Wow the holidays have started. Thanksgiving down, Christmas on deck. Time off from the restaurant…good.
We are taking the four day weekend off for Thanksgiving. It’s always bittersweet to close the restaurant since the expenses still continue, power bills, leases, insurance, bills, etc, but there is no revenue coming in. Fortunately we have 10 caterings this upcoming week for the start of the holiday season which will allow us to make up for being closed the two days. Ultimately both Nancy and I love our business and really enjoy everything we do, but when we close before Thanksgiving and around Christmas is like our vacation time.
Before I get into my vacation time let me give you a few updates on what is going on with past topics.
I’ve gained 40% of the weight I lost in the first seven months of the year back in the past four months. It’s unbelievable to me that I can repeat the same patterns over and over again. I’ve been trying to get back on track for the past few weeks and today might be the day.
The new restaurant is still on track. The land is completely cleared, grading has begun and they expect to lay the concrete pad in the next few weeks. We are so busy and still turning down business so we are going to do some work to expand the current restaurant so we have more prep space and room to prepare more food. I’m in the process of turning part of our dry storage area into part of the restaurant.
So we are taking advantage of the time off before the work all starts again. We have been relaxing, seeing friends, cooking, watching movies, and exercising the dog.
I think so far we have made THE turkey, pumpkin cheesecake, pumpkin pie, gnocchi, pumpkin pancakes (see picture below, and Nancy’s recipe here), Italian sausage and egg breakfast burritos, butternut squash, mashed potatoes, stuffing…holy cow. No wonder I can barely move and have been constantly full for the past three days.
Last weekend I made pot roast braised in Chianti and served it with glazed parsnips and carrots as well as some mashed potatoes. I’m sure I’ve had parsnips before, but I couldn’t recall the experience. I loved the texture, the flavor, pretty much the whole package. I actually ended up making parsnip soup a few days later as well. Recipe to follow soon!
The pot roast was perfect for a cold fall/winter day. I braised the meat for three hours and it was perfectly fork-tender and super flavorful. I found the recipe in Molly Stevens book “All About Braising: The Art of Uncomplicated Cooking“. This is the 2nd or 3rd recipe I have cooked out of this book and I’ve liked them all.
Chianti Pot Roast with Glazed Parsnips and Carrots - serves 6 to 8
- 3 1/2 lb boneless beef chuck roast
- 2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
- 1 large yellow onion, coarsely chopped
- 1 carrot, coarsely chopped
- 1 stalk celery, coarsely chopped
- 2 cloves garlic, crushed and peeled
- 1 cup Chianti or other dry red wine
- 1 cup beef or chicken stock
- 3 large 3-4″ sprigs fresh sage
- 2 to 3 sprigs fresh Italian parsley
- 8-10 black peppercorns
- Parchment Paper
Glazed Parsnips and Carrots – serves 6 to 8
- 1½ pounds small to medium carrots, peeled, or ¾ pound each carrots or parsnips, peeled
- 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
- 1 tablespoon unsalted butter
- Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
- ½ cup braising liquid from braised beef
- 1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
- Pinch of sugar
- 2 tablespoons chopped fresh sage
- 2 tablespoons chopped Italian parsley
Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Season beef with salt and pepper. Heat oil in a large Dutch oven or other heavy 5-quart pot over medium heat. Add beef and brown on all sides, turning with tongs, about 18 minutes. Remove beef and set aside on a large plate to catch juices. Remove charred bits with a damp paper towel.
Return pot to medium-high heat and add onion, carrot, celery and garlic. Season lightly with salt and pepper. Cook, stirring often, until just starting to brown, about five minutes. Pour in wine and scrape bottom with a wooden spoon to release caramelized juices. Boil to reduce by about a third, about six minutes. Add broth, return to boil and cook until reduced by about a third, another five minutes. Return meat to pot and add sage, parsley and peppercorns. Cover with a piece of parchment paper, pressing down so it nearly touches the meat and the edges of the paper overhang the pot by about an inch. Set lid in place.
Transfer pot to rack set in lower third of oven and braise at a gentle simmer. After 15 minutes check that the liquid isn’t simmering too vigorously. Lower heat by 10 to 15 degrees if it is. Turn roast once halfway through braising, total time of about 3 hours or until fork tender. (Be careful when opening lid to turn meat — the steam is very hot.)
While the beef is cooking, cut carrots and parsnips into sticks by first cutting crosswise in half. Cut thicker tops lengthwise into quarters and thinner tips in half, then cut into sticks about three inches by ½ inch. Set aside.
Remove pot from oven. Lift beef out with tongs, set on a carving surface and cover loosely with foil. Strain cooking liquid into a saucepan, pressing down on solids to extract as much liquid as possible. Discard solids. Let braising liquid settle for a few minutes, then spoon off fat with a large spoon. Reserve ½ cup braising liquid for vegetables.
Heat oil and butter in a 10-inch skillet over medium-high heat. When hot, add vegetables and season lightly with salt and pepper. Cook until lightly glazed and browned in spots. Add reserved ½ cup braising liquid. Reduce heat and simmer partially covered six to eight minutes or until tender but not mushy. Uncover and bring back to a boil. Add vinegar, sugar, sage and parsley. Cook about one minute or until liquid is reduced to a glaze.
Heat remaining reserved cooking liquid over medium-high heat and boil for a couple of minutes to concentrate their flavor. (The juices will not be thick.) Adjust seasoning with salt and pepper if needed. Cut strings from roast and cut meat across the grain into thick slices. Serve with vegetables and juices on the side.