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Wednesday, November 21, 2012

The Perfect Roast

It's been quiet around here, I know. I have been sewing away on some bowties and suspenders for Holiday Sales. Interested? Check me out on Facebook! That's right, One Sassy housewife is now on Facebook! Moving up in the world.

We're getting down to it, aren't we? A few days to Thanksgiving, and that's the official start, isn't it? You might love it, you might dread it, you might not celebrate it, but in this country it's pretty hard to ignore it. Christmas is coming, my friends!
But I better back up before my husband, Mr. Spirit-of-Thankgiving gets all on my case. Lets talk about Thankgiving. Are you having a big meal with friends and family? Are you roasting a bird? Are visions of stuffing, yams, and greenbean casserole already dancing in your head???
Would you like to know what will be on my table come Thursday?
Roast Beef.
Yup, roast beef. We are not huge turkey people, and our family is small, and my husband requested roast beef. Who am I to deny him. Especially because I make a mean roast. And I like to see my husband scarf down anything that I make-- but especially slow roasted meaty goodness.
Roast Beef is one of those things that can be so good, or so... not. There doesn't seem to be an in between but you know you've had good roast beef, and you know you've had bad, right? Making a good one is not so complicated; It takes a little attention, a few hours, and a good family recipe. I thought I would share mine with you this week... just in case you are an 'outside the box' thanksgiving-er and needed a recipe for this week. Wink.

This recipe--like most things I make-- came from my dad, and is really in truth not a recipe at all, but years of observing him make a sunday roast. Most of my dad's cooking know how came from his mom, but if pressed, he will sheepishly admit that he does not love his mom's roast, and does not make it the same way she does. Sorry to rat you out, Dad. But you do make a darn good roast, and grandma was a sweet, forgiving woman. :)

One of the important parts of making a good roast beef is the pan. You really need a dutch oven. Mine is a Magnalite dutch oven, which has just recently come back into production! Back when I was moving out on my own, my parents scoured antique shops and ebay trying to to find a magnalite dutch oven for me. They are these awesome cast aluminum dutch ovens... it's the only thing grandma would cook in, and the only thing Dad will make a roast in too. I have a couple of really expensive and larger dutch ovens, and they would work too, but nothing NOTHING is better than the magnalite for a roast. And thats all there is to that. Enough about hardware, onto the foodwares...

Get your dutch oven on the stove top and nice and hot. Throw in enough olive oil to cover the bottom, and get it really hot. Quarter an onion and place it (cut side down) in the pan for about a minute.
See all that pretty color? Thats good stuff! Now dig those onions out to a safe place, and clean and chop some carrots into large (but hopefully kind of uniform) chunks, and throw them in there to do the same. Also peel a few garlic cloves (feel free to smash them or leave them whole depending on how vicious you happen to be feeling that day...)

