Evie’s Tzimmes with a Twist
My mother, Evelyn (Grandma Evie or Grandma E to her grandchildren), made a great tzimmes. As a child, I loved it, but as I got older and tasted it with a different palate and the opinions of my husband and kids, I revisited her recipe to make it more Bazil-family friendly and found that I liked it even more. I made it a little less sweet and added a little more spice. All the best of the original with a new twist! My mother never added prunes, and I don’t either, though if you are of the prune-in-tzimmes-is-a-must camp, please feel free to add some with the sweet potatoes.
Note: Silan (date syrup) with no added sugar is now easier to find in kosher and Middle Eastern markets and online.
- Spice Mix*
- 1 teaspoon cinnamon
- 1 teaspoon ground cumin
- 1 teaspoon ground coriander
- 1 teaspoon ground turmeric
- 1 teaspoon sweet paprika
- 1 teaspoon ras el hanout (optional)
- 1 teaspoon salt
- ¼ teaspoon ground black pepper
- 3 pounds flanken (also called top rib at kosher butcher shops—it is basically short rib, but cut across the bones)
- Spice mix (above)
- Olive or neutral vegetable oil
- 4 medium beef or marrow bones
- Zest and juice of 1 orange
- 12 medium carrots, washed and cut into about 1-inch chunks (peeled if you prefer or if they are very old and root-y)
- 6 medium sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into about 2-inch chunks
- About 8 cups boiling water
- 1/3 cup silan (date syrup) with no added sugar, more to taste
- Salt and pepper to taste
- Spice mix: In a small bowl, use a small whisk or spoon to gently mix all the ingredients for the spice mix together until well blended.
- Tzimmes: Cut flanken between each bone so that each piece is about 1 to 2 inches across, and each piece has both a bone and some meat.
- In a large bowl, mix the flanken pieces with the spice mix until all pieces of meat are well coated.
- Heat a large, heavy bottomed soup pot over medium heat. Once the pan has heated up, add about 1 tablespoon of oil to lightly coat the bottom of the pot and brown the spice coated flanken pieces on all sides. Do not crowd the pot, even if it means doing the browning in several batches (you might need another tablespoon of oil after the second batch). After each batch is finished, remove the pieces to a bowl and set aside while the others brown.
- Once all the flanken is browned, put it all back in the pot and add in the beef bones. Pour in the boiling water, which should just about cover all the meat and bones. Bring this up to a boil and then reduce to a simmer over medium to medium-low heat, and let this cook for about 45 minutes. You might see foam rise to the top, which you can skim off and discard.
- After the 45 minutes add in the orange zest and juice, the carrot chunks and 1/3 cup of date syrup. Let this come back to a boil and reduce to a simmer over medium or medium-low heat for about 1 hour. If the liquid seems too far below the level of the meat and carrots, add in a little more water. Mix occasionally to make sure nothing is sticking to the bottom of the pot.
- At the end of that hour, add in the sweet potato chunks and let cook for another hour, mixing occasionally.
- Taste the sauce, and if you prefer it to be sweeter, add another 1 to 2 tablespoons date syrup. Add more salt and pepper at this time as well, to taste.
- Let cool and chill in another pot or container overnight in the refrigerator. Skim fat and reheat within two days. (This dish is best made a day ahead and chilled in the refrigerator overnight so that you can skim off the fat before reheating. Reheating also improves the flavor, although the sweet potatoes do break down more, which is part of the beauty of it.)
- * If you have a baharat or ras el hanout spice blend you like, that can work here in lieu of the individual spices—you would need to use about 2 tablespoons and add 1 teaspoon salt if the mix doesn’t include any.