RECIPE OF THE WEEK: Roasts of All Kinds

Let's roast giant pieces of meat.
Claire Lower
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Let's roast giant pieces of meat.

Greetings, friends! Welcome to yet another crispy and crunchy installment of Recipe of the Week! Last week we were gabbing about the best part of Thanksgiving: the side dishes.

As usual, everyone did a bang-up job, but the winner was a cheesy, squashy casserole from Heina Dadabhoy, which was also accompanied with a very nice story:

My Indian family's Thanksgiving story is a fun one, so I'll share it. My parents' generation are immigrants with a bias against traditional American food, which they assume is wholly "bland" and "dry" because it's not spicy and/or covered in curry. We "kids" (as in the first generation of Americans born here) got sick of the same old biryani-curry-etc. dinner that we ended up having with our parents on Thanksgiving (we'd get together that day anyway since everyone was off school and work), so when we were old enough, decided to do a kids' Thanksgiving in traditional American style, no parents requiring curry allowed. We had so much fun and the leftovers were so good that our parents eventually begged us to be allowed to come to our Thanksgiving, and we said yes, with one caveat: No Desi/Indian food. Not even one dish.  

We remind them of this every year.For the past few years, I've been taking this fairly simple yet tasty cheesy squash bake to Thanksgiving. It's a nice relief from the starchier side dishes yet is creamy and decadent. I usually have enough to feed my giant family with leftovers (I LOVE THESE LEFTOVERS ESPECIALLY A LOT). I adapted it from this blog post: http://blog.stuffimakemyhusban...

~Cheesy Squash with Toasted Pine Nuts~

 2 medium-sized spaghetti squashes (about 2 lbs. each)
2 tbsp unsalted butter
1 head garlic, prepared
3 tbsp minced sage
1 1/2 cup whole milk ricotta
6 tbsp grated Parmesan cheese
Salt and pepper to taste  

6 oz pine nuts
2 tbsp olive oil
sea salt

- Cut the spaghetti squashes in half lengthwise, scoop out the seeds, and microwave on high for 6-8 minutes. Shred the flesh with a fork and then scoop it out with a big spoon into a casserole dish.
- Heat the butter over medium heat until nut brown. Add the garlic and sage leaves, saute until garlic is straw-colored, then add to the squash.
- Add the ricotta, salt, and pepper to the squash. Smooth out the top.
- Sprinkle the top evenly with a layer of Parmesan and broil until the top is brown in spots. Sprinkle with pine nuts and serve hot.

- For the pine nuts: Spread the nuts on the baking sheet that came with the toaster oven (or a baking sheet in a regular oven). Drizzle evenly with olive oil and sea salt and bake at 325°F, stirring frequently, until golden-brown, 3 to 5 minutes.

Spaghetti squash is actually my favorite squash; I really enjoy the tactile experience of shredding it up, and it's really good with cheese. This recipe let me enjoy both of those things.

Hello, I love you.

Hello, I love you.

Broiled cheese, man. Is there anything more divine?

I go nuts for pine nuts.

I go nuts for pine nuts.

I gotta say that this dish has everything you would want in a Thanksgiving side. It's a casserole. It's beige. It's cheesy. It's squash. It has sage. Seriously, all the boxes are checked. Big thumbs up to Heina Dadabhoy for sharing it with us. Her trophy is "Man on the Moon" by R.E.M. because I just watched a documentary about them last night and our very own Jane Pratt was in it ("That's my boss!" I yelled at my father) and I just really enjoy very American aesthetic of it all. (It's as American as Thanksgiving or something!)

Once you're finished grooving to this song about Andy Kaufman, let's talk about your next topic: roasts. 

Look at that piece of meat.

Look at that piece of meat.

A large roasted piece of meat is one of the homiest main courses you can make, and it's something the British seem to do very well. (I'm always ogling pics of Natalie's Sunday roasts.) Roast chicken, pork roast, pot roast, all of these things long to be surrounded by crispy potatoes and caramelized carrots.

My grandmother used to make a pot roast that I could not get enough of. It was savory, tender and not at all dry, and served with a gravy that gave me such life. I assumed it was some sort of "family recipe" but it was just condensed soup and garlic powder. What a world. 

Anyway. What I want from you is your favorite roasted recipe. Besides my grandmother's deceptively simple pot roast, my favorite has got to be that time I cooked a whole brisket for a Hanukkah party. (Warning: the linked recipe contains some very manic writing and was basically just a whole bunch of stuff thrown into a pan, but it came out very tasty.) 

So sock it to me! Give me your roasted pork butts, beef cuts, and whole birds. If you're vegetarian and know of a good "field roast" or something, feel free to share that too!