North Fork Chef: Making the most of a holiday roast

Sauteed roasted beets and carrots with dill and orange.

Roast beef and Yorkshire pudding are almost as popular at Christmas for some families as turkey is on Thanksgiving. The roast beef has a long history in England, going back to the Middle Ages. In the 18th century wheat flour came into common use and people in the north of England devised a means of using the fat that dripped from a roast beef. They placed a batter of flour and eggs under the meat and it rose to become a “Yorkshire pudding.”

Here on the North Fork, our formal holiday meal should begin with Peconic Bay scallops, our finest treasure. Winter vegetables come next. The yellow turnip, or rutabaga, has a place at the holiday table because it is a hardy root vegetable; Scandinavians make a delicious version of it called lanttulaatikko. Roasted Brussels sprouts, beets and some carrots finish the vegetable course.
The standing rib roast now appears with red wine gravy, Yorkshire pudding and a twice-baked potato. The meal ends with homemade mincemeat tarts.

Here are the recipes:

Peconic Bay Scallops
with Guacamole
Purchase 1 1/2 pounds of very fresh scallops; if possible, get the shells, too. Combine 1/2 cup lime juice; half of a jalapeno pepper, minced (without seeds); 1/2 cup minced red onion; 1 tablespoon chopped cilantro; 1 teaspoon minced garlic; 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil; 1 teaspoon coarse salt; and 1/2 teaspoon pepper. Add the scallops to this mixture and refrigerate for 2 to 4 hours.
Prepare the guacamole by peeling 3 ripe avocados, cutting them in half, removing the seeds and dicing them into half-inch cubes. Place these in a bowl with 2 tablespoons lime juice; 1/4 cup minced red onion; 1/4 cup chopped cilantro; half of a jalapeno pepper, minced; 1 teaspoon minced garlic; 1/2 teaspoon cumin; and 1/4 teaspoon coarse salt. Wash the scallop shells and line each with baby spinach. Stuff each shell with guacamole. Remove the scallops from the marinade and place them on the guacamole-stuffed shells. Garnish with a wedge of lime and a sprig of cilantro.
Serves 8.

Baked Rutabaga (Lanttulaatikko)
Peel 1 rutabaga and cut into 1-inch cubes (about 6 cups). Place these in boiling salted water and cook until tender, about 15 minutes. Drain and push through a potato ricer (or just mash). Put the mashed rutabaga into a bowl and add 1/4 cup heavy cream, 1 lightly beaten egg, 2 teaspoons coarse salt, 1 teaspoon pepper and 1/2 teaspoon grated fresh nutmeg. Fold in 2 tablespoons soft butter and 1 tablespoon honey. Mix this together and place it in a casserole dish. Sprinkle 1/2 cup of panko crumbs on top and bake at 400 degrees for 20 minutes.
Serves 8.
Roasted Brussels Sprouts
Cut the ends off of 1 quart of sprouts; cut sprouts in half if they are large. Place them in a bowl and toss with 1/2 cup pine nuts, 2 tablespoons olive oil, 1 teaspoon coarse salt and 1/2 teaspoon pepper. Line a sheet pan with foil and put it in a 400-degree oven to heat. Pour the sprouts onto the hot sheet pan and roast for 15 minutes, stirring once or twice.
In a large bowl combine 1/4 cup crumbled Gorgonzola cheese, 2 tablespoons heavy cream and 2 tablespoons lemon juice. When the sprouts are cooked, dump them into the bowl with the cheese mixture and combine.
Serves 8.

Roasted Beets
Wash 2 pounds of medium-sized beets and trim off stems. Wrap beets in two bundles of foil and place on a sheet pan. Cook beets in a 400-degree oven until tender, about 50 minutes. Cool. Remove the skins with a small knife, and cut beets into slices.
At service time, heat a sauté pan and melt 2 tablespoons butter. Add the beets along with 1/4 cup chopped fresh dill, 1 tablespoon lemon juice, 1 teaspoon coarse salt and 1/2 teaspoon pepper. Garnish with 1 orange cut into small sections. Sauté 5 minutes and serve.
Serves 8.

Roasted carrots
Peel and cut 1 pound of carrots into 3-inch sticks. Combine in a large bowl 2 tablespoons olive oil, 1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar, 1 tablespoon minced fresh rosemary, 2 teaspoons coarse salt and 1 teaspoon pepper. Add the carrots and toss together. Place on a sheet pan and cover with foil. Roast in a 400-degree oven for 15 minutes, remove the foil, stir, and continue to cook for another 15 minutes. Remove and serve.
Serves 8.

