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Wednesday, June 18, 2008

is it summer in atlanta or winter in northern italy?

braised roast and artichoke risotto

This is what I made for dinner last night: roast beef braised in red wine and artichoke risotto. Makes perfect sense for a 93 degree day in Atlanta...?? Let me explain. Last week I was in Sri Lanka (yes, I sandbag my blog posts sometimes), and although the food was delicious, I missed red meat, my beloved Italian food, and most of all, COOKING. So I figured I would make a few favorites for dinner last night, not caring if I heated up the oven (and the rest of the loft) for 3 hours roasting meat, or having to stand over a boiling pot stirring chicken broth constantly for 45 minutes. And I'm so glad I did.

Grocery list: (for the roast) 2-4 pounds roast (I used a 2 pound local eye of round roast), 1-2 vidalia onions, handful peeled garlic cloves, some carrots, rosemary, sage or bay leaves, beef stock, 1 bottle red wine; (for the risotto) 2 cups arborio rice, 1 quart chicken stock, 1/2 to 1 jar marinated artichokes, parmesan cheese, butter, olive oil, white wine (1/2 - 1 cup), 2 cloves garlic, 1 small white onion finely chopped, 1 lemon.

searing roast beef

This whole dinner started with an incident at the meat counter at WF. I was standing there waiting for another cut of meat I ordered, when I noticed this pile of different types of roasts from a local butcher. One of them, an eye of round roast, seemed to be looking at me directly, saying "cook me, cook me!". True story. So I asked the butcher to tie him up, although I've never cooked this cut of meat before. After a little googling, I found this great recipe from Lidia's Italy on Epicurious. I actually had a bottle of Barolo in my wine cellar (AKA bathroom closet), but it was too expensive to cook with so I went with a Shiraz. Making this Italian-Australian roast beef. Anyway, start by seasoning the meat on all sides with salt and pepper, then sear it in a dutch oven over med-high heat in olive oil.

vegetables for roast beef

Once the meat has been seared on all sides (about 1 minute per side), remove it from the pan, add a little more olive oil, then cook the vegetables. I used 2 small vidalia onions, quartered, and half a bag of baby carrots, plus 6-8 whole garlic cloves. The original recipe calls for celery too, but I skipped it. After a few minutes, add a whole sprig of rosemary and a couple of sage or bay leaves. Make a little space for the roast and return it to the pan.

braising beef in wine

Pour in a bottle of wine, and then add beef stock (1-2 cups), enough to go up the sides of the roast about halfway. Heat on the stove until the liquid is steaming but not boiling, then move to an oven and roast at 250 degrees. Every 30 minutes, flip the roast over. For a 2 pound roast, you could cook this for 2-2 1/2 hours; for a larger 4-6 pound roast, the recipe says you can cook for 4 - 4 1/2 hours. A meat thermometer would really help here (I don't have one and ended up overcooking the meat a bit).

frying rice for risotto

During the last 30 minute rotation for the roasting meat, I made the risotto. I make these fairly often actually and have never followed a recipe. Last night I wanted something with a salty kick to go with the meat - something with olives or lemons maybe. When I saw the recipe for lemon and artichoke risotto from Jamie Oliver's cookbook, I knew it would be perfect. As with all risottos, you start by sauteing the onion and garlic in olive oil until softened.

risotto with parmesan

Next, add 2 cups arborio rice and stir to coat the rice with the olive oil. Turn the heat up to med-high and keep stirring. The rice will start to fry and turn slightly translucent - that's when you add about a glass of white wine (1/2 - 1 cup). While this is absorbing, heat the chicken stock so it's hot but not boiling. Add a ladle of the stock at a time to the rice, stirring frequently. Allow the stock to absorb before adding the next ladleful. When you've added it all, the rice should be a smooth creamy texture (takes 15-20 minutes). Turn off the heat and add 2-4 T butter and about 1/2 cup of grated parmesan. Cover and let stand for a couple of minutes. Then stir, season with salt and pepper, and add the zest and juice of 1 lemon and some chopped artichokes. Jamie's recipe calls for cooking fresh artichokes during the rice-cooking phase, but I didn't miss cooking *that* much - I went with a nice jar of marinated artichokes from the farmers market.

wine braised beef

When the roast is as done as you like it, remove it from the oven and set to rest on a cutting board. Scoop out the vegetables and place on a long serving dish. Move the pan on the stove and heat the braising liquid till boiling - keep cooking it till it is reduced to a syrupy consistency. Slice the roast beef on the diagonal and lay on top of the vegetables; spoon the sauce over top.

1 comment:

auburnmarshes said...

Wow, looks delicious! FYI I'm very pleased with my meat thermometer(http://www.cooking.com/products/shprodde.asp?SKU=125628). Inspired by an Alton Brown episode...