I smiled at that thought, the feeling of excitement barely contained as I surveyed the still-bare garden after the crush of winter. I have been feeling the mamas’ bellies, covered in fur and their long skirts. They protrude in varying degrees of roundness. “Like furry blueberries” I laugh to myself. Just earlier today I felt a baby kick. Well, I think it was a baby. There are four stomachs after all, and a lot going on in there.
My thoughts turn back to the task at hand. I am pleasantly surprised to see a few herbs flourishing and pick some thyme and rosemary for a yak pot roast.
I have never been a huge fan of pot roast, or even knew what the fuss was about. But after making this dish, I can safely say that there are few things as comforting as food like this. I love meats long braised in rich sauces with aromatics and veggies. That’s what this is, with a slight twist on the classic. I used preserved lemons I made last year. It adds another layer of intrigue to the dish that would otherwise be more straightforward. You can substitute fresh lemon if you wish. Chimayo pepper is my favorite. You can use whatever other chilis that you have on hand, knowing that the flavor profile will change, and probably be delicious.
I’m a big fan of using what I have in the kitchen. I also love cooking with the seasons, and go out of my way to get wonderful veggies from local farmers. Our friends at Whistling Duck Farm grow such gorgeous and delicious foods. We feel so fortunate to cook with these splendid ingredients, support our local food system and eat healthy foods from healthy soil.
EARLY SPRING YAK POT ROAST
- 1 large (4 to 5 lb) yak cross rib roast, neck, shoulder, chuck or leg roast
- 1 large leek, thinly sliced
- 4 cups shallots, thinly sliced
- 12-15 garlic cloves, peeled, whole
- 1 Tbsp ground black pepper
- 3 Tbsp chimayo pepper (substitute sweet paprika or other chilis, perhaps lowering the amount)
- 2 stalks leafy celery, diced
- 2 large carrots, cut into large chunks (or 4-5 baby carrots left whole)
- 1 preserved lemon (or substitute fresh lemon)
- 1 handful sprigs of thyme and rosemary (or whatever herbs you like)
- Splash of red wine (could be great with white wine)
- One quart yak stock or chicken stock (homemade is best, but whatever)
- Salt and pepper to taste (I like to add more salt after it has cooked down and the flavors have melded to avoid oversalting)
- ¼ cup butter
- A few lugs olive oil
I used a large dutch oven on the stove top, but you can use a large cast iron or pot in the oven if you prefer. In that case, monitor for the liquid being reduced and add more as needed.
Saute the leek and shallots in a cast iron pan with the butter and some olive oil. Add the chimayo pepper, black pepper and celery. Cook until it begins to caramelize, lowering heat to avoid browning. Set aside.
Heat a large dutch oven with oil. Lightly salt the yak roast and brown all sides until golden and caramelized. Adjust heat to avoid burning. Add the spiced leeks and shallots to the pot. Add the chicken broth, garlic cloves, preserved lemon, carrots, and sprigs of herbs. Give a splash of wine and cook on low heat for 3 to 4 hours, or until the meat is tender. Remove the roast from the pot. Slice across the grain and return to the pot to soak up the juices.
It’s great served on mashed potatoes, rice, pasta, polenta, or whatever you are in the mood for. Garnish with parsley, chervil or romano cheese.
Enjoy your spring and until next time, stay healthy out there friends!