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A comforting beef and vegetable stew sweetened with dried fruit, tzimmes is a Jewish holiday staple, especially on Rosh Hashanah.
This is a cheffy version of my maternal grandmother’s tzimmes, a comforting beef and vegetable stew sweetened with dried fruit and orange juice. The dish is a Jewish holiday staple, especially on Rosh Hashanah, when we eat sweet and honey-flavored dishes to symbolize a sweet and prosperous new year. In Yiddish, the word “tzimmes” (pronounced tsi-miss) means to make a big fuss – and it’s true that making tzimmes is somewhat of to-do. But it is 100% worth the effort. Plus, the smell of tzimmes simmering on the stove for hours is nearly as enjoyable as eating it. Many versions of tzimmes are made without beef and are more of a side dish. This version stands alone as a main course. Serve with matzo ball soup and apple cake.
What You’ll Need To Make Beef Tzimmes
The most important thing is to start with the right cut of meat. You want to buy chuck roast that is well-marbled—that means it should have a good amount of white veins of fat running through it. Stay away from meat generically packaged as “stew meat,” especially if it looks lean (I can guarantee you it will not get tender, no matter how long you cook it).
How To Make Beef Tzimmes
Begin by removing any large chunks of fat that are easy to get to but don’t overdo it with the trimming, as the fat helps make the beef tender.
Pat the beef dry and season with the salt and pepper.
After heating the oil over medium-high heat until it’s hot and shimmering, place half of the beef in the pan and brown, turning with tongs, for about 5 minutes
To sear the meat properly, let the meat develop a nice brown crust before turning.
Add the onions, garlic, and balsamic vinegar to the pot; cook, stirring with a wooden spoon and scraping the brown bits from the bottom of the pan, for about 5 minutes.
Add the tomato paste and cook for 1 minute more.
Add the beef with its juices back to the pan and sprinkle with the flour.
Stir with the wooden spoon until the flour is dissolved.
Add the orange juice, water, beef broth, bay leaf, rosemary, 2 teaspoons of the thyme, and the sugar. Stir to loosen any brown bits from the bottom of the pan and bring to a boil.
After the stew has cooked for 2 hours, add the carrots and apricots. Cover and continue cooking for 30 minutes.
Add the sweet potatoes and prunes and cook for 30 minutes more.
Fish out the bay leaf and rosemary sprigs and discard. Taste and adjust seasoning, if necessary. Serve the stew or let it come to room temperature and then store in the refrigerator overnight or until ready to serve. (The flavor of the stew improves if made at least 1 day ahead.) Reheat, covered, over medium heat until hot throughout. Garnish with the remaining fresh thyme leaves.
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A comforting beef and vegetable stew sweetened with dried fruit, tzimmes is a Jewish holiday staple, especially on Rosh Hashanah.
- 3 pounds boneless beef chuck (well-marbled), cut into 1½-inch pieces
- 2 teaspoons salt
- 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- 3 tablespoons olive oil
- 2 medium yellow onions, cut into 1-inch chunks
- 5 large cloves garlic, peeled and smashed
- 2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
- 1 tablespoon tomato paste
- ¼ cup all-purpose flour
- ½ cup orange juice, from 2 oranges
- ½ cup water
- 4 cups beef broth
- 1 bay leaf
- 2 sprigs fresh rosemary
- 4 teaspoons fresh thyme leaves, divided
- 1 tablespoon brown sugar
- 4 large carrots, peeled and cut into one-inch chunks on a diagonal
- ½ cup dried apricots
- 1 pound sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into one-inch chunks
- ½ cup prunes
- Pat the beef dry and season with the salt and pepper. In a large Dutch oven or heavy soup pot, heat 1½ tablespoons of the olive oil over medium-high heat until hot and shimmering. Place half of the beef in the pan and brown, turning with tongs, for about 5 minutes; add the remaining oil and brown the remaining beef. (To sear the meat properly, let the meat develop a nice brown crust before turning with tongs.) Transfer the meat to a large plate and set aside.
