Sunday, March 30, 2008

Pot Roast & Risotto

If you have been reading my blog since day one (which was only a few weeks ago), you might recall that I was pining for pot roast. I took out what I thought was a pot roast from my freezer but it turned out to be about 4 pounds of ground beef. Well, I finally made the pot roast that I have been dying for. I am one of those cooks who tries new recipes constantly. I rarely make the same recipe twice. But in this case, I loved Tyler Florence's pot roast and risotto recipe so much that I am on my third or fourth time making it. That really says something for this recipe. Tyler Florence makes this pot roast on the stove top in a large dutch oven. I am not sure why we couldn't use a slow cooker but I didn't. I followed his recipe to the letter. It was so good that I didn't want to mess with success. The recipe is time-consuming at over 3 hours just to cook the pot roast (which is why I thought it could be put into a slow cooker) but it is so worth the time. Just try it once and you'll be hooked on this pot roast too! The risotto is creamy and heavenly -- so luscious. All I can say is yum!

Pot Roast Risotto
3 hrs., 55 mins.


Pot Roast:

2 1/2 pound beef shoulder
3 garlic cloves, smashed
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
4 sprigs fresh thyme
2 medium onions, peeled and sliced in half
4 large carrots, cut in half
2 celery stalks, sliced in large pieces
1 cup red wine
2 quarts beef stock
2 sprigs of rosemary
2 bay leaves
Extra-virgin olive oil
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper


1 medium onion, finely chopped
4 sprigs fresh thyme, leaves picked
2 cups Arborio rice
1 cup dry white wine
8 cups pot-roast braising stock, strained, skimmed and heated
1/2 cup freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano
1/2 cup chopped fresh Italian parsley
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
Extra-virgin olive oil

Cooking Instructions:

Start with the pot roast. Drizzle the meat with extra-virgin olive oil and then season all over with a good amount of kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper. In a large Dutch oven or other heavy pot that has a tight cover, heat 2 tablespoons of the oil and 1 tablespoon of butter over moderately high heat. Sear the beef all over, ensuring a nice crust and good even color. Add the rosemary, thyme, bay leaves and garlic cloves to the beef. Then add the onions, carrots and celery and cook for 2-3 minutes. Add the red wine and then the stock.

Cover the pot and reduce the heat to low. Braise for about 3 hours, basting every 30 minutes with the pan juices, until the beef is fork tender. Set the meat aside and take out the vegetables. Strain the braising liquid and skim the fat, this will be used to make the risotto.

Now prepare the risotto. Place a large, deep skillet over medium heat and pour in 3 tablespoons of olive oil. Add onions and cook for 5 minutes, until soft. Stir in the rice making sure to coat all the grains with the oil. Add wine and thyme and cook until most of the liquid has evaporated. Ladle in 1 cup of strained, hot braising stock. Using a wooden spoon, stir constantly until most of the stock has been absorbed. Keep adding stock, one cup at a time, and stirring until absorbed. After about 10 to 15 minutes, test the rice. It should be cooked and creamy but still have a slight bite to it. (You may not need all of the stock.) Season with salt and pepper; stir in Parmesan cheese. Taste for seasoning then remove from heat and cover. Just before serving fold in chopped parsley.

To serve, slice the pot roast and arrange over the top of the risotto with some of the vegetables. Garnish with fresh parsley stems.

I didn't use all the beef stock to make the risotto but I didn't have much left. I like my risotto more creamy than crunchy. I didn't keep the onions and celery that were cooked with the roast. I did keep the carrots to enjoy with dinner. The pot roast and risotto wasn't very photogenic so if you really need to see a better picture you can check out and search for pot roast and risotto.

Saturday, March 29, 2008

French Toast

Last night, my son and I were watching Good Eats with Alton Brown on the Food Channel. He was doing a show all about toast. He created the yummiest looking French Toast I have ever seen. After the show was over, my son and I looked at each other and decided we HAD to make that French Toast. It is similar to the French Toast I ate as a child only in the fact that it uses eggs and bread. Other than that, it is light years away from the French Toast my mom made 30 plus years ago. She always used Silvercup bread. She dipped the bread in an egg batter and frequently dipped that into breadcrumbs and fried it up for us. We would always douse it with pancake syrup and powdered sugar. I loved that French toast until I started making my own. I used whatever store-bought bread I happened to have in the house, dipped it an egg, vanilla and milk mixture. I would fry it up in my electric frying pan. My son enjoyed that type of French Toast until we tried Alton Brown's French Toast extravaganza!

One of Alton Brown's comments about authentic French Toast were that you should use high quality bread. The options he suggests are day-old country loaf, brioche or challah bread. I could only find challah bread at the grocery store. I am not sure how "high quality" it was but it did make some yummy French toast. We enjoyed it on Saturday morning with some strawberries, real maple syrup and powdered sugar.

French Toast courtesy of Alton Brown

1 cup half-and-half
3 large eggs
2 tablespoons honey, warmed in microwave for 20 seconds
1/4 tsp salt
8 (1/2 inch) slices day-old country loaf, brioche or challah bread
4 tablespoons butter

In a medium size mixing bowl, whisk together the half-and-half, eggs, honey, and salt. You may do this the night before. When ready to cook, pour custard mixture into a pie pan and set aside.

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Dip bread into mixture, allow to soak for 30 seconds on each side, and then remove to a cooling rack that is sitting in a sheet pan, and allow to sit for 1 to 2 minutes.

Over medium-low heat, melt 1 tablespoon of butter in a 10-inch nonstick saute pan. Place 2 slices of bread at a time into the pan and cook until golden brown. Approximately 2 to 3 minutes per side. Remove from pan and place on rack in oven for 5 minutes. Repeat with all 8 slices. Serve immediately with maple syrup, whipped cream or fruit.

I had to double the custard ingredients to have enough for all 8 slices of bread. My bread slices must have been gigantic. Also, I added a half teaspoon of vanilla to the custard because I love a little vanilla in my French Toast batter. Try this recipe one Saturday morning when you have time. I know you'll love it.

The Creative Cook