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John Golden

John Golden writes about food and has a highly opinionated blog, The Golden Dish.

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Posted: October 29, 2014

Roast beef: the art of roasting and the best cuts to use

So far in this series on roast beef, each cut of meat that was prepared has yielded different degrees of beef flavor and tenderness. Next week look for the spoon roast, a cut from the sirloin that rivals prime rib.

Written by: John Golden

The fine art of  roasting takes center stage once again as we continue to assess those cuts of beef best for roasting.  So far with the sirloin roast and the rump roast under our belts, this past week I cooked what’s called sirloin tip (from the round) from Curtis Meats in Warren, the country butcher whose beef comes from their own herd that graze on grass but are finished off on grain.

This cut is relatively lean but has deep beef flavor.  It’s best to roast it starting in a hot oven (450 degrees) and then finishing it off in a moderately hot (375 degrees) oven.  The roast was about 4 pounds and it took about an hour and 20 minutes to reach 125 degrees for medium rare.  I coated it with my seasoning blend of kosher salt, black pepper, garlic salt and dried thyme and rubbed the roast lightly with vegetable oil.  Put it in a roasting pan on a rack or placed directly on the pan. Serve with wine gravy (see October 22 post for recipe)

Sirloin tip roast, cooked medium rare

Sirloin tip roast, cooked medium rare

This was a great cut for roasting with extremely tender and flavorful meat.  What’s great about roasting is that there’s little effort involved, which allows you to spend time on the side dishes.

For potato accompaniment I did a classic puree of potatoes.  Since I always have a large supply of different potatoes on hand, I used several varieties including russet, a yellow-fleshed spud called Augusta from Six River Farm and a red-skinned variety.

To prepare the puree, peel and boil the potatoes in salted water until done, about 20 minutes.  Put the potatoes (about 2 pounds) through a ricer into a sauce pot that has about a 1/2 cup of hot milk and several tablespoons of butter already simmering and butter melting.  Stir until mixed and add more milk, if necessary until the potatoes are creamy, being careful not to add too much milk, which would make the mixture soupy. Season generously with salt and pepper. Another method to get a fine puree is to bake russet potatoes, scooping out the flesh into a pan of hot milk and butter and cream as above.

You can prepare the puree ahead (about 30 minutes) by placing a buttered piece of waxed paper directly on the pureed potatoes and cover until needed.  To reheat, add a few drops of milk and more butter, stirring constantly over low heat. Another method is to put the pureed potatoes into a baking dish, wrap tightly and refrigerate until needed.  When ready to reheat sprinkle the top with grated Parmesan and put into a 375 degree oven for about 25 minutes.

Roast beef dinner with caramelized Brussel sprouts, glazed carrots and potato puree

Roast beef dinner with caramelized Brussel sprouts, glazed carrots and potato puree

Other good side dishes to serve with the roast could include a broccoli soufflé or casserole, carrot pudding or glazed carrots and caramelized Brussel sprouts.

For dessert I served an unusual pie–at least in our neck of the woods.   It’s a classic old-fashioned diner pie the kind you’d encounter if you were traveling in the rural south and happened upon one of those great diners or family style restaurants the serve  delicious home-style cooking.

It’s called Meal Pie, which is similar to a chess pie, the South’s version of New England’s custard pie.  Except it’s much sweeter and has a touch of flour and corn meal in the custard.  The top is crunchy and the filling firm but creamy.  Serve it with whipped cream.

Note that the pie dough wasn’t given the usual neatly pinched border; instead I preferred the rustic look.  Just take a knife and go around the rim, pressing down to form a “rough” pinch.

A rustic diner style Meal Pie

A rustic diner style Meal Pie

Diner style Meal Pie

Servings: 6 to 8

1 9-inch unbaked pie crust

8 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened

1 1/2 cups sugar

2 tablespoons white or yellow cornmeal

Pinch salt

1/3 cup buttermilk

3 eggs, beaten

1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

Put the pie dough into a 9-inch pie dish and refrigerate while you prepare the filling.

In a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream the butter until fairly creamy.  Beat in the sugar and beat until fluffy.  Add the cornmeal, flour and salt and cream again.  Add the buttermilk and eggs and beat until creamy. Stir in the vanilla.  Pour into the pie shell. Place on a baking sheet.

Bake for 15 minutes and lower the heat to 325 degrees and continue to bake for about 35 minutes; the top will feel firm and the filling will be set.  Cool to room temperature before cutting.  Serve with whipped cream.

The following preparations are not written in recipe format but rather directions are given for method only, in amounts depending on what you need.

Glazed carrots.  Cut diagonally as many scraped and cleaned carrots as needed into 2 inch lengths.  Put into a heavy bottomed saucepot and barely cover with water.  Add a generous amount of butter, about 2 tablespoons or more of sugar (depending on the amount of carrots), 1 spice-clove, salt and pepper.  Bring the water to the boil, uncovered, and cook vigorously until the water is nearly evaporated and becomes syrupy, about 10 to 15 minutes.  The carrots will be cooked but still firm. Stir the carrots around in the glaze.

Caramelized Brussel sprouts.  Par boil trimmed Brussel sprouts (removing stem and outer leaves)  for about 7 minutes until slightly cooked but still firm.  Meanwhile fry several strips of bacon in a sauté pan over low heating, turning often until done. Remove to a plate lined with paper toweling.  Leaving most of the bacon fat in the pan, add a tablespoon or two of butter and melt.  Add the Brussel sprouts and sauté over medium heat until tender, about 10 minutes, stirring often.  While sautéing you can optionally add some minced garlic to the pan, being careful that it doesn’t burn.  Cook, stirring often, until the sprouts are al dente and caramelized.  When done, stir in crumbled bacon and serve.

Local ingredients used

Beef, Curtis Meats, 1719 Camden Rd. (Route 90), Warren, ME  207-273-2574

Carrots, various vendors, Portland Farmer’s Market

Brussel Sprouts, various vendors, Portland Farmer’s Market

Potatoes, various vendors, Portland Farmer’s Market

Eggs, Alewive’s Brook Farm

Butter, European style 83 percent butterfat available at Cabot Farmer’s Annex, 163 Commercial St., Portland

Buttermilk, Balfour Dairy


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