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Perfect Pot Roast

The meat you use is important. The best is the chuck roast; it has marbling throughout the meat, and when given an ample amount of time to cook, chuck roast winds up being tender and melt-in-your-mouth delicious.

2-3 tablespoons olive oil

Kosher salt

One 3-5 pound chuck roast

2 onions

Pepper

2-2 ½ cups beef stock

3-4 fresh rosemary sprigs

2-3 fresh thyme sprigs

6-8 carrots

Preheat the oven to 275 degrees.

Heat a large pot or Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Add the olive oil and let it get really hot. While it heats, prepare the other ingredients.

Generously salt the chuck roast on both sides. Kosher salt adheres more readily to the meat.

Cut a couple of onions in half from root to tip. Then cut off the tops and bottoms and peel off the papery skin.

When the pot is very hot, place the onions in the oil and brown on both sides, about a minute per side. Remove the onions to a plate.

Thoroughly wash—but don’t peel—the carrots. Cut them roughly into 2-inch slices.

Throw the carrots into the same (very hot) pot. Toss them around until slightly brown, about a minute or so. The point here is to get a nice color started on the outside of the vegetables, not to cook them.

Remove the carrots from the pot and allow the pot to get really hot again. Add another tablespoon of oil to the pan.

Place the meat in the pot and sear it, about a minute per side. Remove to a plate.

Now, with the burner on high, deglaze the pot by adding 1 cup of the beef stock, whisking constantly. The point of deglazing is to loosen all the burned, flavorful bits from the bottom of the pot.

When most of the bits are loosened, place the meat back in the pot, followed by the carrots and onions. Pour enough beef stock into the pot to cover the meat halfway.

Next, put in the fresh rosemary and thyme sprigs. The fresh herbs absolutely make this dish. Tuck them into the juice to ensure that the flavors are distributed throughout the pot.

Cover the pot and roast for 3-5 hours, depending on the size of your roast. For a 3-pound roast, allow for 3-3 ½ hours. For a 5-pound roast, allow for a 4-5 hour cooking time. Don’t disrupt the roast during the cooking process.

When the coking time is over, check the roast for doneness; a fork should go in easily and the meat should be very tender. Remove the meat to a cutting board and slice against the grain.

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Deep Dark Stout Gingerbread

The deep caramel notes of the stout complement the spices beautifully. Serve it warm from the oven for a real treat.

Makes 12 servings

2 ½ cups all-purpose flour

2 teaspoons ground ginger

2 teaspoons ground cinnamon

1 ½ teaspoons baking powder

½ teaspoon baking soda

½ teaspoon salt

1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature

1 ¾ cups packed light brown sugar

2 large eggs plus 1 large egg yolk

1 cup unsulfured molasses

¾ cup flat stout, at room temperature

Confectioners’ sugar, for garnish

Position a rack in the center of the oven and preheat to 350 F. Lightly butter and flour the inside of a 12-cup fluted tube pan, tapping out the excess flour.

Sift the flour, ginger, cinnamon, baking powder, baking soda, and salt together into a medium bowl. In a large bowl, using a handheld electric mixer set at high speed, beat the butter until creamy, about 1 minute. Add the brown sugar and beat until the mixture is light in texture and color, about 2 minutes. One at a time, beat in the eggs, then the yolk. Beat in the molasses.

Reduce the mixer speed to low. In three additions, beat in the flour mixture, alternating with the stout, scraping down the sides of the bowl as needed, until the batter is smooth. Scrape into the prepared pan and smooth the top.

Bake until a toothpick inserted in the center of the cake comes out clean, 50 to 60 minutes. Cool in the pan on a wire rack for 10 minutes, then invert the cake onto the rack. Transfer to a serving platter, sift confectioners’ sugar over the top, and serve warm. Or cool completely and serve at room temperature. (The gingerbread can be baked up to 2 days ahead, covered tightly with plastic wrap and stored at room temperature.)

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Hazelnut Biscotti

Traditional Italian biscotti (the name means “twice cooked”) contain eggs, but no butter or oil. The result is a superior crunch that’s dry and crisp compared with the more cookie-like American versions, which include butter. These are great for dunking—in coffee, hot chocolate, or sweet dessert wine.

Makes about 34 biscotti

1 cup hazelnuts

3 large eggs

1 cup sugar

1 teaspoon baking powder

¼ teaspoon salt

½ teaspoon hazelnut flavoring

2 cups all-purpose flour

Preheat the oven to 350°F. Line a large cookie or baking sheet with parchment paper.

Place the hazelnuts in a single layer on a small baking sheet. Bake for about 8 minutes or until golden. Spill the nuts into a dish towel and rub them with the towel to remove most of their papery skin. Transfer the nuts to a cutting board and when cool enough to handle, coarsely chop.

Whisk the eggs in a large bowl. Spoon off 1 tablespoon of the beaten eggs and reserve for glazing the biscotti. To the remaining eggs in the bowl, whisk in the sugar, baking powder, salt, and hazelnut flavoring. Add the flour and stir with a wooden spoon just until combined. Stir in the hazelnuts.

Divide the dough in half using a rubber spatula and place each half lengthwise onto one side of the prepared sheet. Flour your hands and shape each sticky clump of dough into a rectangular loaf about 12 inches long and 2 inches wide. Make sure the loaves are at least 3 inches apart on the sheet. Brush the reserved beaten egg over the tops of the loaves.

Bake for about 35 minutes or until the loaves are golden brown. Transfer the sheet to a rack to cool for 10 minutes. Reduce the oven temperature to 325°F.

Peel the loaves off the parchment paper and transfer them, one at a time, to a cutting board. Using a serrated knife in a long sawing motion, cut the loaves on a slight diagonal into 1/2-inch-thick slices. Discard the parchment and place the biscotti, cut side down, on the sheet. Bake for 10 minutes. Turn the pieces over to the other cut side and bake for about 5 minutes more. Transfer the biscotti to a rack to cool.

Store in an airtight container for about 1 month; or freeze for up to 3 months. (You can perk up the biscotti by toasting them in a 350°F oven for about 5 minutes.)

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