A Holiday Feast

Published November 27, 2007, issue of November 30, 2007.
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Mark Strausman suggests these recipes when planning a Hanukkah menu. The one for Tuscan pot roast appears in Strausman’s new cookbook, “Two Meatballs in the Italian Kitchen” (Artisan Books), co-authored by Pino Luongo.

Tuscan Pot Roast
Arrosto Toscano

Serves six to eight

1 brisket (about 5-6 pounds), trimmed of excess fat
1 teaspoon kosher salt, or more to taste
1⁄2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, or more to taste
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 carrots, diced
2 celery stalks, diced
1 onion, diced 3 garlic cloves, minced
3 chicken livers, membranes removed and cut into 1⁄2-inch pieces (optional)
1 bottle dry red wine
3 cups chicken stock or low-sodium canned organic chicken broth
1 cup canned Italian plum tomatoes, preferably San Marzano, lightly crushed
1 bay leaf
3 tablespoons chopped fresh rosemary
2 tablespoons chopped fresh Italian parsley

  1. Set a rack in the middle of the oven, and preheat the oven to 325 degrees.

  2. Season the brisket with the salt and pepper. Set aside.

  3. In a 7- to 8-quart Dutch oven with a tight-fitting lid, heat the olive oil over medium-high heat. Add the brisket, and brown well on both sides, about 10 minutes. Remove to a plate, and set aside.

  4. Add the carrots, celery, onion and garlic to the pot, reduce the heat to medium, and cook, scraping up any browned bits, until all the vegetables are almost soft and the onion is golden, about five minutes. Add the chicken livers, if using, and cook, stirring, until they begin to firm, about two minutes. Add the wine, stock, tomatoes, bay leaf and rosemary, then add the brisket and any reserved juices, raise the heat to medium-high and bring to a simmer.

  5. Cover the pot, and place it in the middle of the oven. Cook, turning the meat once, until it is fork-tender, three to three-and-a-half hours.

  6. Transfer the brisket to a cutting board, and lightly cover with aluminum foil. Let stand for 15 minutes.

  7. Meanwhile, spoon off the accumulated fat from the surface of the sauce. Use an immersion blender to purée the sauce right in the pot. Or transfer to a blender or food processor to purée, and return to the pot. Season with salt and pepper, and stir in the parsley.

  8. Slice the meat, and serve with the warm sauce on the side. (Alternatively, slice the meat, return it to the pot and refrigerate overnight. Remove any solidified fat from the surface of the sauce and reheat, covered, in a 300-degree oven until piping hot.)

Winter Vegetable Roast

1 pint brussels sprouts, outer leaves removed
2 large beets, scrubbed (do not peel)
1 large butternut squash or 2 acorn squashes
1 small pumpkin
6 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
4 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut up
2 tablespoons sugar
2 pinches nutmeg

  1. Bring two pots of salted water to a boil. With the tip of a small knife, cut an “X” into the base of each brussels sprout. When the water boils, cook the beets and brussels sprouts in separate pots until fork-tender. Plunge them into ice water to stop the cooking. While the beets are still warm, peel them and cut them into 1-inch chunks.

  2. Cut brussels sprouts in half, and set aside.

  3. Meanwhile, cut the stems out of the squash and pumpkin. Peel them with a sturdy peeler or sharp paring knife. Cut in half, scoop out the seeds and cut into 1-inch chunks.

  4. Preheat the oven to 450 degrees.

  5. When all the vegetables are prepared, toss them together and spread them on cookie sheets or in earthenware baking dishes. Drizzle with olive oil, and dot with butter. Sprinkle with sugar, plenty of salt and nutmeg. Bake until tender all the way through and a little crusty.

  6. Start checking the vegetables after 30 minutes.

  7. If you want to make the vegetables crustier, raise the heat at the end of the cooking to 550 degrees. Bake until sweet and crusty, and serve immediately or at room temperature.

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