burger hurts. You can definitely make a perfect patty in your personal palace for a petite percentage of that price. Composing a burger is not hard, it is little bit like putting on a play or making a movie. If you pick the the right star, supporting actors, and a good setting, it forms a cohesive story and things come together nicely.  With some simple techniques, basic ingredients, and a little creativity you can make a burger as good as any greasy spoon.

Burger Ingredients

Where’s the Beef?

I recommend preparing all your components ahead of cooking, a process the French refer to as ‘mise en place’ which means “everything in its place”. For that reason, I will start with the ingredients and leave the cooking for last. When designing a burger, I like to start from the middle and work my way out. The patty should be the star of the show, with everything else complimenting it. Beef is the obvious place to start, but what kind of beef to get is the question. Most people will just pick up a pound or two of ground beef when making burgers, but what are they really getting? Ground beef is defined by the USDA as follows:

“Chopped Beef” or “Ground Beef” shall consist of chopped fresh and/or frozen beef with or without seasoning and without the addition of beef fat as such, shall not contain more than 30 percent fat, and shall not contain added water, phosphates, binders, or extenders.

Generally kosher ground beef comes from the chuck (AKA the shoulder) of the cow, although it can technically it can come from any (kosher) part of the cow. The chuck has a good amount flavor and fat due to the fact that it is a muscle that the cow is constantly using.  If you like, you can ask your butcher to  grind a specific cut to get a different flavor and texture but expect to pay more for the privilege.  Occasionally you will see ground meat in the grocery store marked “Hamburger” which is defined by the USDA as follows:

“Hamburger” shall consist of chopped fresh and/or frozen beef with or without the addition of beef fat as such and/or seasoning, shall not contain more than 30 percent fat, and shall not contain added water, phosphates, binders, or extenders.

So the basic difference between “Ground Beef” and “Hamburger” is (assuming you have an honest butcher) “Hamburger” can have fat added to it and “Ground Beef” cannot. At the end of the day there is very little difference. What I pay more attention to is the fat content.

Facts About Fat

You need a good amount of fat for juicy burger so I wouldn’t worry if your meat gets close to the 30% limit set by the USDA. As I said before, most kosher ground beef comes from the chuck and ground chuck is usually 80 to 85 percent lean or 15 to 20 percent fat, which I think works well for a burger. I wouldn’t go any leaner than that, and I would definitely stay away from anything marked “Extra Lean”. Remember, fat is flavor! So for my money off the shelf kosher ground beef, is way to go. Just make sure to check that the fat content is at least 15%.

Other Options

For something a little fancier, try making your patty out of ground veal or lamb both of which should contain the requisite amount of fat. If you want something healthier you can try ground turkey but make sure not to dry it out. Finally for the vegetarians you could go with some sort of veggie burger, but you would need to ask Rachel about that.

Patty Formation

I like my hamburgers on the larger size, what one might refer to as a pub burger. I would go with 8 oz of meat shaped in to a 1-1/4″ thick by 4″ in diameter patty. Don’t pack your meat too tight, and don’t overwork it. Just lightly shape the burger using a minimal amount of pressure or you will end up with a tough and dense hockey puck.


Seasoning in a burger acts like make up for an actor, they are there to bring out the best qualities of the star. Good beef needs little more than salt or pepper.  People debate if you should season your meat before making your patties. I generally don’t, especially because kosher meat is somewhat salted in the koshering process, and I don’t feel the need to add another step.  That being said I always season the tops and bottoms of my burgers.

If you really want to, you can use something like seasoned salt or your favorite rub to add a little flavor, but realize you are covering up the flavor of the beef. NEVER mix things like onions, garlic, bread crumbs, or matzo meal in to your burger mixture. You will just end up overpowering the flavor of the meat and creating a burger that either falls apart or is dry. Some people like to add egg as binder, but I have never seen a good reason to do so. I prefer to add my flavor augmentation via toppings and sauces.

Burger Toppings

Toppings and sauces are the supporting actors that provide some variety in the burger show. The options for burger topping are endless. The trick is to use restraint and make sure there is balance.  I would limit it to four toppings. Lettuce, pickles, onions, and tomatoes are classic, although I personally abhor raw tomatoes and raw onions. However, I love caramelized onions. Sauteed mushrooms are a great option to add an earthy note that pairs well with the smokey flavor of (Kosher) bacon. Pickles add acidity along with a great crunch to almost any topping combination. Finally, if you want to add some richness and moisture there is nothing like a sunny side up egg with a runny yolk.

