If necessity is the mother of invention, my mother’s refusal to toss out perfectly good brisket inspired the invention of Brisket Blintzes.
As a child, I thought my mother’s cooking was the best of the best. She stuck to the typical dinner entrees of the 60s — meatloaf, spaghetti and meatballs, tuna casserole — and I ate it all with gusto. Her brisket recipe, which, happily, was on the permanent dinner rotation and not just saved for the holidays, was my absolute favorite. When the enticing aroma of fried onions filtered up to my bedroom, I knew I was in for a treat that evening.
Her brisket cooking technique was simple: Thinly slice an onion and sauté in schmaltz or vegetable oil until golden. Place the brisket in a roasting pan covered with the onions, then sprinkle the top with salt, pepper, and a dash of paprika. Roast at 350°F for 2-3 hours until tender. She used an electric knife to slice the brisket into paper-thin slices, yielding two dinners’ worth for my parents, brother and me, plus brisket sandwiches on rye for lunch. When, one week, several slices of brisket remained, this recipe was born.
My mother always served brisket blintzes with applesauce, so I do, too. The sweetness pairs nicely with the savory flavors of the meat and onion.
- If you don’t have leftover brisket, you can use 1 pound of roasted or braised brisket from your local Jewish deli (even better if it comes with gravy).
- Brisket blintzes freeze well. When ready to serve, reheat thawed blintzes in a 300°F oven for approximately 10-15 minutes until crisp.
For the crepes:
- 2 large eggs
- 1 cup all-purpose flour
- 1 cup soy, almond or whole milk
- vegetable or canola oil
For the brisket filling:
- 1 lb cooked brisket
- 5-10 Tbsp leftover gravy or 1 onion, chopped
- vegetable or canola oil
- salt and pepper
- To make the crepes, whisk eggs in a medium bowl. Add flour gradually, alternating with milk, whisking constantly to make a smooth, thin batter similar in texture to heavy cream. Rest the batter for 1 hour (optional, but advised).
- In a crepe pan or a 7- or 8-inch skillet, brush a small amount of oil onto pan, making sure the surface is covered, and bring to medium heat. Use a ¼ cup measuring cup to ladle batter into the skillet, quickly rotating it so the batter is evenly distributed and as thin as possible.
- Cook only until the edges of the crepe are set, about 15 seconds. With a fork or spatula, flip it over and cook for an additional 5 seconds. Do not let the crepes brown. Remove crepe from pan and stack on a plate. Continue until all batter is used, adding a small amount of oil if the pan gets dry.
- To make the brisket filling, in a food processor or blender, chop brisket until finely ground. If you have leftover gravy, use that to moisten the meat. If not, sauté an onion in 2 Tbsp oil until golden, then add to meat mixture and season with salt and pepper.
- To assemble, spoon 4 Tbsp (3 cookie scoops) of the brisket mixture in the bottom half each crepe. Fold the bottom of the crepe halfway over the filling, fold the sides in, then roll up. Fry in oil until nicely browned on both sides.
- Serve with applesauce.