When it comes to food, nothing speaks more of the Christmas celebration than roast beef with a big, fat cab! As the Good King Wenceslas carol says: “Bring me flesh and bring me wine, bring me pine logs hither.” Enjoy this interesting twist on a fine roast beef with yet another proof that we can produce award-winning Cabernet Sauvignon in Santa Barbara County.

Top Block Sirloin Roast with Fennel and Coriander

Note: This recipe requires refrigerating the salted meat for at least 24 hours before cooking.

One 5- to 6-lb. boneless top block (sirloin) center-cut roast

2 Tbsp. salt

4 tsp. plus 1/4 c. olive oil

4 garlic cloves, minced

6 anchovy fillets, rinsed and patted dry

2 tsp. ground fennel

2 tsp. ground coriander

2 tsp. paprika

1 tsp. dried oregano

1 tsp. pepper

Coarse sea salt

Cut roast lengthwise along grain into 2 equal pieces. Rub 1 tablespoon sea salt over each piece. Transfer to large plate and refrigerate, uncovered, for at least 24 hours or up to 4 days.

Adjust oven rack to middle position and heat oven to 225 degrees. Heat 2 teaspoons oil in 12-inch skillet over high heat until just smoking. Brown 1 roast on all sides, 6 to 8 minutes. Return browned roast to plate. Repeat with 2 teaspoons oil and remaining roast. Let cool for 10 minutes.

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While roasts cool, process garlic, anchovies, fennel, coriander, paprika, oregano, and remaining 1/4 cup oil in food processor until smooth paste forms, about 30 seconds, scraping down sides of bowl as needed. Add pepper and pulse to combine, 2 to 3 pulses.

Using 5 pieces of kitchen twine per roast, tie each roast crosswise at equal intervals into loaf shape. Transfer roasts to wire rack set in rimmed baking sheet and rub roasts evenly with paste.

Roast until meat registers 125 degrees for medium-rare or 130 degrees for medium, 2 to 2 1/4 hours. Remove roasts from oven, leaving on wire rack, and tent loosely with aluminum foil; let rest for at least 30 minutes or up to 40 minutes.

Heat oven to 500 degrees. Remove foil from roasts and cut and discard twine. Return roasts to oven and cook until exteriors of roasts are well browned, 6 to 8 minutes.

Transfer roasts to carving board. Slice meat 1/4-inch thick. Season with sea salt to taste, and serve.

Pair this with Lucas & Lewellen’s 2012 Cote del Sol. The grapes for this reserve-level cabernet are hand-harvested from the south-facing side of the vines only, which grow on a narrow, 22-row slope on their Valley View Vineyard. Co-fermented with 8% syrah from the same vineyard, this blend adds a spicy, jammy note to the new French-oak infused wine.

This is a big, dark, refined cabernet with flavors of brown spices, black cherry, lavender, dried sage and anise, layered with toasty vanilla and oak. The finish is long, with just the right amount of tannins. A firm structure suggests a long life for this age worthy vintage.

Enjoy!

John David Finley is a freelance writer and author of the cookbook, "Sacred Meals from our Family Table," which features Santa Barbara County wines. He can be reached sacredmeals@comcast.net.

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