Chanukah with a Southern Accent


I have written in the past about my husband’s heritage as a Southern Jew raised in Arkansas. This menu reflects his family background and also makes things pretty simple for the Chanukah hosts.

Before you recoil at the idea of turkey so soon after Thanksgiving, let me assure you this is as far from the roast bird as you can possibly imagine. I served this at a recent gathering, and one guest thought it was pork.

I will presume that most of us have a “go-to” latke recipe, so this menu rounds out the rest of the Chanukah meal and keeps the stovetop free for the sizzling potato pancakes.

Lynne Mitchell/Thinkstock

Pulled Turkey

You can figure about a half-pound per person for portions; I roasted a 10-pound breast because I was feeding a crowd of 20, but you can select any size bird you wish. The cooking time will still be at least 5 hours. And rejoice if you have leftovers — they are wonderful tossed in salads or tacos, and make a fabulous base for a turkey pot pie or shepherd’s pie.

Serve this with sandwich rolls and barbecue sauce; it’s a simple, casual crowd pleaser.

Slow roasting the turkey upside down ensures a juicy result with no drying.

  • 1 turkey breast
  • ¼ cup vegetable oil
  • 1 tablespoon garlic powder
  • 1 tablespoon salt
  • 2 tablespoons crushed garlic
  • 1 cup white wine
  • 1 cup chicken stock, vegetable stock or water

Heat your oven to 275 degrees.

In a large roasting pan with a cover, place the turkey upside down. Rub oil and seasonings evenly over the meat, and pour wine and water into the bottom of the pan.

Cover the turkey, and place it in the oven for about 6 hours, checking periodically and basting it with juices.

When the turkey is fork tender (when it falls apart when poked with a fork), it’s done. Remove it from the heat, let rest for about 15 minutes, and pull it apart with two forks. Be sure to remove any bones and skin, just leaving the meat in the pan.


Coconut Loaf Cake

This pareve cake is a riff on my classic pound cake. Coconut cake is a Southern baker’s mainstay, but it generally is a triple-layer extravaganza with icing and flaked coconut on top. The version here is simpler, but you can jazz it up with drizzled dark chocolate, Nutella, toasted coconut, sorbet, fruit compote or pureed berries. It is also lovely with tea or coffee as an afternoon snack.

  • ½ cup coconut manna (also called “coconut butter”)
  • ½ cup coconut oil, melted and slightly cooled
  • 1⅓ cups sugar
  • 2½ cups flour
  • ½ teaspoon baking powder
  • Pinch salt
  • 3 eggs
  • ½ cup coconut milk or coconut water
  • ⅓ cup unsweetened, flaked coconut
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla

Heat your oven to 350 degrees. Grease and flour a standard loaf pan.

Mix the coconut manna with the melted coconut oil. Place all the ingredients in a large mixing bowl and beat on low until the wet and dry ingredients are just blended. Increase the speed to medium until the batter is a uniform texture. It will be rather thick and dough-like.

Scrape the batter into a prepared pan and bake for 60 minutes until done (when the top is golden brown, the cake springs back when poked and the toothpick comes out of the center clean). If the top is browning too quickly, cover it with foil for the bulk of the baking time and, if necessary, lower the heat to 325 degrees and leave the cake in the oven 10 minutes longer.

Cool and serve as desired.


Classic Cole Slaw

Serves eight to 10

This is a typical version of Southern slaw. It looks pretty with a mixture of red and green cabbage, but you can use whatever you have on hand. It keeps well for several days, so get a head start on the holiday and do this ahead of time.

  • ½ head green cabbage
  • ½ head red cabbage
  • 1 small onion
  • 5 carrots
  • 1 bunch parsley
  • ⅔ cup mayonnaise
  • 2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons pickle juice
  • A few generous pinches salt (to taste)
  • Lots of fresh ground pepper

Shred the vegetables using a Cuisinart or a grater or slice them with a sharp knife.

Toss with the remaining ingredients. Refrigerate overnight if possible.


  1. Keri, I hope you and your husband know about the Museum of the Southern Jewish Experience — originally in Mississippi, and now relocating to New Orleans in 2020. Southern Jewish foodways will be featured.


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