One final note on toppings, cheese is notably absent from this guide. As a kosher keeper, mixing milk and meat products is prohibited for me and the few times I have tried non-dairy cheese it just has not been to my liking. For me a fried egg adds the gooeyness and richness that the cheese gives.  That being said, if kosher isn’t your thing, go for the cheese.


When it comes to sauces use extreme restraint. Too much sauce is a one way ticket to a soggy bun. Limit your number of sauces to a maximum of two, one of which should be mayonnaise based. I recommend putting your mayo based sauces on the bottom half of your bun, as the fat in the mayo will act as a moisture barrier to prevent your bun from getting soggy.  Thousand Island or “Special Sauce” are mayo based classics, but you can use mayo to carry all sorts of flavors. I love adding sriracha to my mayo for a little kick or some garlic and tarragon for some zip. For sweeter sauces obviously ketchup is a classic, but feel free to make a barbecue sauce like my Dr. Pepper sauce as a way of taking it up a notch.  Finally, it is my opinion that mustard never belongs on a hamburger. Save it for the hot dogs.


If the meat is the star of the show and toppings and sauces are the supporting actors, then the bun is the setting. It shouldn’t be too big, small, hard, or soft. Pick your bun based on what is going in it which is why I put buns last in the ingredient section.  Your bun should have roughly the same diameter as your cooked burger. If you have a lot of soft ingredients use a softer bun, if you have some heartier ingredients use a little harder of a bun.

All buns should be toasted to help prevent them from getting soggy, but make sure your temperature is hot enough to toast the surface to a golden brown without drying the bun out and not so hot that it burns. Never walk away from your buns while they are toasting, or they will burn.

The standard sesame seed bun is a classic that you can never go wrong with. The sesame seeds add just touch of texture to an otherwise soft bun that takes it from one note to a melody. Pretzel buns have become extremely popular lately. They are a little more hearty than your standard burger bun, making it great for a burger that is a little on the wetter side. For something a little different, try an onion or kaiser roll.

Cooking Your Burger

Burgers On The GrillAs far as I am concerned, to cook a burger correctly you need direct heat, applied either via a grill or a griddle, to create a sear. A sear is the brown crust that forms on meat when cooked with direct heat, that adds a tone of flavor.  With apologies to mothers everywhere, baking a burger on a sheet pan is not the way to do it. You end up without any sear and by the time your burger is cooked through, it is usually dry and sitting in a pool of grease.

By using direct heat you take advantage of the Maillard reaction which creates a sear and cooks your burger with enough heat to cook it through without drying it out. Don’t over cook your burgers. I personally think a burger should be cooked to a perfect medium, but if you like it cooked a little more I recommend making your patty thinner.

Grilling Your Burger

If you know me, you know I love cooking outdoors over charcoal. Rachel and I have been competing in Kosher BBQ competitions for about 5 years. Cooking over charcoal adds a great char flavor. Start by building yourself a nice hot fire with all of your coals on one half of your grill, creating what I refer to as a 2 stage fire. If you have a chimney starter use it, it is a great way to get your charcoal hot quickly, but never use lighter fluid as it can give your burgers a chemical flavor.  Don’t put your burgers on until your coals are all white otherwise you might end up with some acrid flavors.

Grill your burgers until you get a sear on each side, flipping only once. Whatever you do, please don’t smash your burgers, you will just squeeze out all of the juiciness. If after you get your sear you want your burger cooked a bit more, move it to the side of the grill without coals and put the lid on for a few minutes to achieve your desired level of doneness. You can accomplish a similar result with a gas grill by only turning on only half of your burners, although you won’t get the same flavor you get from charcoal.

Fried/Griddled Burgers

Not everyone has the ability to cook outside. Maybe it’s too cold where you live (not that weather is a real excuse), or you live in an apartment without any place to grill (you should really consider moving). If your stove has a griddle attachment use it, otherwise I recommend using a cast iron skillet. Put the skillet over high heat. After a couple of minutes hold your hand over the skillet and if can’t hold your hand over the pan more than 3 seconds it is hot enough. Now cook your burgers similarly to way I described above when using a grill. Cook on each side until you get a sear on each side flipping only once. If you want to cook your burger a bit more, pop the skillet in a 350°F oven until you achieve your desired level of doneness.

Is there one right way to make a burger? I don’t think so. But I know there are definitely wrong ways. I hope I have been able to impart some wisdom when it comes to burger cookery, or at least teach you what not to do. How do you like your burger? Do you put any interesting toppings or sauces on your burger? Do you have any other burning burger questions? Let us know in the comments.

