Brisket Sancocho (Sancocho de Brisket)

Stew kosher tomato Mobile
From Sandy Leibowitz, The Kosher Tomato

This is definitely not a typical dish, but I wanted to draw inspiration from my Latin American background and combine it with my Jewish culture. Brisket is a traditional meat served on Passover, but I guarantee you have never tried it like this! My mother’s side of the family is from Colombia, and sancocho is a traditional thick soup that is eaten in Colombia but also Puerto Rico, Ecuador, Dominican Republic, and other Latin American cuisines. Each country has their own variation, but from what I have researched, all flavors are similar. This one happens to be kosher! Sancocho is a soup, but also considered a stew. Its thickness is due to the use of different roots and tubers such as potatoes, yucca, and green plantain. The word “sancocho” comes from the verb “sancochar”, which means to parboil in Spanish. Typically, meat with the bone in tact, such as a short rib is used for sancocho, since bones give off an exponential amount of flavor. However, with Passover coming up, I wanted to try a brisket. Instead of the usual “first cut” we see, I used a “deckel” cut (also known as “2nd cut”) which is better in so many ways! Although “2nd cut” may imply that it is second best, I assure you – it’s far superior! Deckel is a fattier piece of the brisket. Fat equals flavor, which makes it much tastier than its counterpart. A great explanation here: Griller’s pride.I certainly love a traditional brisket for Passover, but if you’re looking for a change and something packed with flavor, I urge you to try this stick-to-your-ribs, one pot meal! Drawing inspiration from my Colombian background and combining it with my Jewish Culture. Please note, I personally use corn and rice during Passover - but feel free to omit these (or other) ingredients if it is your tradition is not to use them during Passover.  


2 pounds, deckel brisket, cut in approximately 1 inch cubes
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon cumin powder
1 teaspoon paprika
All purpose flour - (just enough to dust the brisket cubes) *OMIT DURING PASSOVER*
Oil for browning meat
SOFRITO: ½ large onion, 1 small green pepper, 1 large red pepper, 8 cloves fresh garlic, pinch of salt (pulsed in food processor)
Pinch of saffron
2 small, green plantains, cut in 3 inch pieces
⅓ of a large yucca, cut in 3 inch pieces (frozen is fine too)
1 large russet potato, cut in large pieces
1 corn on the cob, sliced in thinner rounds (frozen is fine too)
1 small red pepper, medium diced (mainly for color)
8 cups of water, or more, (if it gets too thick)
1 lime, juiced
1 bunch cilantro, chopped. (some reserved for garnish)
Serve with white rice and avocado (it is just as delicious on the side, inside the soup bowl or the soup over the rice!


In a large bowl, season the brisket with salt, cumin and paprika. Set aside.
Meanwhile, combine sofrito ingredients and pulse in food processor. (chunky or smooth, it's up to you) Set aside.
Dust the brisket in flour, (omit during Passover) shaking off the excess. Heat a large pot, then add oil and brown the brisket on all sides. Remove browned meat and set aside. In the same pot, saute the sofrito, making sure to scrape up the browned food bits (aka fond) in the pan.
Add the brisket back to the pot, along with the yuca and plantains and 4 cups water. Simmer on low heat for about 15 minutes. Add the rest of the ingredients and the rest of the water and simmer until the vegetables are fork tender and meat is soft.
Adjust seasonings with salt and freshly squeezed lime juice. Garnish with fresh cilantro, and serve with white rice and avocado if desired. 


Important:  Ashkenazi families consider corn and rice kitnityot and do not use them on Passover. Sometimes kosher for Passover saffron and cumin are difficult to find. Just omit these ingredients if they do not fit into your Passover tradition. Of course, omit the flour at Passover.

Recipe: Kosher, meat, Passover