This week's recipe is from our January Top Pick in cookbooks, Bold: A Cookbook of Big Flavors by Susanna Hoffman and Victoria Wise. Their "Napa Valley Pot Roast with Leeks and Chardonnay" is just the kind of hearty, simple dish that can be added to your weekly repertoire. But be warned: this recipe may lead to some California dreamin' at the dinner table.
Napa Valley Post Roast with Leeks and Chardonnay
Serves 4 or 5
- Kosher or fine sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
- 2 ½ pounds flat-iron or cross rib roast (English roll)
- 2 tablespoons butter
- 1 cup chardonnay
- 1 yellow or white onion, coarsely chopped
- 4 carrots, 1 coarsely chopped and 3 cut into ½-inch-thick ovals
- 2 medium-sized tomatoes, chopped, or 1 cup canned crushed tomatoes
- 4 fresh thyme sprigs
- 4 fresh parsley sprigs
- Leaves from 1 rib celery
- 1 cup low-sodium chicken broth
- 4 inner ribs celery, trimmed and cut into 2-inch lengths
- 3 small leeks, white and light green parts only, well rinsed and sliced into ¾-inch-thick rounds
- 1 teaspoon mustard seeds
A journey through California's Napa Valley is a trek both sensory and surprising. A unique combination of earth movements, volcanoes and erosion led to a hill-surrounded vale that is alternately rain-catching and sun-hot, ideal for gardens, orchards and, most of all, grapes. Everywhere there are vineyards. As you wend up the roads, your eyes take in rows of staked vines stretching to the hilltops, reaching into gullies, lining river plains. More than 250 wineries and their tracts of vines divide the valley floor into a patchwork quilt of geographic beauty. At each tasting room stop, your palate meets wine from the valley’s two ruling grape varietals: red cabernet sauvignon, the queen of hearts and white chardonnay, the queen of diamonds. Customarily, the queen of hearts would assert her command over a beef pot roast, but the cuisine of Napa Valley is as strikingly distinct as its landscape. A Napa Valley pot roast simmered in chardonnay gives the diamond queen her due as she lends a crisp and sultry dash to the simmering sauce that sparkles around the meat and vegetables.
1. Generously salt and pepper the meat on both sides. Melt the butter in a large Dutch oven or stew pot over medium-high heat. Add the meat and brown lightly on both sides, 5 to 6 minutes altogether. Add the wine to the pot, then the onion, chopped carrot and tomatoes, along with the thyme, parsley and celery leaves, and stir to mix. Pour in the broth and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to maintain a gentle simmer, cover the pot and cook until the meat is fork-tender, about 2 ½ hours.
2. Transfer the meat to a plate and set aside in a warm place. Strain the liquid through a fine-mesh sieve into a bowl and discard the solids. Let the liquid rest for a few minutes for the fat to rise to the top.
3. Skim and discard the fat from the liquid, return the liquid to the pot and bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Add the celery ribs, leeks, sliced carrots and mustard seeds and cook until the vegetables are just tender, about 20 minutes.
4.To serve, carve the meat into ¼ to ½-inch-thick slices and arrange them on a serving platter. Pour the juices from the meat plate into the pot with the vegetables and stir gently to mix. Spoon the vegetables and liquid around the meat and serve right away.
Tip: Flat-Iron Pot Roast, A Cut Above. Flat-iron roast used to be readily available in American markets. Every Yankee grandmother and every Jewish mother knew how to get one, namely, from the local butcher. The flat-iron cut, aka blade chuck, top blade, and top chuck, is taken from the top blade (bone) side of a thickly cut beef chuck shoulder roast. It’s prized for pot roasting because when simmered in a casserole it cooks up as tender as a tenderloin steak. There are still butchers who can cut a flat-iron for that special pot-roast occasion if you call ahead. Without such a possibility, substitute a cross rib roast (English roll).