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French-Jewish Fusion for the Passover Table

A new kosher cookbook offers a fresh take on beef stew; plus, 14 recently rated kosher wines
Photo by: Ed Anderson
Cooking the pot au feu with bone-in flanken adds depth to the flavors of the dish.

Esther Mobley
Posted: March 25, 2015

During Passover's inaugural meal, the Seder, participants recount the story of the Jewish exodus from Egypt—a ritual involving song, storytelling, wine-drinking, matzo-breaking, bitter herb–tasting and much more. Dinner is served near the end of the Seder. For the Passover cook, this generally rules out any recipes whose instructions conclude with “Serve immediately.”

Jeff and Jodie Morgan, owners of Berkeley, Calif.-based winery Covenant, whose 100-percent kosher lineup includes Napa Valley Cabernet and Sonoma Chardonnay, have shared the recipe for their Flanken Pot au Feu for Passover. Taken from their new cookbook, The Covenant Kitchen: Food and Wine for the New Jewish Table (Schocken, 2015), the dish represents a marriage of the classic French beef stew and the traditional Jewish interpretation of short ribs. “For Passover, it’s perfect, because you can cook it in advance and just keep it warm,” Jeff says. “It won’t interrupt the flow of the Passover meal.”

Plus, Jodie adds, Passover falls on the Sabbath this year (Friday, April 3), so more strictly observant Jews (who refrain from using electricity from sundown Friday to sundown Saturday) won’t be able to engage in certain types of cooking techniques during the Seder. “Depending on your religious practice, you could reheat the pot au feu just before serving,” she says, “or, if you’re not allowed to light a flame, you can keep it warm on something that you can maintain on low heat until you’re ready to eat.”

The Morgans’ recipe calls for slow-braising the meat with a bouquet garni, or an herb bundle. “There are a lot of delicate flavors in the pot au feu,” says Jeff. “You’ve got this exquisite broth, and then you’ve got this very soft meat that’s been braising for a long time.” Although the French pot au feu is typically made with a cut of meat more akin to a brisket, the Morgans like the flanken here not only because it is a tried-and-true Passover staple, but also because the bones add complexity to the broth.

Wine pairings, naturally, figure prominently in the cookbook. “We believe that a complementary wine pairing [one similar in weight and character] is probably the best way to go most of the time,” Jeff explains. The obvious choice for the flanken, he says, is a full-bodied, rich Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot or Syrah. But he thinks that a medium-bodied Pinot Noir could work, too. Look for something with enough weight to stand up to the red meat and a little bit of fruitiness to echo the sweet flavors of the onions and carrots. We provide tasting notes and scores for 14 recently rated kosher wines below.

Flanken Pot au Feu

Excerpted from The Covenant Kitchen by Jeff and Jodie Morgan. Copyright (c) 2015 by Jeff Morgan and Jodie Morgan. Excerpted by permission of Schocken, a division of Random House LLC. All rights reserved.

  • 4 pounds flanken
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 teaspoon dried thyme
  • 1 teaspoon dried rosemary
  • 8 whole cloves
  • 1/2 teaspoon black peppercorns
  • 8 cups water
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • Freshly ground pepper, to taste
  • 1 onion, cut into eighths
  • 4 large red potatoes, quartered
  • 4 large carrots, cut into 1-inch lengths
  • 2 leeks (white parts only), well washed and cut into 1/4-inch rounds
  • 2 turnips, peeled and cut into eighths
  • 1/4 cup minced fresh parsley

1. Rinse and pat the flanken dry. Set aside.

2. Make a bouquet garni by combining the bay leaf, thyme, rosemary, cloves and peppercorns in a 4-inch square of cheesecloth. Tie it closed with a piece of kitchen twine. Trim the ends of the string and any excess cheesecloth. Set aside.

3. Place the flanken in a Dutch oven or other large ovenproof pot. Add the water and the bouquet garni. Bring the water to a boil over high heat, cover, reduce the heat to medium-low and bring to a simmer. Wait a few minutes, then, using a large spoon, skim the surface of the water to remove any foam that may develop. (You may need to do this a few times.) Cover and let simmer for 3 hours.

4. Remove the pot from the heat and discard the bouquet garni. Use a ladle to scoop up enough broth to fill a fat separator. Then remove and discard the fat from the broth. (If you don’t have one of these simple, handy devices, use a spoon or meat baster to skim whatever fat you can off the top of the broth.) The meat should be very tender, and it may have broken into large pieces. This is OK.