*You’ll notice nowhere in this post did I use the terms BBQ, barbecue, or barbeque with the exception of when referring to sauce. Burgers are grilled not barbecued. What’s the difference you ask? About 300°F and several hours, but that my friends is a discussion for another time.

Cinco De Mayo: Italian Beef Tacos On Poblano Tortillas Topped With Pickled Red Onions and Roasted Tomatillo Salsa

Cinco De Mayo: Italian Beef Tacos On Poblano Tortillas Topped With Roasted Tomatillo Salsa and Pickled Red Onions

Italian Beef TacosI personally consider tacos the world’s most perfect food. There really in no wrong way to make a taco. Crunchy or soft, flour or corn, they are all good in my book.  As for proteins, tacos are a great way to use up leftover chicken or roast, skirt steak i(one of my favorites), or of course you could simply use ground beef. You could always go vegetarian with refried beans or soy based immitation meats. When it comes to toppings the sky is the limit. Salsas of every flavor and color are classic, slaws are an excellent addition, and I love pickled vegetables of almost any type.

The way the ingredients come together is nothing short of magical. Tacos are one of the world’s best hand-held complete meals.

With Cinco de Mayo being this week, Rachel and I decided to do a taco challenge.  But I couldn’t just make tacos, I needed to take it up a notch. I needed to make my own tortillas, but I couldn’t just make boring tortillas.  To put my own spin on tortillas I added roasted poblano peppers to the tortilla dough. Poblano gives the tortillas a little bit of fruity heat and a green tint.

For my protein I went with a Chicago classic, Italian beef. This humble dish uses cheaper cuts of beef with a heavy dose of spices and herbs to create flavor. You also slice it thin to create a softer texture.

Finally I topped my tacos with a spicy green tomatillo salsa and pickled red onions to add some freshness and brightness. I have included a recipe for each part of my taco, but as far as final construction just layer all the ingredients as you see fit.

Don’t forget to check out Rachel’s taco post: Cino de Mayo: Tostitos Tacos

Recipe: Poblano Corn Tortillas

0 from 0 votes
Italian Beef Tacos
Poblano Corn Tortillas
Prep Time
5 mins
Cook Time
5 mins
Total Time
10 mins

Sure you could buy tortillas at the store, but they are pretty easy to make. By adding in roasted poblano peppers you get a little more flavor than a regular tortilla.  Poblanos have a nice fruity flavor with just a touch of heat.

Course: Hangover Food, Main Course, Snack
Cuisine: Latin, Mexican, Tex-Mex
Keyword: Mexican Food, Taco, Tortilla
Servings: 12 Tortillas
Author: Daniel Peikes
  • 2 Cups Massa (AKA Corn Flour)
  • 1 1/2 Cups Water
  • 1 tbsp Salt
  • 4 Large Poblano Peppers
Special Equipment
  • Tortillas Press (Or a rolling pin if you must)
  • Cast Iron Skillet or Heavy Frying Pan
  • Food Processor or Blender
  • 2 Pieces Wax or Parchment Paper
  1. Set your oven to 400°F. Place the poblano peppers on a lined baking sheet. Roast until they start to blister, turning to make sure they cook evenly on both sides.

  2. Remove from the oven and allow to cool. Once cooled, remove the stem, seeds, and skin. The skin should come off easily by scraping with a knife. Add the poblanos to the food processor or blender and blend until smooth.

  3. Add the massa, blended poblano, and salt to a large mixing bowl. Slowly stir in the water, adding a little at a time, until the mixture is the texture of play dough.

  4. Roll the dough into balls a little larger than a golf ball. Place the balls one at a time between two pieces of parchment or wax paper and press the ball in to a flat disc using a tortilla press or a rolling pin.

  5. Place the skillet over high heat and cook the tortillas on each side until they start to brown.

Recipe: Italian Beef

0 from 0 votes
Italian Beef Tacos
Italian Beef
Prep Time
10 mins
Cook Time
2 hrs
Cooling Time
30 mins
Total Time
2 hrs 10 mins

A Chicago classic thought to have been originated by Italian immigrants who brought home tougher cuts of beef which they then cooked slowly with herbs and spices, cooled, and sliced thin to make sure there was enough to go around. You can place the meat on your favorite roll or even in a taco, although a soft Italian roll is traditional.

