Sunday, May 2, 2010

The One 'True' Meal

I grew up from a very particular family. Things are done a certain way for a certain reason and rarely did we vary from it. In fact, some things became so 'traditional' that it would take on almost a religious overtone. Sunday dinners being one of these things, it just wasn't Sunday if there wasn't a pot roast, accompanied by Yorkshire pudding and gravy. My brother, Joseph, LOVED roast beef. I wonder if in part it was due to the fact it was one of the few meals we had that wasn't Chinese and it was a serious breach of protocol if we varied from it. Inevitably there would be leftovers of pot roast that would be sufficient to make up the roast beef sandwiches for everyone for the week. These, in and of themselves became a joke among my friends as everyday they'd compare and swap lunches and they turn to me and say, "Soooo .... let me guess ... roast beef?!" I just got in touch with an old friend of mine through Facebook and the first thing she said to me was, "Do you remember how you ALWAYS ate roast beef sandwiches?" How could I not!

So it is no surprise that once I left home for college I shied as far as possible from this traditional meal. It's only been recently that I've begun to cook it for my personal pleasure. The crock pot has been great for pot roasts, but I always wondered about oven roasts. I'm too cheap to buy a good cut but was worried I'd see my family take a chainsaw to cutting it up. But after thorough research I found this recipe online and tried it today. ( It was amazing! So much better than pot roasts in flavor, cooks over 3-4 hour period (for all those crazy LDS and their 3 hour church meetings!) it's easy and uses cheaper cuts of beef. Can I ask for more?!

Roast Beef Recipe
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3 to 3 1/2 lbs of Boneless Rump Roast (pick a end cut with a lot of fat marbling)
Olive oil
8 slivers of garlic
Salt and pepper
You will need a meat thermometer

For the gravy:

Red wine, water, and or beef stock
corn starch
1 Start with the roast at room temperature (remove from refrigerator 1 hour before cooking - keep it wrapped). Preheat the oven to 375°F.

2 With a sharp knife make 8 small incisions around the roast. Place a sliver of garlic into each incision. Take a tablespoon or so of olive oil and spread all around the roast. Sprinkle around the roast with salt and pepper. Place the roast directly on an oven rack, fatty side up, with a drip pan on a rack beneath the roasting rack. This arrangement creates convection in the oven so that you do not need to turn the roast. The roast is placed fat side up so that as the fat melts it will bathe the entire roast in its juices.

3 Brown the roast at 375°F for half an hour. Lower the heat to 225°F. The roast should take somewhere from 2 to 3 hours additionally to cook. When the roast just starts to drip its juices and it is brown on the outside, check the temperature with a meat thermometer. Pull the roast from the oven when the inside temperature of the roast is 135° to 140°F. Let the roast rest for at least 15 minutes, tented in aluminum foil to keep warm, before carving to serve.

Serves 4-6.

To make the gravy:
Remove the dripping pan from the oven and place on the stove top at medium heat. Note that if you are pulling the roast out early, for rare or a medium rare level of doneness, you may not have a lot of drippings. Hopefully you will have some. If not, you may want to leave the roast in a little longer at even lower heat, 175°F, to ease some more drippings out of it. Add some water, red wine, or beef stock to the drippings to deglaze (loosen the drippings from the pan). Dissolve a tablespoon of cornstarch in a little water and add to the drip pan. Stir quickly while the gravy thickens to avoid lumping. You can add a little butter if there is not a lot of fat in the drippings. Add salt and pepper to taste. Mom adds some fresh thyme too if she has some. (See also How to Make Gravy.)

So perhaps I'll have to change my tone about this very traditional Sunday meal. Just as long as I'm not left eating it day in and day out until the next week!

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