Friday, March 2, 2012

Roast eye of round for a mellow Friday

Well, focus aside it does show how the meat is perfectly rare.
I am messing with my menu because my week has been strange.  After I realized how crazy Thursday would be I pulled the chicken thighs out of the freezer and soaked pink lentils.  The chicken and dal were great for our busy night.  Then I decided to put off the shepherds pie till Saturday.  So tonight we are having the eye of round instead.  (As it happens my Saturday is going to be taken up with my older son's girlfriend's Bat Mitzvah and meetings for a convention I am helping run, so perhaps my husband will be making shepherds pie, or perhaps he will make cheeseburgers and roast potatoes.)

This brings me to an important point: time, and timing.  The actual work of cooking like I do is no more or less than cooking processed foods, but often there are aspects that are time consuming, if no work.  Soaking beans really well increases their digestibility, makes cooking them easier, and gives them better texture.  But you do have to think about it ahead of time.  That's why menu planning is so important, and shopping ahead at least a little.  On the other hand, it takes a minute at most to rinse, pick through the beans for dirt or rocks, and then cover them with an inch or two of filtered water.  Easy to do at bed time, or while cleaning up from dinner.  It's very worth it, but you do have to have a mental plan.  That's why I think writing a menu is so great, I plan once and then just check the list.  Also, my husband can start dinner if I am late, because he knows what the plan is, and the ingredients are there.

Roast eye of round, mashed potatoes, mashed sweet potatoes, steamed carrots, turnips, and broccoli, green salad with radishes.  Cheese.

Eye of round can be tough, though tasty.  Roasted this way it is really perfect though.  Crusty and browned on the outside, even medium pink all through the center. Left over it has the classic "roast beef" taste and texture.  When I first started eating meat I was obsessed with steak, but eventually reality sets in and you realize you will go broke.  So now I focus on more affordable cuts and save the steak for special occasions.  For a long time that meant stew and pot roast, but I have branched out into "Sunday roast." And then realized it's really easy to make a roast.  You put it in the oven, peel some potatoes, steam some veggies, and you're done.  That's how my grandma Jean made cooking look so easy!  That and brownies from a mix.

The first step is to buy healthful flavorful meat.  I prefer Grass Run Farm beef, though I also like Thousand Hills, both local and grass fed.  Part of my journey back from vegetarianism has been choosing to support animal husbandry practices that are ethical.  A vegetarian has no impact on the beef market, a meat eater who chooses grass fed, ethically produced and processed meat encourages more farmers to choose sustainable practices.  I feel good about supporting local farmers who are making good choices.

My grandma Jean and my aunt Elaine both always made roast this way when I was a kid, and I remembered how good they were after 30 years of vegetarianism.  Turn the oven on to 500 and let it heat up for at least a half hour.  Sprinkle your roast with salt and pepper, or add a beef spice mix, I use a mixture of thyme, coriander, caraway, dill seed, and red pepper flakes.  Put it in a cast iron skillet that's just a bit bigger than the roast.  Put it in the oven and then turn the oven down to 450.  Leave it for 7 minutes per pound, then turn the oven off and don't open the door for 2-2.5 hours.  Our roast was 1.8 pounds tonight, and I cooked it for 14 minutes before I turned the oven off.  Our roast was just a little bit frozen in the middle when I put it in, and it turned out perfectly medium rare.  I might reduce the time at 450 by a minute or two if it were perfectly thawed.

Obviously you have to get home earlier to make this, but on the other hand you can put it in the oven, peel a few potatoes, throw broccoli in the steamer (don't turn it on yet) and then go do some laundry, bring a kid to an after school class, read a book.  That's it.  The oven is turned off, so though it takes a long time you don't have to worry about it. I peeled the potatoes, put the left-over sweet potatoes in a pan, put the veggies in the steamer.  Blogged, did a load of laundry, had a glass of wine.  A half hour before the meat was ready I started the potatoes, when they started boiling I turned on the sweet potatoes and the veggies. My older son made a salad and some dressing.  My daughter is out tonight, and my younger son requested "cheese" for his protein, so that's what he gets.  I am skipping the frittata.

Buy an extra pound of beef though, it really is good as left overs.  We don't get to have much in the way of leftovers because my formerly vegetarian son will eat all of the beef until it's gone.  I assume he is deficient in something in the beef and he will moderate his appetite for meat when he has caught up.  When I decided a low fat diet was harming my health and gave myself permission to eat fat I spent several months snacking on slices of butter.  One day I went to slice some butter and the thought of putting it in my mouth made me gag.  I use fats with wild abandon now, but whatever was in butter that I needed, I seem to have caught up.  I don't eat slices of butter any more.  By the way, I was eating low fat because I thought I would lose weight, but I never did.  I started eating all the fat I wanted and I didn't gain any weight at all.  Not a bit.  It kind of makes you want to cry.

Strangely, I eat a lot like my grandma Jean now, meat, potatoes, some relishes (carrot sticks, olives, celery, or gherkins, I don't know why we call them relishes in my family,) or a salad, some steamed vegetables, maybe a good brownie on Sundays.  My brownies are all gluten free, but eating Sunday dinner at grandma's would be no problem for me.

Or as my Finnish/German host mother always says: Mann muss tun was der Koerper verlangt.  Or: give your body what it asks for.  (No, that's not an exact translation, but that's what it means.) If you are only eating real foods I believe you can trust what your body is asking for.  What is your body asking you for?

1 comment:

  1. Long long ago when I used to have supper with you occasionally, when certain people were babies or toddlers or not even born yet, you used to make the most amazing soups. Turns out that it was CHEESE that made them so good.

    The whole diet industry is a complete crap, and it's so good to hear about people who decide to stop listening to all those crazy "shoulds". I lost a lot of weight about 8-10 years ago, and I finally figured that it was because I had gotten over Doug, and I was really really relaxed and happy, and it sure as hell wasn't from dieting, and it stayed off for about seven years, and now suddenly I've gained about 35 pounds, and the only thing I can figure is that it's all the stress from all the stupid changes happening at work, and my second son not at all doing what he is supposed to be doing, but I agree that if you are eating good foods, that your body will tell you what it needs....