Rosh Hashanah isn't necessarily a time for culinary innovation—your family has probably been eating the same things for years. But food is a huge part of the holiday, so it's worth putting some thought into what you make. That could be as simple as a truly moist and tender braised brisket (yes, it's possible!) or a loaf of eggy homemade challah, but you could also try to mix things up—think smoked brisket rather than braised, Tuscan-Jewish fried chicken, or matzo ball soup with a Mexican twist. However you like to eat on Rosh Hashanah, we've got you covered.
Rosh Hashanah Main Dishes
Crown Roast of Lamb With Couscous Stuffing and Pistachio-Mint Sauce
Lamb is a classic Rosh Hashanah centerpiece, and the most impressive centerpiece is undeniably a crown roast. The roast's shape makes it easy to overcook, though—the best way to get it right is to start it low, then finish it high to brown it, a technique otherwise known as the reverse sear. Serving some sort of stuffing in the roast is a good idea, but be sure to cook it separately so that everything heats up to the proper degree.
Sous Vide Leg of Lamb With Mint, Cumin, and Black Mustard
While we typically cook meat on the bone when possible, a fatty leg of lamb is better deboned, butterflied, and rolled with flavorful ingredients. In this case, we stuff the lamb with black mustard and cumin and top it with a chimichurri made with both of those ingredients, plus mint and cilantro. Cooking the lamb sous vide virtually guarantees that it will come out perfect.
Slow-Roasted Boneless Leg of Lamb With Garlic, Rosemary, and Lemon
A sous vide circulator makes cooking a leg of lamb pretty much foolproof, but you can also get great results with the same reverse-sear technique that we use for a crown roast. As with the previous recipe, here we stuff the lamb before cooking—in this case, with garlic, shallot, anchovies, rosemary, lemon zest, and red pepper flakes.
Grilled Berbere-Spiced Lamb Chops With Cucumber-Lentil Salad
These lamb chops get an East African twist from berbere, an Ethiopian spice blend typically made with ingredients like chili powder, cardamom, and fenugreek. The spice blend gives the chops a bit of a kick; for balance, we pair them with a lentil salad flavored with cooling cucumber and mint.
Jewish-Style Braised Brisket With Onions and Carrots
You've probably eaten brisket at many Rosh Hashanah dinners, and most of those briskets have probably been poorly cooked. The lean cut of meat tends to dry out when cooked until tender. Our solution is to braise it in a roasting pan tightly sealed with aluminum foil, then slice it and return it to the braising liquid to maximize its juiciness.
Braised Brisket in Apricot and Cranberry Sauce
Another trick to brisket is to buy the right cut—the fattier brisket point has more flavor and moisture than the leaner flat. Since Rosh Hashanah is a time to eat sweet foods, the better to ring in a sweet year, we cook the brisket with dried apricots and cranberries, apricot preserves, and cranberry sauce.
Sous Vide Smoked Brisket
If you're comfortable throwing tradition to the wind, consider replacing the braised brisket with a Southern-style one. This recipe lets you re-create a smoked brisket even if it's getting too cold to fire up the smoker—we cook the meat sous vide with pink salt and liquid smoke to simulate the smoking process. You can then finish in a smoker or just use the oven.
Sous Vide Chicken Breast
If you're looking for a more humble main course, chicken is a good way to go. Chicken breast has a bad reputation, but when cooked sous vide, it can become shockingly tender and flavorful. We're fans of the very soft texture you get from cooking chicken at 140 to 145°F (60 to 63°C). That might sound like a dangerously low temperature, but cooking meat slowly at a lower temperature can pasteurize it as effectively as cooking it quickly at a higher one.
Lemon-Marinated Tuscan-Jewish Fried Chicken
I had never thought of fried chicken as a traditional Jewish food, but turns out, it's a significant part of the Tuscan-Jewish culinary canon. The chicken is typically marinated with lemon juice and spices before it's fried in olive oil, though you can use vegetable oil if you want the citrus flavor to be more pronounced.
Curried Chicken With Israeli Couscous
Don't have hours to spend on your Rosh Hashanah spread? This one-pot dinner is worthy of a holiday table, but takes only half an hour to put together. We start by poaching chicken breast with curry powder, then cook couscous in the same pot and wilt in chopped Swiss chard.