Course: Main Course, Meat, Sandwich
Cuisine: Chicago, Italian
Keyword: Beef, Italian Beef
Servings: 4 People
Author: Daniel Peikes
  • 2 lbs Roast Beef From the Chuck/Shoulder A Scotch or French roast works nicely
  • 1/4 Cup Red Wine Vinegar
  • 1/4 Cup Olive Oil
  • 1/2 Cup Dry Red Wine
  • 4 Cups Beef Stock Homemade would be best but store bought will work in a pinch
  • 6 Cloves Garlic Peeled and Smashed
  • 1 Large Red Onion Sliced thin
  • 1 Large Green Bell Pepper Sliced into 1/2 inch wide strips
  • 1 Large Red Bell Pepper
  • 1 tbsp Red Pepper Flakes Optional
  • Salt and Pepper To taste
Italian Seasoning (Or you con just buy it premixed from your local supermarket)
  • 2 tsp Dried Oregano
  • 2 tsp Dried Thyme
  • 2 tsp Dried Parsley
  • 2 tsp Dried Rosemary
  • 2 tsp Dried Basil
  • 2 tsp Dried Marjoram
Special Equipment
  • Large heavy pot of Dutch oven
  1. Add all the ingredients to the pot. Preheat the oven to 350°F and roast until tender but not mushy.  Remove the meat from the liquid, but save the liquid for later. Allow the meat to cool for 30 minutes and slice thinly.

  2. Put the slices back in the liquid in the pot and put on the stove over medium heat.  Cook until the meat is hot again. Serve on a soft Italian bun dipped back in the cooking liquid.

Recipe: Pickled Red Onion

0 from 0 votes
Mojo Chicken Tacos
Pickled Red Onions
Prep Time
2 mins
Cook Time
3 mins
Total Time
5 mins

This is a quick recipe when you need a topping to add some acidity to a dish. It goes well on tacos, hot dogs, hamburgers, and can even be used in a salad.

Course: Condiment, Side Dish, Topping
Cuisine: American, Mexican
Keyword: Onions, Pickled Onion, Pickles
Author: Daniel Peikes
  • 2 Large Red Onions Sliced Thin
  • 2 Cups Apple Cider Vinegar
  • 1 tbsp Pickling Spice You can get this from the store, or come up with your own blend.
  1. Add all the ingredients to a pot and bring to a boil. Allow to cool and use to top tacos, burgers, or hot dogs.

Recipe: Tomatillo Salso

0 from 0 votes
Italian Beef Tacos
Tomatillo Salsa Verde
Prep Time
5 mins
Cook Time
25 mins
Total Time
30 mins

Tomatillos look like small green tomatoes with a husk on them, but they have a much firmer texture. This salsa depends on them for body and jalapenos for some heat.  If you don't like it spicy you can use bell peppers instead of the jalapenos.

Course: Dip, Sauce, Side
Cuisine: Mexican, South American, Tex-Mex
Keyword: Salsa, Tomatillios
Servings: 1 Quart
Author: Daniel Peikes
  • 6 Large Tomatillos Stems and husk removed
  • 1 Large Onion
  • 2 Jalapenos (Or bell peppers if you don't like it spicy) Stems and seeds removed
  • 6 Cloves Garlic
Special Equipment
  • Blender or Food Processor
  • Parchment paper lined backing sheet
  1. Place all the ingredients on a parchment paper lined sheet pan and roast at 400°F until the vegetables start to brown.

  2. Blend until desired texture is achieved.

If you like this recipe, you should check out our tamale recipes as well: A Tale of Two Tamales: A Lesson in Leftovers and Spicy Salmon Tamales


Passover Seder Roast

Passover RoastLet’s talk about cheap meat and the traditional Passover Seder roast. There is a lot of meat being sold in the kosher market that is grass fed from South America, primarily Uruguay that tends to cost significantly less than domestic beef.  It tends to be very tough and lean. Some people think it has a metallic taste, while others think it tastes more “beefy”.  I personally think that grass fed beef does lack some texture and flavor due to its lack of inter-muscular fat caused by the cows diet and high activity level.

That being said, with all the costs associated with Passover I wanted to figure out a way to make this more affordable meat palatable. By cooking it low and slow with some strong flavors you can get a decent texture and infuse some flavor back in to the meat.  I figured, why not use some of the items already included in the Seder to help further keep costs down? There always seems to be an open bottle of wine and some extra apples from making Charoset,so I figured it would be both economical and tasty to incorporate them.

