Denver Bar Association
December 2012
© 2012 The Docket and Denver Bar Association. All Rights Reserved.
All material from The Docket provided via this World Wide Web server is copyrighted by the Denver Bar Association. Before accessing any specific article, click here for disclaimer information.

From Their Kitchen to Yours

Attorneys Karissa Donnoe, Jay Fernandez, John Vaught, and David Zisser agreed that cooking is most rewarding when it can be shared with others, especially around the holidays. These recipes have become standards for their holiday gatherings.


(Not) My Mother’s Brisket

From David Zisser, adapted from Gail Zweigenthal’s "My Mother’s Brisket," which appeared in the December 1995 issue of Gourmet.


5-to 6-pound first-cut beef brisket
3 tablespoons vegetable oil
3 large yellow onions, about
3 pounds, cut into ½-inch pieces
2 or 3 large garlic cloves, or to taste, minced
1 teaspoon paprika,
  preferably Hungarian
¾ teaspoon salt
¾ teaspoon freshly ground pepper
1½ cup red wine
1½ cup beef stock

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.

In a Dutch oven or other heavy baking pan large enough to hold brisket, heat 1 tablespoon oil in oven 10 minutes. Pat brisket dry and season with salt and pepper. Roast brisket in pan, uncovered, 30 minutes.

While brisket is roasting, in a large heavy skillet cook onions in remaining 2 tablespoons oil over medium-low heat, stirring, until softened and beginning to turn golden. Reduce heat and stirring, cook onions until deep golden. (This is probably the most important step; don’t rush it.) Stir in garlic, paprika, salt, and pepper and cook 1 minute. Stir in red wine and stock and bring to a boil.

Spoon onion mixture over brisket and bake, covered, with lid ½ inch ajar, 3½ hours, or until brisket is tender. (Check pan every hour and, if necessary, add water.) Remove brisket from oven and let it cool in onion mixture 1 hour. Remove brisket from the pan and wrap in foil until ready to serve. If not serving for several hours or until the next day, refrigerate.

Spoon onion mixture into a 1-quart measure and chill, until the fat congeals and can be easily removed.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Discard fat from onion mixture, add enough water to mixture to measure 3 cups total, and in a blender blend gravy until smooth. Slice brisket against the grain (thick or thin, as you prefer). In a large ovenproof skillet heat gravy until hot, add brisket, and heat in oven 30 minutes.

*A note from Zisser: Because no Jewish mother of my mother’s generation has (or will admit to having) measuring cups, spoons, or scales, all quantities should be considered approximate, or to taste.

Serves 8 to 10.


Chestnut Puree

From Jay Fernandez. He developed the recipe after reading about Chestnut trees in America. He serves it like mashed potatoes. It’s a fun side for the holidays because "it’s delicious and nobody has had it before," Fernandez said.


1½ pounds roasted and shelled chestnuts
3 cups chicken stock
1 medium rib of celery
1 teaspoon salt
3 tablespoons butter
½ cup heavy cream
ground black pepper and sugar to taste

Place the chestnuts, stock, celery, and salt in a saucepan. Bring to a boil.

Reduce heat to low, partially covered, and simmer for 45 minutes. There should be about 1 to 1 ½ cups of cooking liquid left.

Puree mixture along with cream and butter in a food processor until smooth.

Push mixture through a sieve to remove any lumps.

Adjust seasoning with additional salt, pepper, and sugar to taste. Serve warm with a small dollop of butter.

Serves 8 to 12.


Great-Grandma’s Sourdough Rolls

From Karissa Donnoe, whose great-grandmother still makes these rolls in Lafayette, Ind., each year for the holidays.


Sourdough Starter—

¾ cup sugar
3 tablespoons instant potatoes
1 package yeast

Sourdough Rolls—

½ cup sugar
½ cup corn oil
1 cup stirred sourdough starter
1½ cups warm water
6 cups bread flour
1 teaspoon salt

Mix dry starter ingredients and stir in 1 cup of very warm water with a wooden or plastic spoon. Let stand 8 to 12 hours.

Mix all ingredients for the rolls in a very large mixing bowl. (Batter will be stiff and sticky.) Cover bowl of dough with plastic wrap and let sit overnight.

Punch the dough down and knead three to four times. Divide dough into three parts and knead each one-third on a floured surface 10 times.

Place each section of dough into a greased loaf or muffin tin and gently stretch dough over the bottom. Lightly brush dough with oil and cover with plastic wrap. Let dough rise in warm environment for 5 hours.

Bake at 325 degrees F for 30 to 45 minutes or until lightly golden brown. Remove from pan and let cool.

Each third of dough will make one loaf of bread or can be made into 12 rolls.


Rich and Famous Gumbo

John Vaught’s mother discovered this recipe for seafood gumbo in Louisiana in the 1960s and it was a hit at her dinner parties. It was published in the Denver Junior League’s "Crème de Colorado" cookbook. Vaught makes this gumbo every Christmas Eve for his family.


Roux Mixture—

½ cup vegetable oil
½ cup all-purpose flour
4 celery stalks, chopped
2 medium onions, chopped
1 small green bell pepper,
seeded and chopped
1 clove garlic, minced
¼ cup minced fresh parsley
½ pound fresh okra, sliced, or one
10-ounce package frozen sliced okra
2 tablespoons butter

Gumbo –

1 quart chicken broth
1 quart water
¼ cup Worcestershire sauce
18 dashes of Tabasco sauce
¼ cup ketchup
1 medium tomato, peeled and chopped
½ teaspoon salt
½ pound Andouille sausage (New Orleans-style sausage), sliced
1 bay leaf
1/8 teaspoon dried thyme
1/8 teaspoon dried rosemary
¼ teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
1 cup diced cooked chicken
1 pound crabmeat
2 pounds shrimp, peeled and deveined
1 teaspoon molasses
¾ to 1 cup cooked white rice per serving

In stockpot, combine oil and flour and cook over low heat, stirring constantly, until roux is the color of a copper penny. This could take 1 to 1 ½ hours. Do not let roux burn. Stir in celery, onion, green pepper, garlic, and parsley. Cook for 45 minutes, stirring occasionally. In skillet, cook okra in butter until browned. Add to roux mixture and stir over low heat for 5 minutes. At this point, mixture may be cooled, packed and refrigerated or frozen for later use.

Add chicken broth, water, Worcestershire, Tabasco, ketchup, tomato, salt, sausage, bay leaf, thyme, rosemary, and red pepper to roux mixture. Simmer covered for 2 ½ to 3 hours, stirring occasionally. Thirty minutes before serving, stir in chicken, crabmeat, shrimp, and molasses. Pack cooked rice into a measuring cup and turn cup over in individual soup plates to form an island of rice. Ladle soup around rice mound.

Since preparation time is long, consider making roux mixture one day and completing the gumbo the following day. It is well worth the effort, and gumbo freezes beautifully.

Makes 4 quarts. D

Member Benefits DBA Governance Committees Public Interest The Docket Metro Volunteer Lawyers DBA Young Lawyers Division Legal Resource Directory DBA Staff The Docket