This is really the first day I’ve had time to sit and type since before Christmas. All that other time was spent either in preparation for the holiday (and holiday eve) or cleaning up after it, or working.
And my camera hasn’t been working, either, so that’s been frustrating. Bear with the cell phone pictures a bit longer, please.
I’m skipping ahead to our dinner on Christmas Day. Roast Beef and Yorkshire Pudding. I believe I’ve said it before, but this meal alone is probably responsible for me never lasting as a vegetarian years ago. I think I could survive for five days on the aroma alone.
And the best part, especially on a busy holiday, is how easy it is to make.
Here’s all I had to do…
First, I seared the meat on all sides. That means very hot pan and tongs to move the meat around and patience to let the meat sear without ripping it off the pan in your haste to get the whole thing in the oven.
Oh – and before searing, you SHOULD season the whole thing with salt and pepper. This year I forgot to. Not sure why, but it was probably my haste to get the whole thing in the oven.
This year’s cut was smaller than in the past. Mine was a 3-rib roast, and for the past several years we’ve had a 5-rib piece. But we didn’t need to feed as many people this time around, and honestly, we just finished the leftovers last night, so 3 ribs was plenty.
It’s labeled as “semi-boneless,” and what that means (I believe) is that the beef is carved off of the rib bones, but then tied (you can see the sting lines in some of the pictures) back to the bones for aesthetics and, perhaps, to lift the meat off the pan while roasting. After the roasting is done, you just snip the strings, remove the bone section, and carve easily. And – bonus – we’ve got beef ribs for making stock. Win-win!
Now for the roasting. All I do is let it sloooowwwwly roast in a 200F oven until the inner temperature is around 127-130.
The beef stays moist, and rare to medium rare in the middle, and it’s just fabulous. Now, if you prefer shoe leather, then go ahead and jack up the temperature and cook away. In our house, we like meat that looks like meat. And that we can chew without having to drown it in steak sauce. Tiny rant over. I have issues with overcooked meat.
Mine took about 6 1/2 hours to cook. Boneless, it would take, probably, about 5 1/2 hours. But, of course, ovens vary, and cuts of beef vary, too, so most important – check the internal temperature an hour BEFORE you think it will be ready. Or press on the meat to feel how much give it still has, if you have confidence in your doneness skillz.
I also kept an oven thermometer in there, because occasionally my oven doesn’t like to hold low temperatures for extended periods of time. This Christmas, however, it was completely cooperative and held at 200 the whole time. Thank you, oven!
When the internal temp was just about 130, I pulled the beef from the oven and moved it to a cutting board. You can see, in the picture below, that I’ve also removed the rib bones at this point.
Next up, while the beef is resting under a loose foil tent, I increased the oven temp to 450 F.
Time to make the Yorkshire Pudding!
Actually, preparation had begun while the beef was roasting.
I wanted to make a big, puddingy statement, I guess.
I could eat Yorkshire pudding every day. At every meal. In fact, contrary to what I implied earlier in this post, the Yorkshire pudding is my favorite part of the meal. I roast the meat just for the drippings.
Anyway, to make the pudding, all you need are flour, salt, milk, water, and eggs. In the picture above, I’ve got 3 cups of flour, 2 teaspoons of salt, 8 eggs, 3 cups of milk, and 4 tablespoons of water.
Beat the flour/salt mixture with the milk/water mixture until you’ve got a smooth almost-batter.
You also have to listen to it. Seriously. Cooking is not just chopping and measuring and tasting and smelling. You need to listen, too.
My grandmother’s verbal direction, when making Yorkshire pudding, was to “beat it til it plops.” That’s the sound it will make when everything is mixed perfectly, whether you’re using a spoon and your muscles or a stand mixer.
When I heard that plopping sound, I was happy.
Next, you put the whole thing in the fridge for at least a half hour.
I haven’t looked up the reasoning behind this, but my theory is that when something cold meats something really hot, it puffs up. Cells filled with air expand in the sudden heat.
That’s my theory, anyway.
Now, your roast beef is out, and off of the pan. And your pan is brown with drippings and wet with melted fat.
(Actually, here’s an interesting side note – if you slow cook the roast beef, you don’t get as much fat. The fat just soaks into the meat rather than spilling all over the pan. But whatever you have, if you can swirl it around to coat the pan, you’ve got enough.)
Then pour your batter into the pan – quickly – and put the whole thing in the oven AND DON’T OPEN THE DOOR.
Just let the Yorkshire pudding magic happen.
After about 15 minutes I dropped the temperature to 350 and baked it for about another half hour.
I admit, I did peek a couple of times.
Just to make sure it was shaping up nicely.
When I finally brought it to the table I think I was probably giggling with joy.
I probably could/should have cooked it another ten minutes – the inside was pretty soft, but I tend to like the squishy parts best anyway.
So that was our dinner. The roast beef, the Yorkshire pudding, gravy (which I’d made with my own canned beef stock, caramelized onion, a little bit of the pan drippings, a bit of a roux, salt, pepper, rosemary, a bit of roasted garlic paste…can’t remember if there was anything else. Oh! Yes – the roasted garlic jelly I made over the summer. Just a smidge – it’s half sweet, and I really didn’t want that in the gravy. But the balsamic and roasted garlic elements – definitely!
And after dinner, after we’d all pushed ourselves away from the table, waists greatly expanded, shirts stained with gravy (okay, I am exaggerating a bit), I did offer pie for dessert. Two that were left from our Christmas Eve feast and one that I’d made – I’m calling it The Ugliest Pie In The World, or Ugly Pie for short. Really, the top crust? I don’t know why it hated me so, but it did, and it looked awful. Inside, it was kind of like a mincemeat pie, but not exactly. Looks aside, it was a very tasty pie.
But one I’ll have to write about another time.