Christmas Roasts

Christmas Roasts with Crisps

4 or more tablespoons oil or butter for searing meat

5 pounds beef roast tied with butcher’s cord

1/2 cup flour

1 teaspoon cinnamon

1 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon dried sweet basil, crushed

1/2 teaspoon dried rosemary, crushed

1/4 teaspoon thyme

1 cup dates, pits removed, cut in halves

1 cup dried figs, stems removed, cut in strips

1/2 cup dried apple rings, cut in halves

2 tablespoons brown sugar or honey

1-1/2 cups beef stock


1 cup flour

1 egg

2/3 cup milk

1/4 teaspoon salt

1/2 scant teaspoon baking powder

1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley, crushed

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In Dutch oven with a tight cover, melt the butter. Dredge the roast with the mixture of flour, cinnamon and salt, and thoroughly sear in the heated butter, browning all sides.

Mix basil, rosemary and thyme. Mix spices with combined dates, figs and apples.

Arrange spiced fruits around the meat. Sprinkle sugar or drizzle honey on fruits. Carefully pour beef stock around edges of pot so as to avoid “flooding” any food surfaces. Cover tightly. Bake at 350 degrees for 3 hours, or until tender. Remove from oven to cool for 30 minutes. Increase oven heat to 450 degrees.

Prepare a very thick batter by vigorously stirring together all batter ingredients except parsley. Add extra flour if necessary. Add chopped parsley to the batter.

Pour batter over roast, allowing excess to trickle into gravy. Return meat to hot oven (at 450 degrees) for 5 to 10 minutes so that coating browns nicely.

Cut the roast in its dough “jacket” (somewhat reminiscent of the modern Beef Wellington). Serve the “crisps” of dough, which formed in the juices, along with the gravy and fruit. Serves 6 to 8. – Madeleine Pelner Cosman, “Fabulous Feasts: Medieval Cookery and Ceremony

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