Happy birthday, Liza Minnelli! The famed actress, singer and dancer turns 68 today. The daughter of the legendary Judy Garland and director Vincente Minnelli, Liza has spent her entire life in the spotlight. Most recently, the Cabaret star made headlines when host Ellen DeGeneres used Minnelli as the butt of an “off-color” joke during this year’s Oscars ceremony. “Hello to the best Liza Minnelli impersonator I’ve ever seen,” the openly gay talk-show host quipped. “Good job, sir.”
It’s a well-known fact that Minnelli’s vibrant personality and many over-the-top roles have earned her the admiration—and flattery via imitation—of many drag performers and female impersonators. Social media platforms practically exploded following the playful jab, with many accusing Ellen of transphobia and lack of respect for those struggling with discrimination. Minnelli, whose sense of humor has always trumped her desire to appear “proper,” took no offense to the comment.
For an endearing example of the actress’ candor, check out her June 1970 interview with The Palm Beach Post. Written in the wake of her Academy Award nomination for The Sterile Cuckoo and two years prior to her famous portrayal of Sally Bowles (which earned her not just a nom, but a win), the article gives you a peek into Minnelli’s lesser-known domestic side.
“My mother taught me to cook,” Liza shared. “She used to love to cook. She cooked everything from shepard’s pie to chocolate soufflé and big pot roasts…Every meal in our house was memorable, especially when Mamma cooked. It looked like a cyclone hit the kitchen, but, boy, did it taste good!” When it comes to which sex belongs in the kitchen, however, Liza held it was men who made better chefs: “Men are more courageous, but I think men are better in every respect than women.” Err, we hope that’s an Ellen-esque joke that got lost in translation to print.
Regardless of Liza’s current and past beliefs on the matter, according to her guests, the actress isn’t too shabby a chef herself. “I love Hungarian spices very much and Yugoslavian food. I know it sounds strange, but I love thyme and rosemary on meats. And dill in salads is great. I love savory foods! I love comfort foods…baked potatoes with sour cream, pepper and butter or cream cheese on rye toast…[a] hamburger with a lot of junk on it…” Minelli divulged to the Post.
We couldn’t agree more. And with spring just around the corner, it’s time to get in the last of our favorite savory winter meals before making the switch to salad. So, tonight, in honor of Ms. Minnelli’s birthday, give one of her favorite comfort foods a shot. Stick with the original recipe or customize it to your liking. We won’t judge.
Liza’s Pot Roast With Brussels Sprouts
4 slices lean bacon
3 pounds boneless beef rump (bottom round or chuck) larded
Veal knuckle, cracked
2 tablespoons butter
1 1/2 cups dry vermouth
About 1/2 cup liquid (water or beef broth)
Bouquet garni (1/2 teaspoon thyme, 1/2 teaspoon sage, 3/4 teaspoon basil, large pinch rosemary, 10 cracked peppercorns, 2 sprigs parsley wrapped and tied in cheesecloth)
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
2 carrots, chopped
1 clove mashed garlic
Large shallot, peeled and chopped
12 new potatoes, scrubbed, cut with thin band around the center
1 quart Brussels sprouts (trimmed, precooked 6 minutes until barely tender in boiling salted water)
1 tablespoon arrowroot (or cornstarch)
More liquid as needed
1. Brown bacon in large Dutch oven. Season roast on all sides with salt and pepper. Lift out bacon, brown roast quickly on all sides. Lift out roast; pour off browned fat. Add butter; brown veal knuckle quickly on all sides. Return beef to the pot.
2. Add vermouth, liquid, bouquet garni, salt, carrot, garlic and shallot. Bring to boil. Cover (there should be enough liquid to reach halfway up the side of the met). Simmer about three hours. Strain stock with cheesecloth, discarding vegetables, bouquet garni, and veal knuckle. Strain off excess fat.
3. Add potatoes, cover, cook about 20 minutes (or until tender). During the last few minutes, add partially-cooked Brussels sprouts. Remove roast to heated platter. Surround with border of potatoes and Brussels sprouts. Thicken gravy with arrowroot (or cornstarch) mixed with a little cold water.
4. Stir gravy over medium heat until smooth and thick, correct seasonings. Spoon gravy over meat and vegetables. Garnish vegetables liberally with freshly ground pepper. Serves six generously.
Afterthoughts: Herbs can be changed to suit the cook. Liza often serves her pot roast with hot wild rice.