A Wintery Dinner Inspired by Lucy and Desi
Butter lettuce, pickled shallots, pistachios, and cherry tomato salad
Parisian pot roast, or Daube, or Étouffée, anyway it involves a chuck roast or a brisket and a lot of braising
A crusty baguette
A champagne coupe filled with berries and a splash of liquor – Chantilly creme optional
Salad: the pickled shallots are what makes it piquant… Thinly slice one shallot and place in bowl. Sprinkle liberally with salt, a pinch of sugar, and squeeze a quarter of lemon over the sliced shallot and let sit at least ten minutes, that’s a quick pickle. Tear apart a head of butter lettuce and slice the cherry tomatoes in half. Toss with pickled shallots, a small handful of pistachios, and dress with a simple vinaigrette – three parts olive oil, one part white wine vinegar (or lemon or lime juice), salt, pepper, and if you have some fresh tarragon or thyme chop it up and throw it in.
Parisian Pot Roast: First fry up two pieces of bacon in a big heavy pot until crisp and set aside. Brown a 3 to 5 pound piece of chuck roast or brisket in the bacon drippings, set aside. Chop an onion, and sautée in the bacon fat, to get a really rich flavor caramelize the onions – here’s how: turn down the flame and keep stirring the onions around for about 20 minutes (it really does take that long) until they are caramel colored and sticky. Something about this method sweetens and deepens the flavor of the onion which makes the entire dish sing. Rough chop six to eight carrots and add to pot with caramelized onions. Crumble bacon and add to pot. Put the brisket back in, and add six potatoes that you’ve cut in half. Throw in two cloves of garlic and a shot of cognac. Add a couple sprigs of fresh thyme or marjoram. Pour in enough beef stock to cover the contents of the pot. Cook for about three hours covered on a low flame on the stove top, or in a slow oven, 275-degrees, until the meat is tender.
Baguette: I have tried to make a crusty french loaf with no success – for god’s sake – just buy it!
Berries and Chantilly Creme: Mix what ever looks best from the market, raspberries, strawberries, blueberries… You can also use chopped ripe melon, pear, sliced dried apricots… Place in stemmed champagne coups (or martini glasses). Splash the fruit with dessert wine like Tokaji (you can get a nice bottle for about $15 and it tastes like nectar) or a liqueur like St. Germain (about 40 bucks). Top with a softly whipped cream (Chantilly Creme) if desired.