JEFF TIEDEMAN: Beyond the birdRoasts find their way to more holiday tables.
Nothing says tradition more than food. And you have to look no further than the holidays for evidence of that.
What that food is, though, mostly depends on the culture that you were raised in or your ethnicity.
While turkey is unarguably the traditional centerpiece of most Thanksgiving celebrations in this country, the mainstay for most other holidays —such as those that fall from the beginning of December through New Year’s Day — is quite varied.
But without a doubt, some type of roast ranks near the top of the list of many people.
For example, two of my friends — Lillian Elsinga and Boyd Wright — dazzled their guests Christmas Day with a prime rib roast, which has been a standby of theirs for several years. Another couple I know — Bobbi and Chris DuChamp —plan to treat their immediate family with the same cut of meat on New Year’s Eve.
And I know Mike Pokrzywinski celebrated in a like manner, since he posted a beautiful picture on Facebook page of the crown pork roast he made over the Christmas holidays.
Another type of roast, the beef brisket, is a traditional Hanukkah showpiece of many Jewish families across the U.S. and the world.
Generally, we feast Christmas Day on the same meat we have Thanksgiving (turkey). But this year, Therese talked me into fixing a roast.
And I’m sure glad she did. The elk roast we shared with my grandson, Rakeem, his mom and my mom couldn’t have been finer. (One of the reasons I was OK with this was that growing up, we had a delicious roast pork or roast beef just about every other Sunday.)
In the past, whenever I’d fixed an elk or venison roast, it usually went in the oven frozen, along with some potatoes, carrots and onion, and cooked at 275 degrees for about three to four hours.
This time, I decided to try something new. I thawed the elk — three pieces, about 1 to 1½ pounds each — and browned it in butter in a cast-iron frying pan, just like my mom and grandma traditionally did with their roasts. (Mom and Grandma Menard always said this made the best gravy.)
After deglazing the pan with some cooking sherry, I placed the elk in a Dutch oven with an onion, the deglazing liquid and a little additional water. (We had carrots, mashed potatoes and bread dressing on the side.) I then cooked the meat at 325 degrees for about 2½ hours before taking it out and letting it stand for about five minutes before cutting .
I learned a couple of things from fixing a roast this way. Not only is the meat more tender, the browning seals in the juices.
But most important, the gravy is so much better when you brown the roast. In fact, both my mom and Therese complimented me on mine.
My grandma would have been proud of me.
Tiedeman is food editor at the Herald. Reach him at (701) 780-1136 or toll-free at (800) 477-6572, or e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.