Hanukkah, or Chanukah, celebrates the victory of the Maccabees over the Seleucid Empire, one of Alexander the Great’s successor states. After retaking Jerusalem, the Maccabees rededicated the Second Temple to G-d. They had only enough holy oil to burn for one night, yet the lamp miraculously burned for eight nights. To remember the use of the oil, many traditional Hanukkah foods are fried.
Also, to remember the Jewish heroine Judith or Yehudit in Hebrew, who overfed an enemy general on salty cheese and got him drunk and then cut his head off, saving her town from the enemy, many dairy dishes are served as well.
Meat dishes: Brisket or chicken dishes are traditionally served at the Hanukkah.
There are literally hundreds of ways to prepare brisket. Most of which are some variation of this basic recipe:
• 3 to 5 pound beef brisket, trimmed.
• 2 tablespoons of paprika or 1 tablespoon chili powder or crushed red pepper
• 1 teaspoon sweet basil or 1 teaspoon thyme
• 2 teaspoons of kosher salt
• 2 teaspoons fresh ground black pepper
• 2 medium onions, chopped
• 3 cloves garlic, crushed
• ½ cup of Worchester Sauce
• 6 oz can of tomato paste or ½ cup ketchup or ½ cup barbeque sauce
• 2 cups red wine or 2 cups red wine vinegar
• 16 oz can beef broth
1.Preheat oven to 325° F.
2. Rinse brisket in cold water and pat dry.
3. Mix paprika, basil, and garlic, salt and pepper together and rub onto meat.
4. Put meat in roasting pan.
5. Mix onion pieces, tomato paste, Worchester sauce, wine and beef broth together and pour over brisket.
6. Cover pan and Bake at 325° Fahrenheit for 4 hours, or until center of the brisket is 190°, read with a meat thermometer for well done.
Chicken is also a popular meat for Hanukkah. The chicken is usually roasted but sometimes fried chicken is served instead.
Latkes are also a staple of the Hanukkah meal. Each family seems to have their own special recipe for these potato dishes. But the basic latke recipe is as follows:
• 2 pounds potatoes, peeled
• A large white onion, peeled
• 2 large eggs
• 2 tablespoons flour
• 1 teaspoon kosher salt
• ¼ teaspoon black pepper
• ¼ cup chopped parsley
• 3 tablespoons vegetable oil
1. Shred potatoes and onion using the large side of box shredder.
2. Combine together the shredded potato and onion in a colander over a bowl.
3. Let mixture stand 15 minutes, pressing occasionally until most of liquid is gone.
4. Remove colander from bowl.
5. Pour off the potato liquid, but reserve the thick white layer of potato starch in the bottom of the bowl.
6. Beat eggs and then combine eggs, with flour, salt, and pepper in a small bowl, stirring thoroughly.
7. Add egg mixture to potato starch in large bowl and also stir well to combine.
8. Add potato onion mix to the liquid then also add parsley and combine well.
9. Heat a 12-inch nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add 1 ½ tablespoons oil to pan, swirling to coat.
10. Add potato mixture in ¼-cup servings to pan to make about 6 latkes, flatten a little and cook about 5 minutes on each side or until golden brown. Repeat procedure with remaining oil and remaining potato mixture.
Also traditional at Hanukkah are Sufganiot, a deep-fried, jelly-filled donuts and apple sauce.