Made a latke hotdish because I couldn’t not, right?? And also because hotdish Hanukkah is the theme of this year’s holiday party. I probably won’t do this ever again unless you pay me a million dollars but that’s just meant to say more about my current overwhelming desire to be lazy, nothing about whether or not this is good or not.
This is in fact very good!!! It’s meat and potatoes at its best: hella braised brisket and fried potatoes. There is nothing not to like.
Why is this hotdish different from all other hotdishes?
1. Obvious: it’s topped with latkes!! Tater tots are basically little latkes already so this route essentially just makes our favorite hotdish topping even better. It takes a lot more effort. But as someone who is royally dreading having to shred potatoes again this weekend, I can tell you that you definitely should at least try a brisket juice covered latke once in your lifetime. And I mean, if you’re going to be making latkes anyway, it really would behoove you to make a few extra, throw them on this hotdish, and then freeze it and reheat it for the last night of Hanukkah when you are totally done with flipping latkes.
2. It is dairy free!! While the traditional hotdish contains meat and creamed soup, it has also been important to me to find good dairy free/kosher options. In Molly on the Range, one recipe goes the coconut milk route, and I’ve made my classic hotdish a few times using olive oil in place of butter and stock in place of milk. But my new favorite option, I just realized, has been staring me right in the eye since Eggboy and I first started dating! The first recipe that Eggmom ever sent me (before we had ever even met I think) was her tomato soup that is thickened with squash puree. It is delicious and has proved to be one of the most popular recipes in MOTR. So thickening this tomato-based hotdish mixture with butternut squash puree is exactly what I’ve done here and the squash adds the most delicious warming undertones that make me forgive it for being such an easy vegetable to get sick of.
3. It’s got an apples! Which is a nod to latkes + apple sauce, h/t to Kristin for this connection.
4. And rosemary and red wine and all sorts of things that will make your house smell so good that your guests will have no choice but to melt right down into the holiday spirit. I suck at decorating for the holidays but what I lack in greenery and tiny light up houses, I make up for in house smells. And that’s just as important, right??
Q: Omg you want me to braise a brisket, roast a squash, puree it, shred potatoes, and fry latkes all at once? Is this The Onion??
A: You can totally make the braised brisket mixture (including the part where you stir in the squash) a day in advance. It’ll probably even taste better that way. The latkes can also be prepped ahead. Assembly can also be done ahead. That’s one of the most beautiful things about a hotdish, it can all be prepped in advance and the only thing that really changes is how much time it spends baking. If you’re baking from the refrigerator, it’ll probably just need a few more minutes. If baking from frozen, cover with foil and bake at 350º for an hour, and then uncover and then increase the heat to 400º and bake for another 20-30 minutes, until the innards are heated through.
2 1/2 tb canola or vegetable oil, divided
2 lbs brisket, cut into 2” pieces
1 large onion, sliced
2 carrots, chopped into 1/2” coins
2 celery stalks, chopped into 1/2” pieces
1/2 c red wine
1 tb brown sugar
2 tb tomato paste
1 (14-oz) can chopped tomatoes
2 c beef or vegetable stock
Leaves from 2 sprigs fresh rosemary, chopped
2 apples, cored and sliced
1 small (2-2 1/2 lbs) butternut squash, halved and deseeded
A good pinch of crushed red pepper
1 batch latkes, recipe follows
Chopped fresh parsley, to serve, optional (if you’re feeling fancy)
Heat 2 tablespoons canola oil in a large pot over medium high heat. Add the brisket, season with 1 1/2 teaspoons salt and a few turns of black pepper and cook until browned on all sides, about 10 minutes. Reduce the heat to medium and add the onion, carrots, and celery and cook, stirring, until softened, about 10 minutes. Add the red wine and cook for a few minutes until it’s reduced by half. Add the brown sugar, tomato paste, canned tomatoes, stock, rosemary, and apples and simmer uncovered for 2 1/2-3 hours, stirring occasionally, until meat is tender. You want this to reduce and get quite thick and saucy, however if it reduces too far to where it’s more gloopy than saucy, add a bit more stock.
Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 375ºf, brush the innards of your squash with the remaining 1/2 tablespoon of oil, sprinkle with 1/4 tsp salt and a few turns of pepper and roast until a fork pokes easily into the center, begin checking at 1 hour. Puree the squash and then stir it into your hot dish mixture with crushed red pepper. Taste and adjust seasoning
Increase the oven heat to 400ºf.
Transfer the mixture to an 8” by 12” casserole dish and top with latkes lined up in nice neat rows. Bake until the mixture is bubbly and the latkes are deep brown, about 45 minutes. Let cool slightly and then top with chopped parsley, if using, and serve.
Makes enough mini latkes for this hotdish, plus a few more to nosh on as you’re cooking
1 1/2 lbs russet potatoes
1 large yellow onions
3/4 tsp kosher salt
2 large eggs
1 tb lemon juice
1/3 c (43g) all-purpose flour
Canola or vegetable oil, for frying
Shred the potatoes and onions in a food processor or with a grater or mandoline. Place in a strainer that’s been lined with cheesecloth. Toss with salt and let sit over a bowl for 30 minutes. Gather the top of the cheesecloth and then use your hands to squeeze out as much excess moisture as you can. Transfer to a bowl and mix in the eggs, lemon juice flour, and a few turns of black pepper. Heat a skillet with a 1/4” oil until shimmering. Working in batches as not to crowd the pan, fry up loosely packed rounded tablespoons of the latke mixture until browned on both sides. Add more oil to the pan as needed. Transfer to a paper towel lined plate and set aside until ready to use.