Whole Roasted Fish With Oregano, Parsley, and Lemon
Fish heads are a traditional part of the Rosh Hashanah meal, so if you've never tried cooking a whole fish before, this is a good time to start. It's easier than you might think, and the results are superb, since the skin protects the meat and makes it extra tender. The best way to flavor a whole fish is to stuff the body cavity with aromatics—here, we go with fresh herbs, garlic, ginger, and lemon.
Whole Roasted Branzino With Tangerine-Fennel Vinaigrette
We stuff this fish with rosemary, fennel fronds, and tangerine slices before cooking, but also add a citrusy tangerine-fennel vinaigrette for extra flavor. One of the most intimidating parts of cooking whole fish is knowing how to serve it, but check out our carving guide, and you'll be a pro in no time.
Eggplant and Tomato Sauce With Israeli Couscous
Vegetarians shouldn't feel left out of the Rosh Hashanah dinner—this easy recipe will satisfy your guests whether or not they eat meat. Tomatoes and eggplant make a sauce for the Israeli couscous, and a pinch of turmeric gives the dish a bit of Moroccan flavor. If you don't have access to really good, in-season fresh tomatoes, a 28-ounce can of whole peeled tomatoes will work as a replacement.
Rosh Hashanah Side Dishes
The Best Matzo Ball Soup
People have fierce loyalties when it comes to matzo ball recipes, and ours offers different options to cater to every preference. By adjusting the amount of seltzer, baking powder, and/or beaten egg white, you can end up with dense sinkers, pillowy floaters, or anything in between.
Masa Ball Soup
Yes, this recipe was born from a pun, but no, that doesn't mean it's anything less than delicious. To give matzo ball soup a Mexican twist, we make the dumplings with masa harina para tamales and schmaltz or vegetable oil, then float them in chicken broth spiked with jalapeño, lime juice, and cilantro.
Stovetop Tzimmes With Carrots and Raisins
The classic accompaniment to braised brisket, tzimmes too often suffer from mushy texture and oversweetening. This version, made with carrots, onions, and golden raisins, is more balanced. It gets much of its sweetness, plus a citrusy flavor, from fresh orange juice, with just a touch of honey added; spices like cardamom and cinnamon bring the dish more depth.
The Best Challah
It's just not Rosh Hashanah without a loaf of challah. Of course, good challah might be widely available in stores near you, but this recipe is easy enough for beginner-to-intermediate bakers, and richer than anything you'll find at the local bakery. The hardest part is braiding the dough, but the bread will taste so good that no one is going to mind if it looks a little funny.
Roasted Carrots With Harissa and Crème Fraîche
Carrots are a symbolic ingredient for Rosh Hashanah, and we love them in this recipe, where they're roasted with harissa, cumin, and black pepper and served with crème fraîche. You can buy the crème fraîche at the grocery store, but it's also incredibly easy to make at home—just mix two tablespoons of cultured buttermilk with a pint of cream, and let the mixture sit at room temperature for 12 hours.
Roasted Carrots With Black Sesame Dressing
In this recipe, we roast the carrots with nothing more than olive oil, but the dish still gets plenty of flavor from a sauce made with earthy, slightly bitter black sesame paste. To make sure the carrots are soft and caramelized but not too shriveled, we blanch them in salted water before roasting.
Beet and Wheat Berry Salad With Pickled Apples and Pecans
This make-ahead wheat berry salad combines two different symbolic Rosh Hashanah foods: beets and apples. We use every part of the beets, roasting the bulbs and sautéing the greens. The apples are quick-pickled in white wine vinegar to give the hearty salad a little acidity.
Braised Leeks With Lemon and Parsley
Leeks are called karsi in Hebrew, similar to the word that means "to cut." Eating leeks, then, is a symbol of cutting the bad people out of our lives. This is one of our favorite ways to cook them: cut in half, browned on one side, and braised in white wine and chicken broth until tender.
Editor's Note: A previous version of this article indicated that lard should be used to make the masa balls for masa ball soup. We regret the error.
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