Alon Shaya, chef and co-owner of three New Orleans restaurants, has just placed a colorful spread of dishes on the table. There are baby heirloom carrots gleaming with olive oil, deep red harissa pepper paste, boneless short ribs rubbed with cardamom, allspice, cinnamon and fennel seed, and yellow saffron rice to soothe the palate. That’s enough commanding flavor to make any foodie go weak in the knees. And it’s all kosher.
Shaya, 37, was born in Israel but grew up in Philadelphia. His passion for food developed under the tutelage of a high-school home economics teacher—they remain close to this day—and bloomed during a year spent in Italy studying cooking. He returned to the United States and partnered with Nola culinary star John Besh to open Domenica, a Wine Spectator Award of Excellence–winning Italian restaurant housed in the city’s historic Roosevelt Hotel.
It was only in February 2015 that Shaya turned back to his roots with the opening of his namesake restaurant, Shaya. Now, with the celebrations of Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur fast approaching, Shaya has created this entirely kosher meal for the holiday table. “When I cook at home, especially for the holidays, I really try to keep things traditional and simple,” he says. Every detail in the preparation of the food has meaning. With this short ribs recipe, for example, Shaya explains that the multiple spices in the dish are a symbol for a fruitful and plentiful year to come.
In selecting the short ribs and Moroccan carrot salad for the menu, Shaya stresses that these dishes are easy to make at home in a regular oven. “Braised short rib with vegetables and rice, you don't get any more comforting than that,” he says.
The carrots in the salad, soft from the oven, are dressed with a vinaigrette that incorporates cumin, caraway, orange zest and dried amba, a mango-based powder that’s more commonly seen as a condiment for Israeli street food (most easily purchased online). The dish heats up with the harissa, a smoky paste that Shaya describes as “Morocco’s answer to Sriracha.” Mint is thrown in at the end to add balance. “The spice and the cooling mint; the crunch of the carrot; the earthiness of the carrot; all of that in there is what I love,” says Shaya.
The boneless short ribs have a beautiful balance of fat and meat, and in this main dish Shaya stresses pairing “warm” spices (cinnamon and allspice) with spices that add “depth” (fennel seed and cardamom). The short ribs are left on heat, with any vegetables you choose to add (Shaya prefers root vegetables in the winter), for up to three hours. As the vegetables absorb the juices and the spices work into the meat, he says, “All of that is really going to take that dish and carry it to a higher level than just another pot roast.”
And to drink? Shaya has a vision for his namesake restaurant: “We want to feature wines from all over the world, but also from countries that have had people immigrate to Israel.” This includes wines from Lebanon, Croatia, Greece and Turkey. Several selections are kosher. To pair with this meal, wine director Matthew Portnoy suggests red wines that show juicy ripe fruit and light herbal notes, such as the smoky, spicy Domaine des Ouleb Thaleb Syrah Zenata Syrocco 2012 or the inky black, full-bodied Ramot Naftaly Petit Verdot 2012. “Wines made from 100 percent Petit Verdot do wonderfully in Israel, and this is a gorgeous kosher example,” says Portnoy.
Below, Wine Spectator recommends 12 red wines from Israel—all kosher—that have scored 88 points or higher.
Recipe courtesy of chef Alon Shaya, Shaya, New Orleans, La.
For the Moroccan carrot salad:
To make the Moroccan carrot salad:
1. Preheat an oven to 325° F. Wash the baby carrots and trim off the tops, leaving a 1⁄4 inch of stalk. Toss carrots with canola oil and place on a baking sheet.
2. In a large mixing bowl, combine with a whisk the apple cider vinegar, salt, sugar, orange zest, cumin, caraway and amba powder. Slowly pour the olive oil into the bowl while whisking to make a vinaigrette.
3. Roast the carrots for 10 to 15 minutes just until they soften but are not cooked all the way. Remove the carrots from the oven and toss them in the vinaigrette, adding the sliced onions, while still warm. Garnish with small mint leaves. Garnish with harissa if desired. Serves 4 to 6.
For the short ribs:
To make the short ribs:
1. Preheat the oven to 350° F. Season the short ribs evenly with the salt. Heat 1/4 cup canola oil over medium-high heat in a large Dutch oven. When the oil is hot, add the short ribs and brown on all sides, 8 to 10 minutes. Transfer to a 9-by-13-inch baking dish. Reserve the rendered fat.