5. Return the pot to the stove over high heat and add the salt and pepper to taste. Add the onion, potatoes, carrots, leeks and turnips. Bring to a boil and reduce the heat to medium. Cover and cook for 1 hour.

6. To serve, place a piece of the flanken and a portion of the vegetables in a wide shallow bowl for each diner. Ladle a generous serving of broth over the meat. Garnish with the parsley and additional pepper to taste. Serves 6.

14 RECOMMENDED KOSHER WINES

The following are a selection of recently rated outstanding, very good and good red, rosé and white wines from Israel, Italy and Spain. WineSpectator.com members can view additional kosher wines in our Wine Ratings Search.

RECANATI Cabernet Sauvignon Galilee 2012 Score: 90 | $17
A rich red, showing good power to the mineral-infused dried blackberry, dark plum and currant flavors. Engaging dried herbal notes emerge on the focused finish. Kosher. Drink now through 2017. 14,000 cases made.—K.M.

RECANATI Chardonnay Galillee 2012 Score: 88 | $17
A spicy aroma leads to ripe apple and baked pear flavors that are balanced and fresh. Light buttery notes fill the crisp finish. Kosher. Drink now. 4,750 cases made.—K.M.

DALTÔN Merlot-Cabernet Sauvignon Galilee Alma 2011 Score: 87 | $24
A brambly red, with dried berry, dark plum and pomegranate flavors. Savory herb notes show on the crisp finish. Kosher. Drink now. 3,000 cases made.—K.M.

LEWIS PASCO Cabernet Sauvignon-Merlot-Petite Sirah Shomron The Pasco Project #1 2012 Score: 87 | $26
Shows good cut to the red plum, raspberry and green olive flavors, supported by fresh acidity. Spicy finish. Kosher. Drink now. 665 cases made.—K.M.

RECANATI Sauvignon Blanc Shomron 2012 Score: 87 | $15
The peach and ripe apple flavors are light and lively in this fruity white. Hints of almond and cream appear midpalate. Clean and spicy on the finish. Kosher. Drink now. 1,800 cases made.—K.M.

DALTÔN Galilee Rosé 2013 Score: 86 | $17
The fresh red berry and melon flavors are spicy, with a mouthfilling texture and a medium-bodied finish. Kosher. Drink now. 1,000 cases made.—K.M.

KARMEI YOSEF Chardonnay Samson Bravdo 2012 Score: 86 | $32
Well-rounded, with light spice notes to the baked apple and apricot flavors. Tropical hints linger on the slightly buttery finish. Kosher. Drink now. 1,000 cases made.—K.M.

RECANATI Cabernet Franc Galilee Single Vineyard Reserve 2010 Score: 85 | $27
Offers green bean aromas, with assertive flavors to match. Well-structured, showing a underlying mix of plum and dark cherry fruit. For fans of the style. Kosher. Drink now. 500 cases made.—K.M.

RECANATI Rosé Galilee 2013 Score: 85 | $15
Offers a peppery nose, with fruit-filled flavors of melon and red berry, with some savory herbal notes. Fresh finish. Barbera and Merlot. Kosher. Drink now. 2,400 cases made.—K.M.

TEPERBERG Meritage Shomron 2011 Score: 85 | $18
Medium-bodied, with red plum and raspberry flavors that are lightly spiced. Slate notes emerge on the crisp finish. Kosher. Drink now. 10,000 cases made.—K.M.

BORGO REALE Umbria 2013 Score: 84 | $18
A light-bodied and tangy red, with plum, wild strawberry, herb and smoke notes. Sangiovese, Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon. Kosher. Drink now. 1,000 cases made.—A.N.

BODEGAS RAMÓN BILBAO Garnacha Rioja Ramon Cardova 2011 Score: 83 | $16
Floral, cherry and herbal flavors mingle in this supple red. Light but firm tannins give way to a slightly earthy, stemmy finish. Rustic style. Kosher. Drink now through 2016. 1,000 cases made.—T.M.

FREIXENET Brut Cava Excelencia NV Score: 83 | $18
Creamy in texture, this balanced sparkler offers flavors of grilled peach and almond, ground ginger and smoke. Kosher. Drink now. 5,000 cases made.—A.N.

DALTÔN Petite Sirah Samson Oak Aged 2011 Score: 82 | $26
Dark-colored, with an initial burst of luscious dark fruit flavors that turns stemmy. Finishes a touch astringent. Kosher. 2,000 cases made.—K.M.

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