A Deli-Lover’s Barbecue

By Lucy Cohen Blatter

Published June 29, 2011.
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Charlie Kleinman is the chef at San Francisco’s Wexler’s — a modern barbecue restaurant. (For those interested in New York Jewish history, Kleinman’s grandfather was the owner of the storied Lower East Side kosher Garden Cafeteria — which stood next to the original Forward offices and often hosted Jewish intelligentsia — from the 1940s through to the 1980s.)

Appetizer: A Modern Play on Schav Soup

Combine two cups of coconut milk, a bunch of sorrel, one English cucumber, five leaves of mint, a big of chopped jalapeno, one clove of garlic and salt. Blend it all together in a blender or food processor. Serve it with pumpernickel croutons — made by cutting up pumpernickel bread and toasting it with olive oil and toasting.

Main Course: Pastrami-style burgers

Start with store-bought pastrami spice, or make your own using black pepper, coriander, fennel seed, garlic and onion powder, and mix it with hamburger meat (roughly 2 tablespoons of spice to 1 pound of meat). Grill the burgers.

Side: Deli Mustard Coleslaw

Shred a green or red cabbage, some carrots, and slice a red onion. Make a dressing out of deli mustard (Gulden’s Spicy Brown is Kleinman’s favorite), cider vinegar, salt, pepper and a little bit of sugar. Then toss the vegetables with the dressing. You can make this a hour ahead of time or 24-hours in advance.

Side: Quick-Pickled Green Tomatoes

Toast up some peppercorns and coriander in a dry pot at low heat until they smell fragrant. Add two cloves of fresh chopped garlic, a quart of water, one-to-two cups of white vinegar (to taste), one cup of sugar, and two heaping tablespoons of kosher salt. Let it all melt on the stove at high heat. Add quartered green tomatoes. Cook the green tomatoes in the brine for about three or four minutes, and then let everything cool. If you’re using ripe tomatoes (red ones), cool down the brine first, pour it over the tomatoes and let the tomatoes marinate in the juices. This dish can last in the fridge for two weeks.

Dessert: Grilled Stone Fruit Compote

Cut plums, peaches and apricots in half and throw them on the grill. Keep them there just long enough to make grill marks, but make sure they don’t get too mushy. Either slice or keep the fruits halved and pour Manischewitz sweet wine on top to mascerate them. Let them sit for 1-2 hours.


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