I include a lot of liquid to create a braise in this recipe, as many Ashkenazic Jews have a custom that we not to eat dry roasted meat at the seder. This recipe works well with any tough cut of meat. I used a french roast, but it would work the same for a top of the rib or a brisket.  You may want to adjust the cooking time down slightly for a top of the rib if it’s on the smaller side or up for a large brisket.

Making chicken instead of or in addition to your roast, check out my super simple Honey Roasted Chicken recipe. It is great for a smaller crowd.


Recipe: Seder Roast

3 from 5 votes
Passover Roast
Passover Seder Roast
Prep Time
10 mins
Cook Time
8 hrs
Resting Time
15 mins
Total Time
8 hrs 10 mins

A classic holiday dish.  This recipe works well with cheaper cuts of beef such as the grass fed meat from South America on the kosher market these day.  It works well with French roast, top of the rib, or brisket, but I wouldn't use this recipe with something like a rib roast. As for the wine, try to use something on the drier side.  I like Rioja for its natural spiciness, but a Cabernet or Merlot should work just fine.

Course: Main Course
Cuisine: Holiday, Jewish, Passover
Keyword: Passover
Servings: 6 Peoples
Author: Daniel Peikes
  • 1 750 ml Bottle Semi Dry Red Wine
  • 1 Large Roast French roast, top of the rib, or brisket
  • 3 Large Onions Chopped
  • 1 Head Garlic Cloves peeled and smashed
  • 3 Large Apples Peeled, cored, and diced
  • 1 tbsp Dried Thyme
  • Salt and Pepper To taste
  • 3 tbsp Olive Oil No need for extra vrgin
  • 1 Large Pot or Dutch Oven A deep stove top safe roasting pan will do in a pinch
  1. Trim any large pieces of fat or silver skin from your roast.  Season liberally with salt and pepper. 

  2. Add the olive oil to the pot and place over high heat. Once the oil is hot add the roast and sear on all sides. Remove the roast, leaving the fat in the pot.

  3. Add the onions and garlic and saute until the onions start to brown. Add the apples and cook until the apples soften.

  4. Add wine and thyme. Roast at 275°F until tender about 4 hours. Allow the roast to rest until cool enough to handle, slice, and serve.  Alternatively, allow the roast to cool completely, and slice and rewarm it in the liquid.

Don’t forget to check out Rachel’s new Passover recipe: Broccoli Cheddar Jalapeño Scones For Passover

Check out all of our Passover recipes here!

Charcuterie Board on a Budget

Charcuterie BoardCharcuterie boards are all the rage today. They can make a beautiful centerpiece on your buffet or a great appetizer.  Charcuterie boards are made with high end meats, cheeses, smoked fish or even vegetables. Usually all the items are served cold. Chanie Apfelbaum the amazing blogger at Busy in Brooklyn makes some beautiful ones. You should definitely check some of them out:



I recently was put in charge of the food for a fundraiser for my synagogue. One of the other committee members had seen some of Chanie’s boards and had asked if I could do something similar for the event.  I had done some small charcuterie boards before at home, but this was first time I had done one this large. Charcuterie boards can be daunting at first, but all you need to remember is they are really just high end deli trays.  In my past life I did plenty of catering and cold cut trays for large crowds are something I have a lot of experience with. With that persepctive, it was simply a matter of taking it up a notch.

That being said, since this was for a fundraiser, I needed to be budget conscious.  If you are not careful you can easily spend hundreds of dollars on a small board. I ended up doing a board with roughly 50 pounds of meat for a little less than $600.  This was plenty for our crowd of 100, along with the hot hors devours, and 2 soups we served. We probably could have fed 150 easily.

I’ll break down the whole process and costs:

The Board

You can buy some magnificent boards made out of all sorts of fancy materials. Being on a budget I decided to make my board myself. I started with a 1’X4′ piece of scrap ply wood that I got for free from Home Depot. Make sure whatever wood you use, is untreated.  You don’t want to use anything treated with chemicals in a food application. I sanded down the sharp edges, charred both the top and bottom surfaces with a torch for some aesthetic interest. I then treated it with mineral oil to provide a protective finish. Total cost about $5 in supplies because the wood was free.


Charcuterie Close UpHere is where things get interesting and potentially very expensive. I spent around $500 on protein for this project. We decided early on that we were going with fleishigs for this event, so high end cured meats were where it was at. When it comes to meat based charcuterie, there are two broad categories, ground or sausage products like salami and whole muscle products like pastrami and jerky.

