For over 25 years I have prepared a traditional Thanksgiving feast, but truthfully the meal is not traditional in terms of my family’s recipes or origins.
This Thanksgiving I am going to acknowledge my parent’s journey which took them from Poland to Germany to France where they remained till 1952 when they, along with my sister, traveled to Genoa, Italy, and boarded a ship to the United States. After having recently read that a well-known chef includes potato kugel at his Thanksgiving dinner, I’ve decided to include a dish that reflects my roots. My mom loved Flanken, and since it fits in perfectly with this American meal, in addition to turkey, we are going to have what she called “gedempfte fleish.” Braised short ribs, cooked until the meat melts off the bone. I called my sister to ask for my mother’s recipe, but she couldn’t remember anything other than it included a bay leaf, which matches my memory exactly.
It feels surprisingly liberating to take a break from “tradition” and add something new to the menu, or something old, depending on how you look at it. My parents loved Thanksgiving, my mom always prepared turkey and sweet potatoes, and even bought canned cranberry sauce. Although it was never verbalized, I knew how lucky they felt to have survived, and to be in this country. That’s something that comes to my mind each Thanksgiving and makes me forever thankful.
P.S. This recipe is nothing like my mom’s ( I am guessing) but I did include a bay leaf.
Short Ribs (Flanken)
1 1/2 pounds beef short ribs
1/2 teaspoons salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 tbsp olive oil
1 large carrot, diced
1 stalk celery, thinly sliced
1 small onion, diced
2 garlic cloves, coarsely chopped
1 tablespoon tomato paste
2 cups water
1 bay leaf
Season the ribs with salt and pepper. Heat a heavy bottomed pot over medium-high heat and coat the bottom of the pan with olive oil. Add the ribs and let brown, really brown, that’s where all the flavor is. Remove ribs to a plate and add vegetables, season with salt and pepper to taste. Saute vegetables for 4 or 5 minutes, scraping up bits of meat from the bottom of the pan. Lower heat, and add garlic and tomato paste, again stirring for several more minutes but do not let burn. Return ribs to pot, add enough water just to barely cover meat, add bay leaf, and place lid on pot. Put in preheated 325 degree oven for about 2 1/2 hours. Check after about an hour to make sure there is enough liquid, and add water if necessary. Turn ribs over half way though baking time. When meat is very tender your flanken is ready to be served. Take out the bay leaf, place ribs on the serving plate, and purée vegetables and any liquid remaining in pot in food processor. Put ribs back into thickened sauce, and serve. Serves 2-3
December 5, 2014 at 10:04 AM
Any chance you will create a pinterest account for us to follow your blog?! Please and thank you!
December 9, 2014 at 10:56 AM
I am going to look into it. I lost my father-in-law this week so it may take a few days or so. I will let you know but thank you for the suggestion!!
November 17, 2014 at 1:07 PM
Hi Irene, my sister’s mother in law, makes potato kugel for every holiday, Jewish or not. As Ellie is older now, she is passing on the tradition to her niece Andrea, my sister and I. Here’s to all sorts of traditions round the thanksgiving table. Cheers, Barbie
November 17, 2014 at 3:24 PM
Amen Barbie. Nice story!! Hope you have a wonderful Thanksgiving!!!
November 14, 2014 at 11:50 AM
I don’t remember how mommy prepared flanken but I loved it too. I know she did not put in any vegetables except maybe garlic, if that. Your recipe sounds delicious and looks delicious. It is so strange that we were both thinking about the same thing. Just two days ago I was explaining to Jeffrey how mommy made “gedemft fleish” for dinner at least every week or every two weeks. We were talking about the foods we ate when we lived “at home.” Have a happy Thanksgiving with Norman and Shira and Micah and friends.
Love you, your shvester.
November 14, 2014 at 12:43 PM
Synchronicity for sure! So strange that we can’t remember how she prepared it, when she made it so often????? Sorry you won’t be here with us, we will miss you!
Love you too!
November 14, 2014 at 11:05 AM
I have been thinking about making short ribs for a couple of weeks. I didnât have a recipe, but you fixed that. Thank you. I will give you a report.
Shabbat Shalom, Jeff
November 14, 2014 at 11:43 AM
The prep time was no more than about 30 minutes but then I had to wait till they were finished baking. Would love to know how they turn out! I would double the recipe next time. I did have to add a little more liquid half way through, about 1/2 cup.
November 14, 2014 at 9:51 AM
Yum! I am definitely going to make this! I have a question — how do you request that the ribs be cut by the butcher? The few times I’ve purchased short ribs, I think they were cut differently than what I’m seeing in your pictures.
November 14, 2014 at 10:22 AM
They come in long strips at the butcher. I just cut them in thirds at home. Were your ribs thicker? If so, then take them home and just cut them in between the bones? About 2″pieces? I wouldn’t worry very much, just cook low and slow.
November 14, 2014 at 3:41 AM
Delicious we’ll miss being there
November 14, 2014 at 6:42 AM
Sooo easy Elizabeth. You guys should make a pot, double it and freeze half!
We will really really miss you too!!
November 13, 2014 at 11:03 PM
Hi Irene I have to try this for my family . I so remember my mom making gedemptke fleish. It was one of my favorite dinners. Of course now I dont eat red meat but I think Mike will love it. Maybe I will make it for my Thanksgiving Shabbat dinner. I’ll let you know. Hope all is well Jessica
November 14, 2014 at 6:41 AM
It is so simple to make and other than the oven time, prep doesn’t take more than a half hour. How did your Mom make it?? Please let me know and Happy Thanksgiving!
November 13, 2014 at 9:00 PM
This is almost exactly how I make flanken except I never thought of pureeing the vegetables and the left over liquid. On another subject entirely, I just started reading Yes Chef — a memoir by Marcus Samuelson — New York Times bestseller. You are a MUCH more interesting and engaging writer … you should get busy on a book.
November 13, 2014 at 9:34 PM
It’s a good way to have a thicker sauce without adding flour to the meat. That’s why I love you, always supportive and encouraging!!!