Standing Rib Roast
Purchase a bone-in trimmed rib roast. Home cooks commonly buy a partial rib roast from their butcher. A four-bone roast will weigh about 10 pounds and serve eight hungry people (an entire prime rib contains seven bones). Ask for the loin end of the rib for the leanest meat. The chuck end is very tender also, but contains more fat.
One creative way to prepare the roast is to cut the rib bones off parallel to the meat, then tie them back on before cooking. When you bring the roast to the table, you simply cut the string, remove the bones and easily slice the meat into attractive portions. The bones can then be painted with barbecue sauce and eaten separately.
After tying the roast let it sit at room temperature for 1 hour before cooking. Heat the oven to 450 degrees. Place the roast fat-side up in a roasting pan and cook for 30 minutes. Remove the pan from the oven and turn down the heat to 250 degrees. Set the roast on a plate and pour off any accumulated fat into a bowl (to save for Yorkshire pudding).
Strip the leaves from 6 sprigs of rosemary and chop finely. Mince 1/4 cup garlic and combine with the rosemary. Add 1 tablespoon coarse salt and 1 teaspoon pepper and stir into a paste. Spread this over the meat. Coarsely chop 1 Spanish onion, 2 carrots and 2 ribs of celery to make a mirepoix. Put this on the bottom of the roasting pan with 6 sprigs of fresh thyme and 1/4 cup tomato purée. Return the meat to the pan on top of the mirepoix. Put it back in the 250-degree oven and cook until the internal temperature is 120 degrees. Remove from the oven, set the meat on a platter and cover with foil. Let it rest while preparing the gravy and Yorkshire pudding.
For the gravy, place the roasting pan on the stove over low heat and stir in 1/4 cup flour, mixing it with the mirepoix. Add 1 cup red wine and stir, scraping up browned bits on the bottom of the pan. Add 1 1/2 cups beef broth and continue to stir. Strain this mixture into a saucepan and bring to a boil. Check for seasoning and leave on low heat.

Yorkshire Pudding
Combine 2 cups flour, 1 teaspoon salt and 1/2 teaspoon pepper in a bowl. In another bowl beat 4 eggs with 2 1/2 cups milk. Stir the dry ingredients into the egg mixture until it forms a batter the consistency of heavy cream (add more milk if necessary). Cover and refrigerate for 20 minutes. Heat the oven to 425 degrees and place a muffin tin with 12 3/4-cup tins in the hot oven. Add 2 teaspoons of the reserved beef drippings (see above) to each muffin tin. When hot and sizzling, fill each muffin tin two-thirds full with batter. Bake until puffed and brown, about 25 minutes. Remove and serve right away. (Note: you can skip the muffin tins and substitute a cast-iron skillet.)
Serves 8.

Twice-Baked Potato
Scrub 8 large Idaho potatoes clean and place on a small sheet pan. Bake in a 400-degree oven for 1 1/4 hours. Remove and cool slightly. Cut off the tops about one-third of the way down and scoop the insides into a bowl. Mash the potato or push through a ricer. Stir in 2 tablespoons unsalted butter, 1/2 cup sour cream, 2 tablespoons snipped chives, 2 teaspoons coarse salt, 1/2 teaspoon nutmeg and 1 teaspoon ground pepper. Refill the potato shells and reserve until service. Reheat briefly and serve.

Mincemeat Tarts
For the mincemeat, combine in a large saucepan 1 grated apple, 1/2 cup chopped dried apples, 1/2 cup dark raisins, 1/2 cup golden raisins, 1/2 cup dried currants, 1/2 cup dried cranberries, 1/2 cup candied orange peel, one small can frozen apple juice concentrate, 1/4 cup brown sugar, 1/4 cup dark rum, 1/4 cup brandy, 2 tablespoons butter, 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon, 1/4 teaspoon allspice, 1/2 teaspoon nutmeg, 1/4 teaspoon ground cloves and 1/2 teaspoon salt. Bring to a boil, then simmer for 20 minutes, uncovered, stirring frequently. Cool, transfer to a container with a lid, and refrigerate overnight.
For the pastry, place 2 1/2 cups flour, 1 teaspoon salt and 2 tablespoons sugar in a food processor. Blend and add 1 cup cold butter, cut into small pieces. Pulse until mixture resembles coarse cornmeal. Drizzle in 1/2 cup ice water and pulse until dough forms. Turn the dough out onto a floured surface and divide in half. Flatten each piece into a disk, wrap in plastic film and refrigerate 30 minutes.
Roll out the pastry until 1/8 inch thick. Cut into rounds just a little larger than a mini muffin tin. Place rounds in mini muffin tins and fill with about 1 tablespoon of mincemeat. To cover the tarts, make a lattice pattern with pastry scraps and paint with egg wash (1 egg beaten with 1 tablespoon water). Sprinkle with sugar and bake in a 400-degree oven for 20 minutes.
Serves 8.

John Ross, a chef and author, has been an active part of the North Fork food and wine community for more than 35 years. E-mail: [email protected].

The menu:
• Peconic Bay Scallops with Guacamole
• Baked Rutabaga (Lanttulaatikko)
• Roasted Brussels Sprouts
• Roasted Beets
• Standing Rib Roast
• Yorkshire Pudding
• Twice-Baked Potato
• Mincemeat Tarts