Whole muscle products tend to be more expensive so I concentrated on ground products like sausages and salamis. It is always fun to give people something they can’t normally get, so I often look outside of Chicago for something special. I ordered about 30 pounds of meat from Wasserman and Lemberger in Baltimore which my brother-in-law was nice enough to fly back for me.

How Many Types of Salami Are There?

You want a good variety of items. I ordered four types of salami: super hot (red pepper flake), black pepper, Italian, and garlic. Alongside the salami I order two other types of sausages: chorizo, a spicy smoked sausage from Spain , and landejager, a German sausage made with red wine and spices. Lastly but certainly not least from Wasserman and Lemberger, I procured four types of their beef jerky: regular, spicy, teriyaki, and barbecue to use as accents on my board.  Jerky is fairly expensive so I didn’t buy a lot. It was received and and the first thing to be gobbled up. The Wasserman and Lemberger items were ordered a few weeks in advance so they some time to dry to point where it developed a nice chew, but didn’t get too hard.

Buying a little early also meant I needed to guess-timate at how much meat I would need. Being in Chicago I have access to some excellent products from Romanian Kosher Sausage Company  that I used to purchase the additional meat I need once I had a better picture of the number of people I was feeding. From there I bought some of their standard dried salami, beef sticks, and some smokey snacks (a sort of salami jerky of sorts)

Other Proteins

You can get really fancy with your protein choices and include things like (beef or lamb) bacon, (beef, veal, or lamb) pancetta, or coppa, but your costs will start to get much higher. Of course you could go with smoked fish such as different types of lox, whitefish, and sable.

If dairy is your thing, the types of cheeses out there are endless. Don’t be afraid to try something a little funky or runny. A baked brie is great, a little blue cheese is nothing to be afraid of, and a fresh mozzarella can be divine. I really love The Cheese Guy products, they have high quality products that are a little more interesting (in a good way) than what you see from most kosher cheese companies. The owner, Brent Delman, is also a super nice guy. Of course if you don’t need your board to be kosher you can do a combination of meats, fish, and cheeses.


While the meat is the star of the show, the sides are supporting actors that help bring the whole thing together. The bread and butter (pun intended) of charcuterie board sides are pickles. I used some dill chips and and some gherkins for what I would call your standard cucumber based pickles, but the possibilities are endless. I also included in this category some spicy giardiniera (a relish made of assorted vegetables) and olives. Again, you can get super fancy with olives if you have the budget, but I just used some fairly standard jarred pimento stuffed green olives that you can find in any major grocery store to keep costs down.

Let’s Add Some Crunch

Nuts are also a great item to add to a charcuterie board. They add some texture to the whole experience. A large container of mixed nuts from Sam’s Club or Costco works well. You can find flavored nuts but I think that can distract from the overall experience.

The final item I would place in this category are crackers.  Crackers are kind of the setting of a story. It’s not there to stand out but it’s needed to give the story structure. I used some basic generic snacker (AKA Ritz) style crackers along with some flavored Triscuits. Obviously there are countless varieties of crackers at all sorts of price points, but if you are trying to stay on a budget this is one place you can go with the cheaper options. Crostinis, thin slices of toasted baguette are often used instead of crackers, but I just didn’t have the time to make them for this event.

Other options that work nicely as sides are dried fruit that go well on a cheese board, or capers that compliment smoked fish.

Overall, I spent about $50 on sides.


If you are going with a meat based board, different types of mustard are your go to condiments.  You can easily find yellow, Dijon, spicy brown, and honey in most major grocery stores.  Skip the fancy brands and even the large national brands and go with the generic or store brands. They will be cheaper and no one will know the difference. Save your money for the proteins.

Ketchup is a classic, although in Chicago it can be considered a crime. BBQ sauces can be fun and come in all varieties. If you like a some heat there are countless hot sauces that you can add to your charcuterie board.  Alternatively, for a cheese board, fruit jams are nice. Finally for fish, tartar sauce works well.

Things I would have done differently

Based on the number of people we had I could have definitely gone with less meat and saved a few bucks. We had plenty of meat left over.  I also should have gone with a larger board. In the future I may cover the whole table in butcher paper instead of using a board.  The board was piled super high with my meat. I had to put my condiments and sides next to it instead of on it.  While I love jerky, it was a bit too expensive for this application. Due to it’s price I didn’t have enough of it for it really make an impression.

If you like this post you might like: Mr. Peikes Goes to Seattle, Washington or the Time I Flew With 100 lbs of Meat