Pot Roast Risotto
Being home has proved to be a bittersweet excuse for me to recklessly abandon all attempts at cooking. Why cook to feed myself, when the pantry and fridge are full (thank you, mom and dad) and there is that butter and sugar and flour waiting to be baked up into something delicious? It’s in the holiday spirit to bake, after all!
Everyone’s already gotten used to the higher influx of baked goods that circulate every couple days. Last night when my sister, brother and I were watching television my Dad walked in the room and in a hopeful tone asked, “Amy, aren’t there any treats to eat?” It’s became the assumption that there is always something sweet to snack on around here, so when I replied reminding him that there was leftover chocolate hazelnut yule log hidden in the fridge, everything seemed as it should.
But really, I haven’t given up on cooking. My mom passed off the responsibility of Christmas dinner to me this year. Ha, as if it were a responsibility! I received this “responsibility” as easily as I received my Christmas presents. (I should note here that I only had to plan this for 5 of my immediate family members, including myself. There wasn’t much pressure to succeed if it all fell through in the end anyway.) I plotted my menu, and it came to be something like this:
Pot Roast Risotto. More details on this later, obviously.
Braised kale with lemon, onion and red pepper flakes.
Salad with fennel, dried cherries, walnuts and roquefort.
These fresh potato-buttermilk rolls.
And for dessert, a chocolate-hazelnut yule log (also known as buche de noel).
Pretty simple, but everyone liked it and I’d like to think it all went fairly well in the end. From these things I want to share the pot roast risotto though. It’s a fairly straightforward recipe: sear the beef, braise in oven, use braised juices to feed the risotto. This concept of using the leftover braised liquid to flavor the risotto comes from Tyler Florence, and I think it’s pretty neat. It resulted in a really flavorful risotto and a pretty presentation with all the meat piled on top of a big heap of risotto (please forgive the photography that does little to show off the dish). As most all pot roasts are, the meat was tender and fell off the bone as we dug our forks however barbarically into the serving dish itself to grab at pieces of meat.
While this little stint at Christmas dinner got me in the mood in to cook, I’m afraid I’ve already begun retreating into that little comfortable cove of the oven with baking sweet treats. I blame you, wintertime and the holiday season.
Pot Roast Risotto
Adapted from Tyler Florence, here
Serves about six
6-8 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
3 lb beef shoulder (I actually used a ribeye cut, because it was on sale. A lot of different cuts work, though.)
3 garlic cloves, smashed
2 large onions, sliced roughly
4 sprigs fresh thyme
1 cup red wine
1-2 quarts beef stock (depending on how large your dutch oven is)
2 bay leaves
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
4 tablespoons butter
1 medium onion, diced
4 sprigs fresh thyme, leaves only
2 cups arborio rice
1 cup dry white wine
8 cups pot-roast braising stock, strained, skimmed and heated
1/2 cup freshly grated parmesan
1/2 cup italian flat-leaf parsley, chopped (optional)
To start with the pot roast, preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Drizzle a few tablespoons of olive oil over the pot roast and season liberally all over with salt and pepper. You can’t really over-do this when it comes to this. Meanwhile, heat three or four tablespoons of olive oil over moderately high heat in a large Dutch oven or heavy pot with a cover. When the oil is hot enough that it shimmers (and maybe even smokes), add the meat in the pot. Sear each side for about one or two minutes, making sure to sear the sides as well. The meat should get a nice crust and even, dark color. Once seared, add the garlic, chopped onions, thyme sprigs. Then pour in the red wine and stock, adding in the beef stock until liquid comes up to about half the height of the meat (this depends on how large your pot is).
Cover the pot tightly and place in the preheated oven. Cook for about 3 hours until the beef is fork tender, while making sure to bast the meat every thirty minutes or so with the pan juices and stock. Set the meat aside and take out the vegetables and thyme. Strain the braising liquid and skim the fat. This stock will be used to make the risotto, and if the fat isn’t skimmed out, the risotto will be heavier and greasier than it should. The stock should be kept warm on low heat throughout the process of making the risotto.
To prepare the risotto, heat about 2 tablespoons of olive oil and a tablespoon or so of butter in a large, deep skillet (12-inches is best) set over medium heat. Add diced onions and cook for 5 minutes or until softened. Add the rice, making sure to coat all the grains with the oil. Add the white wine and thyme leaves and cook until most of the liquid has evaporated. At this point, ladle in 1 cup of the prepared, hot braising stock. Using a wooden spoon, stir the rice constantly until most of the stock has been absorbed. Keep adding stock, one cup at a time, as the rice absorbs almost all of the liquid, making sure to consistently stir the rice. After about 10 to 15 minutes of this process, test the rice. It should be cooked and creamy but still be slightly al dente (you may not need all of the stock). Season with salt and pepper and then stir in about two tablespoons of butter and the grated parmesan cheese. Taste for seasoning then remove from heat and cover. Serve the dish with the pot roast placed on top of the risotto and sprinkled with parsley. Extra pan juices can be served over the roast and risotto, if desired.