- Add the onions, garlic, and balsamic vinegar to the pot; cook, stirring with a wooden spoon and scraping the brown bits from the bottom of the pan, for about 5 minutes. Add the tomato paste and cook for 1 minute more. Add the beef with its juices back to the pan and sprinkle with the flour. Stir with the wooden spoon until the flour is dissolved, about 1 minute. Add the orange juice, water, beef broth, bay leaf, rosemary, 2 teaspoons of the thyme, and the sugar. Stir to loosen any brown bits from the bottom of the pan and bring to a boil. Cover the pot with a lid, reduce the heat to a simmer, and cook for 2 hours.
- Add the carrots and apricots. Cover and continue cooking for 30 minutes. Add the sweet potatoes and prunes and cook for 30 minutes more, or until all the vegetables and meat are tender. Fish out the bay leaf and rosemary sprigs and discard. Taste and adjust seasoning if necessary. Serve the stew or let it come to room temperature and then store in the refrigerator overnight or until ready to serve. The flavor of the stew improves if made at least 1 day ahead.) Reheat, covered, over medium heat until hot throughout. Garnish with the remaining fresh thyme leaves.
- Freezer-Friendly Instructions: The stew can be frozen for up to 3 months. Just omit the sweet potatoes because they don’t freeze well. If you’d like, boil some sweet potatoes separately when you defrost the stew and either add them into the stew prior to serving or serve them on the side. Defrost the stew in the refrigerator for 24 hours before you plan to serve it and then reheat on the stovetop over medium heat until hot.
- Per serving (6 servings)
- Calories: 590
- Fat: 18 g
- Saturated fat: 6 g
- Carbohydrates: 53 g
- Sugar: 18 g
- Fiber: 6 g
- Protein: 56 g
- Sodium: 1,374 mg
- Cholesterol: 143 mg
This website is written and produced for informational purposes only. I am not a certified nutritionist and the nutritional data on this site has not been evaluated or approved by a nutritionist or the Food and Drug Administration. Nutritional information is offered as a courtesy and should not be construed as a guarantee. The data is calculated through an online nutritional calculator, Edamam.com. Although I do my best to provide accurate nutritional information, these figures should be considered estimates only. Varying factors such as product types or brands purchased, natural fluctuations in fresh produce, and the way ingredients are processed change the effective nutritional information in any given recipe. Furthermore, different online calculators provide different results depending on their own nutrition fact sources and algorithms. To obtain the most accurate nutritional information in a given recipe, you should calculate the nutritional information with the actual ingredients used in your recipe, using your preferred nutrition calculator.
My aunt has celiac disease. Would it be ok to use corn starch as a substitute to all purpose flour?
Thanks for your help!
Hi Nicole, Sure, either cornstarch or gluten-free flour will work. If you’d like to use cornstarch, at the very end of cooking time, make a “slurry” by combining 2T cornstarch with 2T cold water; mix until completely smooth. Whisk half of the slurry into the stew and bring to a gentle boil on the stovetop and simmer until the broth is thickened and any starchy taste has been cooked away. If you want the broth thicker, add the remaining slurry and repeat. Enjoy!
Sounds great! Thank you 👍🏼🙏
As I understand it, I am supposed to cook the carrots and and apricots for 30 minutes, after which I add the sweet potatoes and prunes and cook for an additional 30 minutes. Is there any reason I can’t add all four items at the same time and just cook for 30 minutes? I started this a little late tonight and would love to shave 30 minutes off.
Hi Tess, I’m obviously weighing in too late to help but the reason I have the recipe written that way is so the prunes and sweet potatoes don’t get too soft, but if you make this again and are really pressed for time, it wouldn’t be the end of the world to add them together. Hope you enjoyed it!
Hi Jenn, this looks wonderful and am making it for the first time tomorrow. General question about the beef. The beef in your photo has a large chunk of fat in the middle, as does my piece of beef. Would you normally cut that out, or throw it in the pot?
Hi Karen, I would remove the large chunks of fat, but be sure not to overdo it because the fat helps to make the beef tender. Hope you enjoy!
I made this recipe for the second time today; last time was in September of 2020. I mustn’t wait so long next time. This is among my top 10 favorite recipes! It delicious. I shared photos of all the prep, mise en place-style, on Facebook last time, but I don’t use Instagram. Maybe I’ll try to figure it out and post a shot of the finished dish.
ABSOLUTELY DELICIOUS! I followed the directions exactly the way it was presented. Didn’t add or take away anything! Will make it again, real soon. Thank you.
