If the wine sits in your pantry for more than a few days, the oxidation process may change the flavor, and you won't want to cook with it. Unused wine can also be frozen with good results, and is nice to have on hand if you want to spruce up a dish.
I'll share more of Mary's recipes next month. Her Morrocan chicken with preserved lemons and olives is a great dinner party entree. The last time I served Morrocan chicken, a foodie friend dubbed it "the Best Chicken Dish Ever."
Italian porcini pot roast
- 1/2 ounce dried porcini mushrooms
- 1 cup beef or chicken broth
- olive oil, a few Tbsp. for sauteeing
- 1 4 pound boneless beef chuck roast, trimmed of fat
- 1 large onion, chopped
- 2 celery stalks, cut into 1/2 inch slices
- 4 garlic cloves, minced through a garlic press, or chopped fine
- 1 Tbsp. fresh rosemary, marjoram, or thyme, or a combination of herbs, finely chopped
- 1 28 oz. can whole peeled tomatoes, preferably San Marzano
- 1 cup dry red wine
- coarse salt and pepper
- Preheat oven to 300 degrees F, or get out the slow cooker.
- Bring broth to a simmer in a saucepan. Remove from the heat, add the dried mushrooms and cover. Let "steep" until soft, about 20 minutes, then pour over a fine sieve to separate the mushrooms from the broth.
- Chop the mushrooms coarsely, and set aside with the broth.
- Sprinkle the beef with coarse salt and pepper.
- Heat oil in a large, ovenproof pot over medium-high heat. Add the beef and brown on all sides. To properly "sear" the meat, let the roast brown without moving it around. Once it is obviously browned, flip it to another side. If you turn the meat too early, it may stick to the pan.
- Transfer the roast to a plate. Pour off all but 1 Tbsp. of drippings from the pan, and then saute the onion and celery in the same pan on medium heat. Sprinkle with salt and pepper, and cook until beginning to brown, about 8 minutes.
- Add garlic, herbs, and the porcini mushrooms. Saute for 1 minute or so.
- Using your hands, crush the tomatoes, one at a time, into the pot. You could also use an immersion blender for this, but you don't want the tomatoes overly pureed; leave them a bit chunky.
- Cook the tomatoes with the onion mixture for about 3 minutes, making sure to scrape the bottom of the pan to incorporate the brown bits from braising the meat.
- Add red wine; boil 5 minutes.
- Have a glass of your inexpensive crianza while you wait and stir the pot.
- Add reserved broth (from steeping the porcini); boil another 5 minutes.
- If using a slow cooker, transfer the roast now and pour in all the accumulated juices. Pour the sauce over, flip the roast over a few times and cover. Cook on low for 4-6 hours.
- If braising in the oven, return the roast and any juices back to the pot. Cover and bake for 1 1/2 hours in the preheated oven. Turn the roast over, and then bake another 1 1/2 hours.
- Once the roast is done, transfer the meat to a plate and tent with foil. Spoon off any fat from the surface of the pot. Bring the "Italian gravy" to a boil on the stovetop, and reduce for about 10 minutes. Taste. Season with salt and pepper as needed.
- You can now slice the roast, and serve with the sauce spooned over. Or you can serve the roast family style, and pull it apart into chunks with a big fork. We tend to favor the hacking-away-with-a-fork method, but slicing would make for a prettier presentation.
- Serve with polenta, or garlic mashed potatoes. Garnish with fresh herbs if you like.
Creamy Parmesan Polenta
This is Mary Woollen's recipe, modified slightly. Thanks Mary! She adds a tablespoon of minced fresh tarragon to the polenta, which gives it a unique flavor, but rosemary or thyme would also be nice. I have omitted the herbs here, since there are plenty in the pot roast.
This yields 10 small portions, or 6 larger ones. Even if you aren't feeding a crowd, make the whole batch; leftover polenta is wonderful to have stashed in the fridge. I like to fry up a few wedges in olive oil and eat alongside scrambled eggs with a sliced tomato. As an appetizer, top fried wedges with gorgonzola cheese and steamed broccoli spears; or chopped tomatoes, basil and garlic; or an olive tapenade.
- 3 Tbsp. olive oil
- 1/2 cup finely chopped onion
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 2 1/2 cups water
- 2 1/2 cups milk
- 2 tsp. kosher or coarse salt
- 1 1/3 cup cornmeal, coarsely ground (such as Bob's Red Mill brand)
- 1/2 cup Parmesan cheese, grated
- 2 Tbsp. white truffle oil, for drizzling (optional)
- Saute the onions and garlic in a heavy medium sized saucepan with the olive oil.
- When translucent, add milk and water. Bring to a boil.
- Add 2 tsp. salt.
- Gradually add the cornmeal and boil rapidly for 5 minutes, stirring constantly.
- Cover the pot, and place it in a 350 degree oven. Or, transfer it to a ceramic 8" x 8" pan and cover with foil. Bake 30 minutes.
- Sprinkle with grated Parmesan cheese, and drizzle with truffle oil.