Save the Vegetables! Try this easy contorno next time you roast meat.
The way I roast, aromatic vegetables fill the pan to lend flavor to the meat during their hours together in the oven. Later, the vegetables are usually mashed and sieved to extract their juices, flavor, and rich pulp for the sauce. I sometimes hate to lose these sweet vegetables—if you’ve tasted a carrot or onion wedge that’s roasted with turkey or pork shoulder, you know what I mean. So I suggest you split the goods and use some to make sauce and save the rest as contorno, or a side dish.
You can do the same with most roasting recipes, just follow these guidelines:
• Increase the amount of sturdy root vegetables (or add them) such as carrots, parsnips, whole shallots, and rutabagas, as well as celery. Cut 3- or 4-inch long wedges, evenly thick, at least 1/2-wide, or thicker if they must roast a long time. Short wedges cook through, look good, won’t break and caramelize on the edges, too.
• Cut onions in wedges but trim them so the layers remain attached at the root end and they don’t fall apart.
• Cook leeks whole, using leeks of medium thickness (1-1/2 inches). Trim off tough leaves, wash thoroughly, trim the hair-like roots, but leave the root base that holds the leaves together. Do not cut the leek crosswise; split the leaves—but not the root end—lengthwise. When serving, slice off the root and cut into short lengths.
• Use big, thick celery stalks. Peel to remove tough skin. Cut celery sticks about 1-inch wide so they don’t fall apart.
• Caramelize the vegetables in the roasting pan after pouring out the pan juices for sauce. Roast them with the meat or by themselves. Vegetables usually need more dry roasting than the meat because they have been covered in liquid. Speed caramelization by raising the heat or the level of the roasting pan in the oven.