Monday, December 8, 2008

Proper Roast Beef

Growing up, roast beef was some dry crusty grey meat that wasn't even edible even when drenched in gravy. But beef is beef. A roast is no different than a steak. And I don't remember my father eating his beef well well done so I don't know why he treated his roasts that way. Oh well, I know better now.

The inspiration for this traditional meal came from two places: 1) my discovery of an organic beef farmer at the Dieppe Farmer's market who raises his cattle in pastures where they are free to graze and live a chemical free life, and 2) yet another recipe in Jamie Oliver's infinitely useful cookbook, Cook with Jamie. I also took out a meat thermometre, something I don't even think my father knows exists.

Mr. Oliver's recipe calls for roasted beets alongside the beef but seeing as we're past the season of variety at my local farmers markets I made due with root vegetables. I chopped up some ruttabegga, small potatoes, organic carrots (that actually taste like carrots) and the sweetest little onions you've ever tasted. I pressed some of the onions and garlic into the beef, topped these with a handful of thyme sprigs, wrapped the whole thing in bacon, and then slathered it with olive oil and balsamic vinegar. Propping my beef contraption on some carrots - for a roast mustn't boil - I cooked the whole thing, excluding vegetables, for an hour in a 400 degree oven. I then added the vegetables and cooked the whole thing for another hour, making sure to baste the whole thing from time to time. I also stuck the meat thermometre in at this point. I wanted my meat medium well. Not dry.

Once the meat was cooked, I put it in a bowl, covered it in aluminum foil and let it rest for 20 minutes. In the meantime, I drained the juice from the pan, reduced it and kept roasting the vegetables.

Thin slices of beef with sweet roasted vegetables (the onions were the best since I only peeled them and left them whole) and all deliciously swimming in reduced jus. Very good, very well cooked and very different from what my childhood memories.

My girlfriend even said that this was one of the best things I've ever made. Now that's an accomplishment!

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