by Sally Fallon Morell
For Easter dinner, we traditionally serve roast beef. Normally I opt for exclusively grass-fed beef, but make an exception at Easter in order to get a roast that has plenty of fat on it.
When we are in California for Easter, visiting family, we make the trek to the wonderful Baron’s Meat and Poultry in the Alameda Market. All their meats are humanely raised, but his beef has definitely had some grain because it is encased in delicious fat. You order your rib roast in advance and they dry age it for you.
When I pick up the roast, I also purchase one ox tail and one pigs foot. These form the basis of our traditional reduction sauce for the beef and vegetables.
The sauce takes three days to make, but it is definitely worth it! Start on Good Friday by getting your stock started in a slow cooker. The next morning, strain and transfer the broth to a bowl and refrigerate. By afternoon, the stock should have firmly gelled. Remove the fat that has congealed on the top and transfer the gelled stock to a pot. Place over a low flame. Once the stock is melted, add the wine. Simmer very gently until bedtime. Turn off the flame so it is not going overnight. On Easter morning, turn the flame on very low again and simmer throughout the day.
By dinnertime, you will have a beautiful, thick, flavorful reduced sauce—the pride of any chef. And accomplished with all natural ingredients . . . not from a packet of powder loaded with MSG.
REDUCTION SAUCE FOR ROAST BEEF
Makes about 2 cups
1 ox tail
1 pig’s foot
¼ cup red wine vinegar
1 onion, peel left on, ends removed
2 carrots, peeled and chopped
2 sticks celery, chopped
1 bouquet garni (fresh thyme sprigs, parsley sprigs, bay leaf, tied together)
1 tablespoons black peppercorns
1 cup red wine
Place the pieces of ox tail in a stainless steel pan and roast in the oven, set at 400 degrees, for about ½ hour or until the pieces are well browned. Place them in a slow cooker. Deglaze the pan with a little water and pour that into the slow cooker.
Add the remaining ingredients except the wine to the slow cooker, cover everything with filtered water and turn on low. Let cook overnight.
In the morning, let the stock cool. Use a ladle to dip the stock out, pouring through a strainer into a bowl. When most of the stock is removed from the slow cooker, remove the bones and vegetables with tongs or a slotted spoon. Pour the last remaining stock through the strainer.
Place the bowl in the refrigerator. You should get a beautiful gel after a few hours. The fat will rise to the top and congeal. Remove this with a slotted spoon—it can be used for cooking or given to your dog for a real Easter treat.
Now you want to transfer the stock to a pot and a neat trick is to just slide it into the pot, leaving the dregs behind in the bowl. This is an easy way to ensure that your sauce is clear.
Melt the stock over a low flame and add the wine. Then simmer for hours. The goal is a beautiful, brown, shiny sauce that coats the spoon. If it gets too thick, add a little water to thin it; if it is not thick enough by dinnertime, turn up the heat so it reduces faster.
Transfer to a heated gravy boat and serve with the sliced roast and all the trimmings!
NOTE: Rather than remove the bones from the slow cooker after you have made the stock, you can leave them there, add water to the brim and slow-cook overnight for another batch of broth. It will not be as gelatinous as the first batch, but will still be very good for soups, stews and gravies.
The final sauce should coat the spoon.