2. Wipe the Dutch oven clean and return to medium-high heat. Add the rendered fat. Add all the vegetables to the Dutch oven with garlic cloves and cook, stirring occasionally, until browned, 10 to 12 minutes. Add the spices and cook until fragrant, 1 minute more. Place the vegetables into the baking dish with the short ribs, add the water, cover with aluminum foil and place in the oven. Bake until the short ribs are tender, 2 1/2 to 3 hours. Serves 6 to 8.
1. Bring 2 quarts of water to a boil. After removing the stems, place the dried chiles in a large bowl. Pour boiling water over chiles and let sit until they are fully rehydrated, approximately 1 hour.
2. Once peppers are rehydrated, drain and remove skins and seeds. Toast coriander and cumin seeds in a sauté pan on high for 2 minutes until they start to become fragrant.
3. Finely crush your dry ingredients with a mortar and pestle, then add the garlic cloves and vinegar. Once a paste is created, add the peppers to the mortar and use the pestle to incorporate them into the spice mixture.
4. Fold pepper mixture into tomato paste with lemon juice and olive oil. Add to the Moroccan carrot salad as desired. Yields 1/2 cup.
Note: The following lists are selections of outstanding and very good wines from recently rated releases. More kosher wines—including whites and rosés—rated in the past year can be found here in our Wine Ratings Search.
GALIL MOUNTAIN Yiron Galilee 2012
A big, rich and well-spiced red, delivering concentrated flavors of dark cherry, smoke, plum and dark currant. Very toasty in the midpalate, this boasts a finish that lingers with dark chocolate and tobacco leaf notes. Drink now through 2020. 5,000 cases made. 800 cases imported.
TZORA Judean Hills 2014
A fresh and juicy red, showing good concentration to the dark plum, currant and black olive flavors, supported by medium-grained tannins. Forest floor and minerally notes are joined by white pepper accents on the finish. Drink now through 2020. 4,000 cases made.
OR HAGANUZ Cabernet Sauvignon Galilee Marom 2013
A ripe, rich style, with meaty notes to the dark plum and dried cherry flavors, accented by hints of forest floor. Tea and spice details show on the spicy finish, with fine tannins. Kosher. Drink now through 2020. 1,700 cases made. 375 cases imported.
TEPERBERG Cabernet Sauvignon Samson Impression 2014
Juicy and well-spiced, with concentrated red plum, raspberry and boysenberry flavors. Cardamom and milk chocolate notes fill the supple finish. Drink now through 2019. 6,050 cases made. 935 cases imported.
TULIP Cabernet Sauvignon Galilee Just 2014
A big, rich and dense red, with plenty of mocha notes to the roasted plum and dark cherry flavors. Dark chocolate details show midpalate, leading to a finish supported by medium-grained tannins. Drink now through 2019. 2,780 cases made. 540 cases imported.
TULIP Merlot Judean Hills Just 2013
A minerally red, with good cut to the dried berry and roasted plum flavors, featuring supple spicy notes. The creamy finish is long and rich, showing sandalwood accents. Drink now through 2018. 1,245 cases made. 280 cases imported.
CARMEL Cabernet Sauvignon Galilee Appellation 2014
A fresh red, with vibrant acidity behind the cherry, currant and cranberry flavors. Firm tannins show midpalate, revealing dark chocolate and mocha notes on the finish. Drink now through 2019. 1,200 cases imported.
GALIL MOUNTAIN Alon Upper Galilee 2012
A smooth, layered red, this has a nice, solid acidity that holds together the currant, mocha, forest floor and sweet spice flavors. With ample tannins, this boasts mineral accents on the balsamic finish. Drink now through 2018. 3,000 cases made. 700 cases imported.
KISHOR VINEYARDS Syrah Galilee Kerem Kishor 2013
There are plenty of beefy notes in this sinewy red, which features flavors of roasted plum, hoisin sauce and cedar. Grippy tannins, with notes of pepper on the chewy finish. Drink now through 2018. 500 cases made. 60 cases imported.
PSAGOT Cabernet Franc Jerusalem Mountains M Series 2013
Lots of freshness to the engaging mix of red plum and finely tuned herbal accents. Tobacco leaf notes on the dense and spicy finish. Drink now through 2018. 350 cases made. 70 cases imported.
SHILOH Cabernet Sauvignon Judean Hills Shor 2013
A medium- to full-bodied red that offers plenty of hot stone notes to the dried cherry and plum tart flavors. Features cedary details midpalate, with leafy accents on the finish. Drink now through 2018. 1,250 cases made. 225 cases imported.
TEPERBERG Merlot Samson Impression 2014
This has good concentration and density to the red plum, dried berry and forest floor flavors. Offers a supple and spicy finish, with chocolate notes. Drink now through 2018. 3,000 cases made. 460 cases imported.
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