Inadvertently Multi -Culti Tzimmes
One of the High Holiday culinary standards in this household is tzimmis. I know that lots of perfectly lovely Jewish households will call sliced carrots cooked with a bit of honey and perhaps a bit of ginger tzimmis. Other homes will call a mix of carrots, sweet potatoes and white potatoes tzimmis.
In the culinary tradition my parents cobbled together for us tzimmis a a long cooked stew made with carrots, sweet potatoes, white potatoes, parsnip, lima beans, prunes and big cubes of beef. yes there are lots of spices in there and it is sweet with brown sugar and sour (in my mother's house with lemon juice, and in mine with sour salt).
My daughter's intended has many fine qualities. He is however, allergic to white potatoes. My daughter reminded me after Shabbat dinner that I needed to take that into account in this year's tzimmis making.
I decided to take on the potato replacement challenge. I thought that I would use a large amount of parsnips to replace the potatoes.The local nice vegetable stand had tiny measly looking parsnips, this would not do.
So I went to the Associated Supermarket around the corner from my apartment. For those of you not from New York, our supermarkets are far smaller than suburban supermarkets. But I am not talking about a normal-sized Manhattan supermarket. You need to scale down the vision of supermarket in your head.
The Associated around the corner from my apartment used to be an upscale market. It was then taken over by a more down scale chain. They added an aside or two or three to the previous layout. What this means is that the aisles are not wide enough for two shoppers to pass one another. Shopping each aisle requires you to negotiate with each other shopper in the store. Shopping there is always a stressful experience.
The Associated carries a wide variety of root vegetables to cater to it's many Hispanic customers. the root vegetables live not in the main part of the supermarket but in a narrow passageway across from the crammed spice display and serves as a corridor between the cold room where butchers cut up meat and the meat displays just around the corner. it is an especially crowded corner in an outrageously crowded store.
I looked at the various unfamiliar tubers while women with walkers and strollers and shopping carts pushed their way past me. One of the butchers was walking back into the cold room after re filling part of the meat display. I asked her for help.
I explained that I needed something to replace the white potatoes in my tzimmis. She was really helpful.
She suggested batata. I can now tell you that it tastes like a cross of white potato and chestnut.
I also included one huge yuca.
We tend not to eat a whole lot of beans. Just before Pesach I combined all of the random dry beans in the pantry into one jar. there were some lima beans and some Japanese adzuki beans as well as some chickpeas and red beans in the jar. I added them all to the tzimmis.
I put the tzimmis up to cook last night and let it simmer all night in my oven. this morning I had a pot of this.
This is my mother's recipe but please take all quantities as simply a suggestion. I used about 7lbs. of meat and only two carrots, but they were large enough to use as a defensive weapon.
soak 1/2 cup lima beans overnight - or heat in microwave for 10 minutes and then allow to sit for 30 minutes
brown at least 3 lbs stew beef in a heavy pot
add two diced onions and continue browning- when brown, lower heat to medium
pre heat oven to 325
3-5 white potatoes
3-5 sweet potatoes
3-4 huge carrots or a bag of normal sized ones
add to meat
1/3 c brown sugar
juice of 1 lemon
a glug of white vinegar
put tzimmis in oven, covered. Stir every 20 minutes or so. When the smell of the Tzimmis stops smelling like separate ingredients but like the flavors have melded, uncover. This will concentrate the juices. Stir the meat every 20 minutes or so so it all gets a nice chewy crust.
This is the wall of tzimmis currently in my freezer. It is six gallons of High Holiday goodness.
I was out in the neighborhood on 9/11. This firehouse is not in my immediate neighborhood.
And included just because it looks cool is the former home of what had been the best Chinese restaurant in the neighborhood when I moved here. In the last few years there have been several failed attempts at various Asian cuisine restaurants.
The latest attempt has failed as well.