(You see how all my oil is puddling on one side because my burners on our junk stove top don't sit level? That's no good. Don't be like me. Try to find a level burner. But don't make your landlord mad. But level burners are pretty important.)
Do the same thing you did with the onions, about a minute... toss them around a little. You are not cooking them right now, you are just trying to get some color and carmelization going. Pull those out and put them in the safe place with the onions.
Grab a plate and put down a few tablespoons of flour and a good amount of salt and pepper.
Mix that all together, because you are going to dredge your meat in that mixture. Dredge it a weirdo word that just means coat your raw meat in a thin layer of flour.
I am using a tip roast here... because they are typically smaller and I was making roast beef for two. Also the tip roast is typically a little leaner, but that also means it can be a bit tougher and less flavorful. I would usually use a rump roast and one with lots of marbling. All that fat marbling throughout the meat means lots and lots of flavor and it will be more tender and juicy. That is my preferred piece of meat.  But hey, get whatever is cheapest, or available, or best for your family... that's what I've got going on here.
So anyway, dredge your meat, then put it down in the same screaming hot pan, right on top of where the veggies gave up their goodness.
You are going to sear that on all sides. I even stand it up on its sides-- holding it in place with the tongs-- to get a nice seared crust on all sides of the meat... like so:
See all the seasoned, crispy, browned goodness? It's gonna be magical. Again, we are not trying to cook this through at this point, so a hot pan, a quick sear until there is nice color on all sides, and then pull that baby out.
There will be little bits stuck to the bottom of your pan... that's gooooooooood. Now we are going to deglaze the pan. Another fancy culinary term for... we are using a liquid to scrape up all those happy bits stuck to the bottom. Pour in some beef broth... it should get all sizzly and steamy, because remember your pan is still super hot...
Now use a whisk to scrape all the happy bits off the bottom of the pan, and distribute their goodness throughout the liquid.
Once you've done that, put your roast back in the pan, and add enough liquid (beef broth) to cover the meat halfway. I also usually add a nice splash of red wine in there too. If you are adverse to alcohol or if you drank all the wine (oops) it's not ESSENTIAL to the overall turnout, but it does add a nice depth of flavor-- and it's really really good. So think about it.
Or don't. It's your roast.
Pile the onion and carrots and garlic around it the meat.
 And add a little kick with some rosemary and thyme sprinkled over the top. I prefer to use fresh herbs, they are kind of amazing, but we had a stupid hot summer that dried up my herb garden so all I had was dried, and dried herbs are still 100x better than no herbs, but if you have fresh herbs... go that way. But if all you have is dried... sprinkle and go.
Throw in a little more liquid... (the picture above needs more!) and then put your lid on nice and tight and put it in the oven at 275 for several hours. Your house is going to smell great, and you will be curious whats going on, but try not to touch it. The longer it sits undisturbed, the happier it will be.
Try not to be jealous of my pristine oven. I cleaned it myself.
My roast was little-- under 3 lbs, so 3 hours was about right. If you are more like 4 or 5 lbs, you will want 4 hours at least. Low and slow is the name of the game for a nice tender, tasty, roast.
One other thing... that I didn't picture... if you plan to add potatoes to your roast, wait until about a half hour before it's done, then throw in your clean, quartered (or mini) potatoes on the top, and put the lid back on and put it back in. If you put those things in at the beginning they will become mushy and bitter and over cooked and not at all what you want them to be. So a half hour out, deal?
Soooo... you waited your three (or four) hours and it smells amazing in your kitchen and everyone is hungry so it's time to pull it all out of the oven...
Use tongs and a spatuala, and maybe a friend, to help you lift the roast meat out of the pan in one piece. It should be very tender, so this should mostly not be really easy. Let him rest while you use a slotted spoon to fish out all the veggies (and in our house surgically separate them into unique piles so that Z doesn't have to come into contact with an onion, which would really ruin his day.) and put them onto your serving platter.
Then you can make your pan juices into a nice gravy (YES! DO IT!) or not if you are not gravy people (Who are you and why do you not like gravy? Who doesn't like gravy???).
Use a sharp knife to cut the roast into nice chunky slices (Opposite the grain) and transfer those to a platter.
If it's a fancy occasion (or thanksgiving dinner!) I would put it on my fancy platter with some bright green parsley and it would look lovely and everyone would be impressed. If it's a tuesday night, I just throw it on a big plate, and it still tastes awesome and everyone is impressed. So... your choice there.
Easy, delicious, hearty, comfort food. Holiday food. Family food.
Here's an unofficial recipe, typed in recipe form for those of you that need that...

Roast Beef  

1 whole (tip, rump, chuck) Roast
2 Tablespoons Olive Oil 
1 whole Onion (Or more)
4 whole Carrots (or more)
2-3 whole peeled garlic cloves
1 tablespoon flour
Salt and pepper
2-3 cups beef broth
1/2 cup red wine
1-2 sprigs fresh thyme (or about 1/2 teaspoon dry)
1-2 sprigs fresh rosemary (or about 1/2 teaspoon dry)

Heat a large pot or Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Add olive oil (enough to cover the bottom)
Quarter onions and cut 4 or more carrots into 2-inch slices. When the oil in the pot is very hot (but not smoking), add in the onions, browning them on both sides. Remove the onions to a plate.
Throw the carrots and garlic into the same hot pan and toss them around a bit until slightly browned, about a minute or so.
Mix flour, salt, and pepper. Dredge your meat in the flour mixture. Make sure it is well seasoned with the salt and pepper. Place the meat in the hot pan and sear it for about a minute on all sides until it is brown with a nice crust. Remove the roast to a plate.
With the burner still on high, use beef broth (about 1 cup) to deglaze the pan, scraping the bottom with a whisk to get all of the bits up and incorporated. Return roast to pan and add enough beef stock to covver the meat half way. Add the red wine (or an equivalent amount of stock). Place the vegetable all around the meat, as well as the herbs.
Cover with the lid, then roast in a 275F oven for 3 hours (for a 3-pound roast). For a 4 to 5-pound roast, plan on 4 hours.

Okay, I'm getting excited for Thanksgiving now! What are you eating? Anything beefy? Or does everyone else in the world just stick with Turkey?

1 comment:

  1. I'm trying my hand at a beef rib roast to take to my parents' house. I'll let you know how that goes. Friday, we'll be taking spicy mashed sweet potatoes to my in-laws', who are making turkey and other traditional foods.
    Glad to know you get the pleasure of feeding your family something they'll really enjoy :)
    Happy Thanksgiving!