I have gotten a little behind on my posts from cooking class. The duck confit from Poultry night took a week to finish, and I have been busy planning Easter dinner and enjoying spring break with my kids.
We gathered with some friends in our driveway last night to let the kids play, and the grown-ups relax and catch up. This a weekly tradition we started last year, and I have been anxiously awaiting warm weather so we could start back up again. I made a cocktail for the occasion with Rose wine, blackberries, a little Grand Marnier, and a splash of seltzer. Ever since reading Blood, Bones, and Butter by Gabrielle Hamilton; I have been wanting to sip Rose wine all summer long and have cold apricot juice and espresso every morning as she does in the book. She drinks hers at a villa in Italy. I’ll have to savor mine in a lawn chair on the driveway. Almost as classy, right?
Spring in Virginia is fleeting and before we know it summer will be here, so right now I want to focus on the joys of the season. The roast beef we learned in class last week at L’Academie de Cuisine makes a wonderful spring dinner served with potatoes and asparagus, peas, or another seasonal vegetable. I loved making this beef because it was simple, but it looks fancy, and tastes wonderful. This is not a great recipe for those who like their meat well-done. This roast is beautifully red and juicy inside. You don’t need much equipment to pull it off: a saute pan, some kitchen twine (optional), an instant read thermometer (or one of the fancy wireless ones), an oven rack (I used a cookie cooling tray set inside a pan), some kitchen tongs are helpful, and a sharp knife to slice your meat.
Canola oil – to sear the roast
Salt and Pepper – lots!
Garlic – as much you like
Rosemary – a few sprigs
a Top Round or Sirloin roast – size depends on your family, I made one that was about a pound in class, and this past weekend I made one over 3 lbs. when we had family over for dinner
Preheat your oven to 325 degrees.
To start, you will want to peel your garlic, and slice any large cloves vertically into a few smaller pieces. You will also want to cut your rosemary into pieces that are roughly the size of your garlic. Using a sharp knife, pierce the roast to the depth of your garlic clove, and then using your fingers, stuff the hole with a piece of garlic and a little sprig of rosemary. You want the garlic and rosemary to fill the hole without too much hanging out because those pieces will burn in the oven. Repeat this all over your meat, until you are satisfied with it. Salt and Pepper liberally- all over the roast. Don’t skimp!
Next, you can truss your roast, although you don’t have to. I wish I had picture instructions for this. It is very hard to take pictures when you are working with raw meat. You have to wash your hands off before handling your camera, and then go back to the meat, repeat, repeat, repeat. I kind of gave up. Here is a great tutorial, that can get you started:
Next you are ready to sear the roast. Don’t rush this. You want a very dark brown crust all over your meat. You need to get your pan HOT before you even think about putting the roast in. Hold you hand over your pan, and if it doesn’t feel uncomfortably hot to hold your hand there- it’s not hot enough. Add a layer of canola oil to the pan- enough to cover the bottom of the pan completely. Then using your tongs, grab your roast and put it in the pan. You should hear a LOT of sizzle. Peek under the meat after a minute or two to make sure it is browning. When you get a good brown sear, then turn the meat. Brown it throughly all over- top, bottom, front, back, sides- everywhere.
Next, remove your roast to a rack set in or overtop of a pan. Nothing fancy here- just so the roast isn’t sitting in the pan.
Now you can put the roast in the oven. You are cooking it at 325-350 degrees, until the middle of the roast has reached an internal temperature of 110-115 degrees, which is medium-rare. If you started with a smaller roast, I would check after 10 minutes with an instant read thermometer to see how fast it is cooking, and then again periodically depending on what temperature you are at. My roast in class was pretty small, and cooked within 20 minutes. The roast I made at home was pretty huge, and it probably took 45 minutes to an hour to cook. The timing will also depend if your roast was straight from the fridge or came to room temperature before you started to cook it.
Once the internal temperature is 110-115 degrees, pull the roast out of the oven, lay a piece of aluminum foil over it (not too tight- just to hold a little heat in) and let it rest for at least 10-15 minutes. This is very important. You meat should generally rest 1/3 of the total time it took to cook. When the temperature increases, so does the pressure inside the meat. This drives the moisture to the center of the meat under pressure. If you cut your meat while it is still hot from the oven those juices (still under pressure) are just going to burst out all over your plate, and the meat will be left dry. If you wait and let the meat rest and cool a little, the pressure decreases and the juices re-distribute throughout the meat.
Once you are ready to slice your meat, you want to make sure you are using the sharpest knife you have, preferably a meat slicing knife. You want to cut against the grain of the meat, in very thin slices. This will maximize the tenderness of the meat.
So there you have it. You can serve this with delicious mashed potatoes (pommes puree if you are French), or on a sandwich with cheddar, horseradish creme fraiche, and arugula. Or, you can both- one for dinner and one for lunch the next day, like I did.
I hope you will try this out, and I hope you enjoy it as much as I did.
Happy Cooking and Enjoy your Spring!