The Jewish pot-au-feu of boiled beef and vegetables, a Friday-night alternative to chicken soup and roast chicken, makes a deliciously heartwarming meal. Adding marrow bone gives a wonderful gelatinous quality to the broth. The vegetables are there for the flavor and to make a good broth, which is served first as a soup with lokshen (vermicelli). The meat is served with other vegetables, which are cooked separately, and it is accompanied by pickled gherkins, and chrain.
Yield: Serves 8
1 beef marrow bone (optional)
3 lbs (1½ kg) beef—brisket, breast, or flank
Salt and pepper
1 small celery root, peeled and cut in 4
2 small leeks
2 small onions
2 celery stalks with leaves
3 bay leaves
In a large pot, blanch the marrow bone (if using) in boiling water for a few minutes. Throw out the water. Bring plenty of fresh water to the boil in the pot. Put in the bone and the meat, whole, on top. Bring to the boil again, remove the scum, and add the rest of the ingredients, also whole. Barely simmer for at least 3½ hours, keeping the meat covered with water. Remove as much of the fat as possible from the surface with a spoon, and mop up what is left by trailing a rolled-up paper towel over the surface.
If you like, make a soup with the broth. Strain it into another pot, add vermicelli broken into bits with your hand, and simmer till they are done. Serve as a first course.
Serve the meat with extra vegetables cooked separately in boiling salted water. Use potatoes and any (or a combination) of the following: carrots, parsnips, turnips, leeks, cabbage, and celery hearts.
Accompany with a sauce made by mixing about 6 tablespoons of grated horseradish (you can buy it in bottles now in supermarkets) with 1½ tablespoons of vinegar, 1–2 teaspoons of sugar, salt and pepper, and a little of the broth.