Manischewitz Concord Grape Wine Credit: Julia Thiel

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Growing up, Stephen Hasson remembers sneaking tastes of Manischewitz Concord Grape Wine in the back of his temple. So when Ashlee Aubin of Wood and Salero restaurants challenged the chef at Ugo’s Kitchen & Bar to create a dish with the sweet wine, he immediately thought of his childhood. “We always had a bottle around, just sort of ceremonially, but it ended up going down the drain quite a bit,” he says. “I think the children would sneak more of it than the adults.”

That’s probably because Manischewitz wine is notoriously syrupy, more appealing to a child’s palate than an adult’s. While it’s often consumed for Passover and other Jewish holidays because it’s kosher, no one seems to actually like the taste of the wine. Because of its sweetness, Hasson says, his first idea was to make a dessert with it: peanut-butter-and-jelly gelato. “It’s so sweet that you kind of have to use it in place of sugar, [but] the acidity in the grapes can really curdle the cream,” he says. “It was a failed experiment from the beginning.”

Next up was Hasson’s version of his grandmother’s brisket. “She used to use grape jelly as her secret ingredient, and I feel like Concord grape wine and grape jelly are kind of on the same Brix scale,” he says. After curing the brisket in salt, sugar, and chile flakes, Hasson rinsed the meat, seared it, and added carrot, onion, celery, garlic, and veal demi-glace—plus an entire bottle of Manischewitz wine—before braising it for several hours.

But brisket isn’t exactly in line with the modern Italian cuisine that Ugo’s serves. Pizza, on the other hand, is a menu staple—so Hasson crafted a brisket pie. As a nod to the mushy carrots he remembers fishing out of the braising liquid as a child, he spread the dough with a carrot puree instead of tomato sauce. In addition to the brisket itself, he topped the Neapolitan-style crust with elements that would traditionally accompany the meat: onions (which he caramelized) and potatoes (cooked gently in duck fat, then deep-fried). A generous sprinkle of provolone cheese finished it off.

Stephen Hasson of Ugo's Kitchen & Bar
Stephen Hasson of Ugo’s Kitchen & BarCredit: Julia Thiel

Tasting the pizza, Hasson says, “The brisket is tender, potatoes add a nice little crunch, and the carrot puree definitely reminds me of completely overcooked carrots my grandma used to make.” He paired it, of course, with a glass of Manischewitz grape wine. He was pleased enough with the pizza to put it on the menu at Ugo’s as a special: starting Thursday, August 31, it will be available while supplies last.

Who’s next:
Hasson has challenged Bill Walker of the Kennison to create a dish with Rose pork brains in milk gravy, the only brand of canned pork brains still on the market in the U.S.

Manischewitz brisket pizza
Manischewitz brisket pizzaCredit: Julia Thiel

Manischewitz-braised brisket

1 untrimmed flat-cut brisket, 5 lbs
Kosher salt, freshly ground pepper
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
2 large onions, thinly sliced
3 celery stalks with leaves
8 small carrots
5 garlic cloves, smashed
6 sprigs thyme
2 bay leaves
1 28-oz can whole peeled tomatoes
1 tablespoon tomato paste
1 bottle Manischewitz Concord Grape Wine
1 quart veal demi-glace
8 medium Yukon gold potatoes

Season brisket with cure and let sit covered in the refrigerator for two hours. Rinse off cure completely and pat dry. Season both sides of the meat with salt and pepper. Heat oven to 325 degrees.

Heat a very large Dutch oven over high heat. Add oil and let heat. Add brisket and sear, without moving, until golden brown, about four to five minutes per side. Transfer to a plate.

Add onions, carrots, and celery to pot and reduce heat to medium-high. Cook vegetables, tossing occasionally, until onions are golden brown around the edges and very tender, about 15 minutes. Pour in wine and scrape up any browned bits from the bottom of the pot. Stir in bay leaves and bring liquid to a simmer; let simmer for five minutes to reduce slightly. Add veal demiglace and return to a simmer.

Place meat in pot, then cover pot and transfer to oven. Cook until meat is completely fork tender, three to four hours. After two and a half hours uncover pot.

Ideally this would be cooked a day ahead of time and allowed to cool in its own juices completely. Once cooled the white fat can easily be scraped off the top before reheating.

Carrot puree
500 grams peeled and diced carrots
20 grams butter
8 grams kosher salt
1 g pepper

Toss all ingredients together and cook in a water bath at 185 F for 25-35 minutes until completely tender. Puree in a blender until completely smooth. Adjust seasoning and reserve.

Caramelized onions
10 large yellow onions, sliced thin
Canola oil
5 cloves garlic
1 bay leaf
Salt to taste

Heat a large sauté pan over medium-high heat. Coat pan with canola oil and add remaining ingredients. Stir occasionally to cook evenly and prevent burning. Once all the onions are an even golden brown and caramel color spread on a parchment lines sheet tray and allow to cool.

Confit potatoes
10 Yukon gold potatoes
2 quarts duck fat
Garlic, rosemary (or other herbs) to taste (optional)

Wash the outside of the potatoes well. In a medium sauce pot heat duck fat over medium-low heat until completely melted. Add potatoes and aromatics (optional) and cover with aluminum foil. Bake at 350 F for 20-30 minutes or until fork tender. Allow potatoes to cool completely before cubing them up.

Pizza dough
700 grams 00 flour
700 grams AP flour
17 grams active dry yeast
808 ml warm water
17 grams kosher salt
17 grams extra-virgin olive oil

Combine both flours and salt in bowl of mixer fitted with the dough hook. Combine water and yeast and stir until completely dissolved and slightly frothy. With the mixer running slowly, add water and olive oil on medium speed for three to five minutes until dough starts to form. Cover and let rest for five to ten minutes to let the flour completely absorb the water. Turn mixer on medium and work the dough for five to ten minutes until smooth and uniform. Portion dough into 7-ounce dough balls and let rest covered on a flour-dusted cookie sheet. Can sit covered in refrigerator up to three days. Makes roughly ten 7-ounce personal pizzas. Pull dough out 10-15 minutes before you are ready to stretch your pizza for best results.

To assemble the pizza: Preheat oven or grill with a pizza stone to 650 F or as high as you can get it. Cube up the brisket and slowly reheat in the braising liquid. Stretch out pizza dough on a flour-lined table. Spread an even layer of carrot puree right up to the edges of the dough. Evenly distribute caramelized onions, potatoes, and brisket on top of the pizza. Sprinkle provolone cheese over everything and bake pizza for 6-10 minutes, turning halfway through to ensure even cooking.