Tuesday, November 16, 2010

And now, for something a little different...

When planning our sunday dinners, I tend to default to chicken an awful lot. I'm not sure why. All of us actually like beef, although when the kids were small I tended to avoid hamburger as I was certain I was going to give them e coli. That's when we discovered the wonders of ground soy. But I digress.

If you're going to make roast beef for dinner I figure you should go all out and serve it with all the traditional trimmings, which brings to (my) mind mashed potatoes, gravy, corn and popovers, which are kind of like Yorkshire Pudding. For this week's sunday dinner we bought a beautiful roast at Remark, a local 'boutique' grocery store. They have a wonderful meat counter at Remark. I bought some fresh lamb there a while back for Thanksgiving that was superb. What I like about shopping at Remark is how friendly and knowledgeable their staff are. For example, while I was browsing for the right size and cut of beef for my recipe, a staff person asked me what I was looking for, noted I wouldn't find that size of cut out in the case and offered to get me a fresh piece.

I didn't do anything fancy with my oven roast. I used a recipe from my New Canadian Basics cookbook for the roast, gravy and popovers. The roast was 4 pounds, and I rubbed it with a combination of olive oil, wooster sauce, Dijon mustard, garlic cloves, dried thyme and pepper. It went in to the oven on a rack in a roasting pan that had about an inch of water in the bottom; it started at very high heat (500F) for 30 minutes then I reduced the heat to 275F and let it roast until it was medium well, about an hour and a half longer.

The gravy I made using butter and flour because there wasn't a lot of fat on the roast for drippings. The water in the bottom of the pan had mostly evaporated by the time gravy was on my mind, so I threw in a few tablespoons of butter and some beef stock (about a cup and a half), scraped up what was stuck to the bottom of my roasting pan and thickened it with a 1/4 cup or so of flour. I poured the whole works through a sieve once it appeared a good consistency and happily, it tasted pretty good.

Popovers are one of those dishes that make me wish for one of these. Because I have to bake them at a different temperature than the beef I end up making them after the roast is done and they take about 30 minutes to cook. New Canadian Basics does say I could make them a day ahead but let's be realistic - I ain't that organized. Be forewarned: some of the ingredients for popovers have to be at room temperature. They sound fussy but are actually very easy to make.

2 eggs, at room temperature
1 cup milk, at room temperature
1 tbsp butter, melted
1 cup flour
1/2 tsp salt

Preheat oven to 450F. Grease 12 muffin cups. Beat eggs lightly in bowl, stir in milk and butter. Add flour and salt mixing with a fork until just nearly smooth. Fill muffin cups half way full. Bake for 15 minutes, reduce heat to 350F and bake 15 minutes longer or until well puffed and brown.

This is where it gets funky. I found that after 30 minutes my popovers were done. The recipe suggests you snip the tops of your popovers and return them to the oven for 10 more minutes to make them browned and crisp outside, nearly hollow inside. But we kind of like the chewy yummy-ness you get when you skip this step, which admittedly we discovered because we were too impatient to wait another ten minutes to eat.

This was a really well received sunday dinner. I think that since we started with sunday dinners (eat in the dining room, have to take at least one bite of everything served) the boys have grown to like our little tradition and even look forward to it each week. It's exposed them to foods they wouldn't necessarily have tried otherwise, and while sometimes it has taken a couple tries, they do discover new foods they like. Such as beef, which we no longer have to pretend is chicken.

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