March 15, 2010

March 15: THE MONDAY MENU: "Here's the beef!"

Back in 1984 an 81 year old woman named Clara Peller starred in a commercial for the fast food restaurant Wendy's and asked a simple question: "Where's the beef?"

The other day I asked myself that same question. Where is the beef? While Clara was inquiring about ground beef, my taste buds craved roast beef - cooked rare, sliced thin, and dripping with Au jus. But finding really good roast beef without paying the proverbial arm and leg can be as rare as the beef itself. Of course, you could always go cheap and buy it from a fast food restaurant, but the buyer should beware.

If you buy a roast beef sandwich from a fast food restaurant the meat on your sandwich will not be just meat. Fast food restaurants buy "roasts" that are often comprised of different cuts of beef that have been bathed in a chemical flavoring agent then slathered with an edible glue. These parts are then pressed into a mold at extremely high pressure so that after the meat is cooked it can be easily sliced.

The more tasty and healthier alternative is to go to a deli or some other non-fast food restaurant that cooks their own roast beef. But you better be ready to lighten the load in your wallet because overstuffed roast beef sandwiches with 6 -8 ounces of roast beef can sell for up to $8-$15 each! I don't know about you, but I refuse to pay that kind of money for a sandwich when I know that I can make it myself at home for only $2.50 per sandwich.

Yes, you can feed a family of four roast beef sandwiches for only $10. So the next time some asks you, "Where's the beef?, be sure to tell them that it's not in a restaurant; it's at home

Conversation starter: Clara Peller's line "Where's the beef?" sparked a nationwide phenomenon in the United States. To see the commercial click here. What lines from movies or commercials have made their way into your list of cliches? What lines do your friends use?

Herb Crusted Roast Beef with Au Jus

1 Eye round roast (3-4 lbs)
1 bunch fresh Thyme (leaves only)
2 sprigs Rosemary (leaves only)
1 teaspoon dry mustard
6 cloves garlic (depending on tatste)
1 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons fresh ground black pepper
1/3 Cup plus 2 Tablespoons vegetable oil


Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

Heat 2 tablespoons of vegetable oil in a cast iron skillet (preferred).
Once skillet is hot sear the roast on all sides until evenly caramelized.
Place a wire rack into a shallow roasting pan. Remove roast and set it on the rack.
Using a food processor (or blender) combine remaining ingredients.
Evenly coat roast with herb paste on all sides.

Cook roast for two hours or until the internal temperature reaches 120 degrees F. Do not overcook or much of the roast's flavor and tenderness will be compromised.

Once cooked, remove roast from oven and place it on a platter. Cover with foil forming a tent. Allow meat to rest for fifteen minutes before slicing.The internal temperature of the meat will rise to 140 degrees F which is the perfect temperature for rare roast beef.

Au Jus

1 cup red wine
3 cups beef stock
Pan drippings from roast beef
1/4 teaspoon dried Thyme

Place the roasting pan and its dripping on your stove top (will cover two burners)
Using medium high heat begin caramelizing the pan dripping. Because an Eye Round roast has little to no fat, there may be very few drippings.
Add wine and using a wooden spoon loosen drippings from the bottom of the pan. Reduce mixture and add beef stock. Simmer over medium heat until mixture is reduce by half.
Add Thyme and season with salt and pepper to taste.

To serve: There are a couple of different ways to serve this roast beef. My preferred way is to eat it cold on a sandwich, but this requires some patience. Allow the roast to cool to room temperature, then wrap it uncut in plastic wrap and refrigerate overnight. The next day, unwrap it and slice it thin (1/4 inch or less). Build your sandwich according to taste. I personally like my roast beef sandwiches with: 1 tablespoon garlic mayonnaise ( four cloves of garlic roasted in butter until soft, mashed, cooled, then mixed with one cup mayonnaise) on a toasted onion roll, a teaspoon of prepared horseradish, Swiss cheese on 6 -8 ounces roast beef, lettuce tomato and a thinly sliced red onion.

Also, you can reheat the roast beef by dipping it in hot Au Jus for two or three minutes,.then serving it on a sub roll as a French dip, or as an open face sandwich. The roast can also be sliced thick (1/2 inch) and served as part of entree with garlic mashed potatoes and a vegetable. However you slice it, it will be delicious.

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