|The string makes it look like a real roast, doesn't it?|
Ben said, on Saturday, “This is the kind of day, if you could bite it, it would be crunchy.” And it really was. True fall: crisp air, dazzling sun, blue skies, rolling banks of grey, sheeting rain, rolling banks of grey, blue skies, dazzling sun, pink stripes, moon. It was amazing. We spent the day with friends in that kind of wonderful one-thing-leads-to-another drifting togetherness that is the hallmark of a really good date: a child’s birthday party that turned into a post-storm bonfire that turned into hot dogs roasted on sticks that turned into mugs of hot and boozy cider under the stars. I only realized how late it had gotten when Birdy finally leaned against me and sighed, “I think I’m ready to go home.”
I am in full fall cooking mode, which may be my very favorite: roasts and stews and soups, but with fresh herbs still. It’s the best of all possible worlds for me, especially right now, when the romance between me and root vegetables is still young. I’d still pick them up at the airport, if you know what I mean. “Turnip!” I’d cry. “I missed you so much!” Not, “Oh, can't you just catch the shuttle when you get in?”
I’m re-posting a favorite fall recipe that ran on family.com, but kind of buried (it wasn’t part of my column). I’m going to be trying to move some of that lost content over to this blog in the next few months. This is just a take on my standard pot roast (lamely, my own photo captions over there just made me laugh), but the apricots make the gravy so succulently tangy—it’s the perfect foil for the rich, falling-apart meat. Yes, it’s a long haul in the oven, but mostly you’re ignoring it while it exhales its divine aromas into your house. Plus, I know that some of you will be doing this in a Crock Pot and will thus be entirely ignoring it. Until its flight gets in, at which point you will run towards it while the swelling music plays.
Apricot-braised Pot Roast
Active time: 35 minutes; total time: 5 hours
This luxuriously tender sweet-and-sour roast doesn't need a lot of attention during its long braise in the oven. The dried apricots dissolve into a luscious velvety sauce that makes you want to lick your plate (and then lick it).
a 4-pound beef roast (chuck is perfect for this)
3 tablespoons vegetable oil
2 yellow onions, sliced
2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
1 teaspoon kosher salt
Freshly ground pepper
1 cup red wine
2 cups chicken broth
2 cups water
2 tablespoons tomato paste
1 cup dried California apricots (Turkish are too bland for this)
1 tablespoon sugar
Heat the oven to 375.
In a Dutch oven or another heavy, lidded, ovenproof pot, heat a tablespoon of the oil for 10 minutes in the oven. Pat the meat dry with paper towels and season it well with salt and pepper, then roast it in the pot, uncovered, for half an hour.
Meanwhile, heat the remaining oil in a large frying pan over medium heat and cook the onions, stirring, until they’re turning soft and gold, then reduce the heat and cook, stirring occasionally, for another 20 minutes, at which point they should be deeply golden. Add the garlic, salt, and pepper, and stir for a minute or so, then add the broth, water, wine, tomato paste, apricots, and sugar, and bring to a boil.
Pour the panful of onions and and liquid over the roasted meat, then return it to the oven and cook, with its lid just barely ajar, for 4-5 hours--flipping the roast after 2--until a fork can easily pull it apart. Check it now and then to make sure the liquid hasn’t all cooked off; if it has, then stir in another cup of water every now and again.
Let the roast rest in the pan for half an hour or so, then slice it (it will fall apart) and serve it with the apricot gravy from the pan (skim off any visible fat). Or chill the roast overnight, slice it the next day, and arrange the slices in a large, shallow baking dish, then pour the gravy over it, and heat it in a 350 oven for half an hour. Serve with noodles or mashed potatoes or, shown here, kugel.
|This looks so good to me, even now, when I'm full of weird Trader Joe's wasabi seaweed snacks.|
|Hard as it is for me to concede, it's really high time for the flash.|
|If there were ever any leftovers, they would doubtless be great.|