Wednesday, November 10, 2010

"Craig Claiborne's Favorites" - French Pot Roast with Red-Wine Sauce

Date I made this recipe: November 7, 2010

Craig Claiborne’s Favorites (Series II) from The New York Times
Published by Times Books
© 1975
Recipe: French Post Roast with Red-Wine Sauce p. 291 (September 21, East Hampton, “Side Dish, Front and Center” with Pierre Franey) (Note: this recipe calls for an overnight marinade plus 3 hours of cooking)

Back around the first of October, I was listening to the radio show, The Splendid Table, when I heard Lynne Rossetto Kasper and guest, southern writer, John T. Edge, talk about the influence Craig Claiborne had on American cooking. At the time, I made a mental note to make something of his, seeing as how I have a couple of his cookbooks but one thing led to another and here we are in November. Time flies when you are having cooking fun!

I don’t know as I had much knowledge of Craig until I started reading James Villas’ cookbooks several years ago. Craig and James were good friends and James often mentioned cooking with Craig (and partying with Craig) in his books.

Like James Villas and John T. Edge, Craig Claiborne was from the south. There’s just something about southern cooking and southern life that intrigues me even though I can’t imagine living there (because of critters—like snakes and whatnot).

Craig, though, branched out beyond the south, not only with his recipes but with his writing; as restaurant critic and food editor of The New York Times, he got to go around the world without leaving Manhattan. The availability of a vast variety of food is one of the many things I love about New York.

What I really like about this cookbook is that each chapter is a theme. On one page, you can find a recipe for Black Forest Cake, taken from the entry on February 9 (1975) titled Pride of the Forest, and a few pages later, you’ll find a chapter titled Persian Cookery. Let me just say that I had a hard time selecting a recipe but am glad I waited until now to make the pot roast with wine—a perfect dish for a fall day. (Let me also just say that my house had a wonderful mulled wine smell in it for two days thanks to the wine and spice marinade this roast had to rest in!).

And speaking of marinade, you should know that you need to plan in advance to make this recipe. Your meat has to marinade minimally overnight (if not longer) and then you need to allow 3 hours for cooking time. Making the marinade was a piece of cake though, so don’t let a little thing like that deter you! You should also know that I emptied out two bottles of wine for the marinade but drew the line at opening a third bottle and that was wise because as it is, the stuff splashed all over my refrigerator and floor. Oops! (And no, I didn’t have a little nip as I was preparing the dish.) (And let me just say that this is when it pays to lay in a case of “Two Buck Chuck” from Trader Joe’s!).

And speaking of wine, let me just mention that Craig (and James Villas) often cooked and collaborated with Frenchman (chef) Pierre Franey. Craig and Pierre share this recipe and Pierre likely had a hand in the wine selection, both for the table and the pot roast.

And speaking (once again) of the pot roast, the pot roast is actually a “side dish” to a potato recipe they named Potatoes Chateau Chinon (p. 292). I decided long ago to make one dish per cookbook and while these potatoes sounded good, I was more interested in the roast and so went with the side dish instead. (And by the way, isn’t making the roast a side dish creative?) But you, dear reader, are not held to my standard so knock yourselves out!

Finally, I have waxed poetic about James Villas cookbooks in previous blogs but that’s more due to his mother (and co-author), Martha Pearl Villas. That was one damned funny woman and to this day, her recipe for Coconut Cake is one of the best things I’ve ever made. You can read about her and it on my blog posting from June 27, 2007; you can also link to it by clicking on “Martha Pearl Villas” in the “Labels” section on the right-hand side of the page. Martha Pearl passed away last January and my, oh my how I wish I had met that woman! She liked to give everyone grief in the kitchen and I have no doubt that Craig and Pierre caught an earful from her on more than one occasion!

To listen to The Splendid Table discussion about Craig click:

French Pot Roast with Red-Wine Sauce – 6 to 10 servings
1 5-6 pound round beef roast
½ cup red wine vinegar
2 ¼ cups chopped onion; use 1 ½ cups to make the marinade and the remainder the next day
2 ¼ cups chopped carrots; use 1 ½ cups to make the marinade and the remainder the next day
1 ½ cups chopped celery; use 1 cup to make the marinade and the remainder the next day
2 cups chopped leeks, optional (I like leeks so used them in the marinade)
2 cloves garlic, crushed
3 sprigs parsley
1 teaspoon each of leaf sage, dried rosemary, marjoram, and coriander seeds (Note: you will need to make a cheesecloth bag of these spices)
4 to 5 cups dry red wine (or whatever is necessary to cover the roast)
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
¾ cup diced salt pork or 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
¼ cup flour
2 cups beef broth

Place the beef in a mixing bowl.

Combine the vinegar, 1 ½ cups each chopped onion and carrots, 1 cup of celery, all the leeks (2 cups), garlic and parsley in a saucepan. Tie the sage, rosemary, marjoram, and coriander seeds in a cheesecloth bag and add the bag. Bring to the boil, stirring.

Pour the vinegar mixture over the meat and add enough wine to barely cover the meat. Sprinkle with salt and pepper to taste. Cover closely and refrigerate overnight or longer, up to 3 days.

….24 hours later, after having poured your own glass of wine….

Remove the meat and pat it dry. Strain and reserve 3 cups of the liquid. Discard the remaining liquid and vegetables.

Heat the pork (or just the oil) in a heavy Dutch oven or casserole and cook, stirring, until it is rendered of fat. Scoop out and discard the solids.

Sprinkle the beef with salt and pepper. Add it to the Dutch oven or casserole and brown well on all sides. Transfer the meat to a warm place.

Add the remaining ¾ cup each of chopped onion and carrots and remaining ½ cup of celery. Cook, stirring, until onion is wilted. Sprinkle with the four and stir to blend thoroughly. Add the reserved marinade and beef broth, stirring with a wire whisk. When the mixture is thickened, add the meat. Cover closely and cook over low heat about 3 hours or until the roast is thoroughly tender.

Remove the meat and keep it warm. Cook the sauce down to the desired consistency. Slice the meat and serve with the sauce and with potatoes Chateau Chinon.

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