Thursday, January 6, 2011

What A Hunk: Herb-Crusted Roast Beef

I know what you're thinking:

"Roast beef? but that's so expensive!"

Nay, say I, doesn't have to be. Tonight we're talking about taking a less expensive, but no less delicious, cut of beef and putting it where it belongs- Eye of round roast. The key here is to NOT OVERCOOK it. This recipe may exclude a few parties based on their meat done-ness preference. I say to you now: if you like your beef cooked beyond medium, then don't try this with eye of round roast.

Actually, if you like your beef cooked beyond medium you have issues I cannot address, and you should seek help and/or therapy. But I digress...

In a mostly-related aside, the holiday issue of Food and Wine magazine had an article on intuitive cooking, and I highly recommend it. Mostly because that's how this roast came about and I'm not offering a lot of precise measurements. Don't panic. The seasonings here are pretty classic and fool-proof, so you should be fine working in "handfuls" and "pinches." A certain manic, bubbly, raspy voiced TV cook does it all the time - and this is way better than Rachael's that person's food.

The seasonings here would work on a pricier roast as well, so feel free to experiment.

One other important note - you need a probe thermometer. They're about ten bucks at most mega marts. It's a digital display with a probe on a long wire. Simply insert probe into the meat and set the digital display  to the preferred temperature of done-ness. The beast goes in the oven and the display (usually magnetized) can hang out on your oven door. It will beep when the meat is ready. (I always back it up with an instant read meat thermometer though, just to be safe and double check the temp after cooking)

Okay - here we go!

Herb-Crusted Roast Beef

1- 2 1/2 to 3 pound eye of round roast. (This smallish size cooks quickly, and easily feeds 3-4 people if you have a nice hearty side dish or two)

2 tablespoons Dijon mustard

a handful of fresh sage leaves, torn

leaves from 3 or 4 sprogs of rosemary, roughly chopped

2 Tablespoons olive oil

1 1/2 teaspoons coarse kosher salt

2 cloves garlic

about a palmful of fresh ground black pepper (coarse grind)

First things first - crank the oven up to 500 degrees and have a roasting pan with a rack handy.

This is what the roast looks like. Well, it should, at least:

yep - that's a roast

If you flip it over it will have a slab of fat. Don't panic - we like that sort of thing around here. Turn the roast fat-side up and score the fat in a nice diamond pattern, being careful not to cut all the way into the meat. It helps to have an incredibly sharp, fabulous knife like mine:

8-inch Shun Ken Onion series Chef's knife. Merry Christmas to me.
(For those who don't speak chef, this is an awesome knife and my husband gets SERIOUS brownie points for getting it for me)

Moving on - Brush the scored surface generously with the Dijon mustard. Get it all in the nooks and crannies.

Brush the sides too. Apparently I did...
Now toss the herbs, garlic, salt, pepper, and oil into a mini-prep or food processor and pulse to form a paste. Or you can use your awesome Christmas knife to chop and smush it into submission. Slather the herb paste all over the roast and place it in the roasting pan. Or put it in the pan and then slather it. Whatever tickles your fancy.

If I weren't such a pansy I'd just eat that raw. It looks so good...
Now place your thermometer probe in the roast and set it to 130 (medium rare), and pop it in the screaming hot 500 degree oven for 12 minutes. This will sear the outside and get a nice crust going. After 12 minutes, lower the heat to 375 and roast until it reaches an internal temperature of 130. This took my roast about 30 more minutes, but the time can vary. That's why your little probe thermometer comes in handy :)

When it gets to the magical temp, remove it from the oven and let it rest 10minutes before you carve it up. The temperature will go up a bit and the meat should be medium in the center. And now you have time to set the table...

After the meat is done resting take it to a cutting board and slice it nice and thin with your best carving knife. The ends may be a little more well done, but it should be rosy in the middle.

And the leftovers make FANTASTIC sandwiches!

Pictured with yesterday's risotto recipe

And in case you were wondering, I got my roast at Costco. It was a pack of 2 roasts for something like 12 dollars. Well worth it!

This and yesterday's risotto are nice to trot out for company when you want to impress but aren't made of money. If you are made of money, though, use truffles in the risotto and a standing rib roast. And call me for dinner...I'll bring the wine.

Hope you like it!

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