Post # 296 The Best Roast Beef Dinner Ever!

October 15, 2014 at 12:28 PM | Posted in Uncategorized | Comments Off on Post # 296 The Best Roast Beef Dinner Ever!

I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again, and I’ll probably go to my grave saying it.  I am the world’s worst vegetarian.  I like the concept of being a vegetarian.  I know it’s a healthier way to eat.  I know that it can be done successfully.  I like vegetables enough to create an entire menu and lifestyle based on eating them.  The trouble is that I also like meat.  I’m a total caveman-driven carnivore.  I can’t go more than a few days without meat.  Trust me, I’ve tested this several times.  I just don’t have the won’t power necessary to be a dedicated vegetarian.

However, right now, on the peninsula, it’s the perfect time to be a “modified vegetarian.”  We’ve been getting the most amazing vegetables and fruit from the farm markets around here.  Everything tastes amazing, even the veggies I don’t like.  Throwing them together with a good piece of meat that’s been cooked to perfection creates an amazing meal.

But there’s the problem.  How do you cook meat to perfection.  Every cookbook you read tells a different story.  Every chef has a different palate.  Every restaurant serves it a different way.  So how do you season it?  How do you cook it?  Do you serve it with a sauce?  How many sides?

The basic question is what kind of meat do you serve?  I like them all, with very few exceptions.  Organ meats and baby meats don’t qualify.  But when I’m in a meat deprived state, the only one that will do is beef.  In almost any form.  I’ve been known to brown up a couple of pounds of hamburger and eat it right out of the skillet with a little salt.  Sometimes a little cheese.  Add some lettuce and tomato and it’s basically a taco without the tortilla.  But I digress.  Well, you can tell from the title where I’m heading with this.  It’s roast beef time!

Fall is the best time to make a good roast.  To take this:

eye-of-round-roast

and turn it into this:

eye-of-round-roast 1

And I’m going to tell you how.  In Fall, veggies are at their freshest best.  The air is cool so having the oven on won’t heat up the house terribly (unless you live in one of those perennially hot places).  And long cooking times, an investment in your family’s nutrition and enjoyment is always satisfying.

Before we talk about the main part of the meal, lets talk about sides.  Side dishes, sides as they’re called, can be as light or as heavy as you like.  Traditional thinking has always said Meat-Starch-Veg-Veg.  The Starch-Veg-Veg are the sides.  And there are a bazillion of them.  But when thinking about a Roast Beef Dinner, typically people think of the heavier starches like potatoes or doughy puddings.

Let’s talk about that pudding for a moment.  In the U.S., when you say pudding, most people think of a cooked sweetened and flavored milk concoction.  As a kid, my mom made buckets of butterscotch pudding.  It was her favorite so we ate it, too.  Hell, for us, it was sweet and a treat.  We didn’t care what it was.  We had chocolate a lot, too.  Sometimes vanilla and sometimes coconut.  Another big variety is bread pudding, basically bread bits soaked and baked in a sweet egg custard, sometimes with fruit, dried or otherwise.  But there’s another kind of pudding, a savory style, that’s a purely British invention, and is amazingly good.  I’ve talked about it in the past, so I won’t go into great detail.  But it takes flour, egg, and milk that’s been beaten to a froth, and placed into a muffin tins with beef dripping heated very hot.  When they’re cooked, they turn into a sort of soufflé.  Pour gravy into those and you can skip the meat altogether.

roast beef dinner 1.jpg

Looking at the picture, you can see the “typical” sides for a roast beef dinner.  Root vegetables tend to go well with the heartiness of a good roast beef.  Potatoes in nearly any form, carrots that have been steamed or boiled then sautéed in butter, breads, garden salads, rice.  It all works.  But in a “traditional” roast beef dinner, the starchy root veggies are the norm.

Roast Beef Dinner 2

But back to the question of how to turn this:

eye-of-round-roast

Into this:

eye-of-round-roast 1

Again, it starts with roast.  I use a 3 pound eye roast (the top picture).  You can take the fat layer off if you like, but I leave it on and cook it with the fat layer on top.  The fat melts over the meat, basting it with the seasonings you’ve put on it.  There’s one thing you’ll want to take off, the silverskin.  You’ll recognize this immediately when you see it.  It’s a connective tissue and completely inedible.  No matter how long you cook it, it will never taste good or get chewable.  I use a three pound roast because that will serve up to six or seven people in one sitting, or two people for three or four meals.  Prepare the roast by patting it dry, then taking your favorite meat rub and rubbing it all over the roast on every side, including the ends.  I usually put just salt and pepper on it.  Wrap the meat in plastic and put it in the fridge for at least an hour and up to 4 hours.

Heat your oven to 450.  Place your roast in a pan that allows the roast to sit off the bottom of the pan.  A good roasting pan will work, but I also use a cast iron skillet with ridges.  Put the roast in the oven at 450 for 7 minutes per pound of meat.  Then turn the oven off and DON’T OPEN THE OVEN DOOR FOR TWO AND A HALF HOURS.  That’s important.  It’s using the residual heat to cook the roast.  Opening the door lets all the heat escape.  At the end of the time, remove the roast and cover loosely with foil.  I usually put mine in the microwave.  It acts as a hot box.  Also, do not prick the meat with a fork or knife or anything.  All the meat juices will drain.

At this point, make all your sides.  I tend to go simple with a salad and bread, but you can be as elaborate as you like.  When you’re ready to serve, use a VERY sharp knife to slice the roast into whatever thickness you like.  When storing for later, wrap tightly in plastic, then foil.  The key is to keep the meat juices inside the roast.  When reheating, follow a modified form of the cooking instructions.  Take the plastic off, then wrap in foil.  Place in a cold oven and heat to 350.  Turn oven off and let roast set in oven for about twenty minutes or so.  It will be heated through, but still at the medium rare stage.

Hope you enjoy!

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