Can you use brisket instead of chuck roast
I wouldn’t recommend it — sorry!
This was amazing! Awesome combo of flavors. I’ve never tried cooking with a hunk of beef like this but the way Jenn gave step by step instructions really helped. Hearty dish but doesn’t leave you feeling too full.
I’ve made this a few times, and it’s always delicious! My family is not big on sweet potatoes, though, so I always sub in regular potatoes. I love the sweetness from the prunes and apricots!
Making for our Christmas dinner for the second year in a row. Thanks Jenn… 😉
Argh I was planning to make this in the morning and realized I forgot the prunes. Can I double the apricots instead?
Sure, that should be fine. Hope you enjoy! 🙂
I made this for Rosh Hashanah dinner and it was delicious! Also, not too sweet, just right 🙂
This was positively delicious! I made it for the first night of Chanukah. My husband thought there was too much liquid, but I didn’t agree. His mother nor grandmothers never made tsimmes but my one grandmother did, and, boy, did I like it! This was perfect. Probably would have been more appropriate for Rosh Hashanah, but I made your outrageous brisket recipe for that and wanted something different. Thank you again for a great recipe!
Oh my word this is AMAZING! We are beef stew lovers at this house. I find the whole process therapeutic even if at the end this crowd eats it in ten mins it seems! However I have some big kuddos for this recipe. It has taken me a few years to perfect my own beuf burgionon recipe, which was my go-to for stew. However, I was intrigued by Jenn’s recipe here for her Jewish traditional stew. I made it exactly (minus apricots) and served it this past Sunday. My husband says it is the best beef stew I’ve ever made and he prefers it now over my own special recipe! Truth is, so do I! Thank you for a new family fav! 💖
I used butternut squash rather than sweet potatoes because that’s what I had on-hand. It was very good. The stew-eaters in my family really enjoyed it and said I had outdone myself with this dish.
Made this tonight and the flavor is awesome!!
Question…is the broth supposed to be on the thinner side? The picture on your site looks like the broth is like a stew consistency…on the thicker side. Will it thicken as it sets overnight?
Hi Dana, If you added the flour, it should be slightly thickened, like a stew — and it should also thicken up overnight. If it doesn’t thicken adequately, you can mash a tablespoon of soft butter with a tablespoon of flour and whisk it into the simmering stew. After a few minutes, it should thicken up. Hope that helps!
This was exquisite. We cooked it traditional African style on a wood fire in a black cast iron pot. Definitely a new family favorite. Thank you Jenn! from Namibia, Africa
Oh wow, how fun! A tzimmis potjie! ✡️🇿🇦🍠🥕🥩🔥😜
Oh my goodness! This stew is fabulous. There’s been very cold weather and historical lows in my part of the US. This stew was an awesome treat to have at the end of a frigid work day. Make it the day before and serve it for dinner the next day. We didn’t expect to eat the entire pot!!! It’s that yummy.
So delicious! Turned out really good. Thanks for the great recipe. Will be a fall staple at our house.
Jenn – I LOVE your recipes, you are my go to place for consistently reliable and delicious recipes. And I direct all my friends to your blog! Thank you!! ❤️ In this recipe should the sweet potatoes be peeled?
So glad you enjoy the recipes, Sue! Yes, they should be peeled – will update the recipe now (thx for catching that!).
This looks yummy! Never had it before. Will definitely give it a try.
Oooh, I cannot WAIT to try this! It’s the closest recipe to my grandma’s tzimmes that I’ve seen…except she just used prunes, not apricots too. Unfortunately we don’t have her recipe so my mom is excited to try yours too. 🙂 She said that my grandmother used flanken, which we can’t get anymore…very interested to see how the beef chuck tastes in comparison.
Have a happy and sweet new year!
I hope you enjoy it, Sheri. I use less sugar than my grandmother did — hers was VERY sweet — but the flavors are very similar.
What sides do you suggest?
Hi Lee Ann, this would pair nicely with challah and an Arugula Salad with Apples & Manchego. Hope that helps!
Hi, Sheri. I just saw your comment on this wonderful tzimmes recipe. Depending on where you live, you might try looking for “beef short ribs,” which is the English name for flanken. Hope this helps.