I hate making New Year's resolutions. I don't mind quietly taking stock of myself and deciding that I will take note of a few things I would like to change, some improvements that could be made or other stuff that needs to be continued in the new year ahead but I never make any sort of declaration. I hate making a list of them and I hate attempting to commit myself to things I have no intention of following through with for an entire year. Let's be honest, I am not going to stop drinking red wine, I might start doing more yoga again and it's possible that I will endeavour to yell a little less but it won't be because I made a resolution to do so.
That said, the eighth challenge in the Great Canadian Food Experience is called Canadian Resolutions. I have spent the last week or so trying to think about what I would like to accomplish, change or start doing anew when it comes to food. The one thing I try to do all the time is to challenge myself and to try things that I am not comfortable with but, because I don't make resolutions, I don't actually commit to it out loud or anything and I never really stick to it, I just think about sticking to it a lot.
Back when my almost 15 year old was a baby, we started getting a weekly organic produce box and almost every week there was at least one vegetable that I didn't know what to do with. Because waste makes me crazy, I would really make an effort to make something new and interesting with those vegetables and it was a good exercise in shaking things up a bit. We didn't love everything that we tried but I appreciated being forced to cook things that would have never otherwise found their way into my kitchen and we did find some new favourites along the way.
I started out this whole blogging thing with a one year adventure called No ReEats with two friends - one was a veteran blogger and the other was not but the challenge was her idea so we ganged up on her and forced her to play with us. It was a year of a love/hate relationship with food and by the end, I wasn't sure if I even enjoyed cooking anymore but the farther away I get from that year, the more I miss it. It was ridiculously stressful to know that I could never repeat any dinner dish again but it also resulted in the discovery that we were actually in a bit of a rut. A delicious rut but a rut nonetheless. It made me feel better to imagine that even Susar Lee's kids must have groaned from time to time and said "sea urchin again daddy?" but that still didn't change the facts.
A rut doesn't have to mean nothing but jarred spaghetti sauce, frozen dinners and take out and participating in that year long challenge made me not just a better cook, but a more thoughtful cook. I could no longer just rely on my reliable stable of dishes and ingredients and had to really branch out and look for new things to cook, rely more on cookbooks and recipes and not just wing it all the time, look to other cultures to discover foods that weren't all that familiar to me and shake things up around here.
Although I keep telling myself that I am going to keep it up and try to make one brand new thing a week, it just becomes so easy to just make pasta with marinara, pulled pork or tacos again and I kind of slip back into old habits.
So, all that said, I resolve to make more of a commitment to making things that are new to me, working with ingredients that I am not altogether comfortable with and pushing myself a little harder this year, starting with this beef roast. You might think it odd that a woman who is comfortable making her own pasta, keeps her pantry stocked with kombu, gochujang, three kinds of miso paste and truffle oil or mixing korean and mexican ingredients together on a regular basis is afraid of a little, old sirloin tip roast, but I am. I am happy throwing a cheap cut of beef in the slow cooker with tomatoes, garlic and fennel but I just do not make any sort of beef roast. I like my meat to either fall apart in a saucy mess or be almost mooing at me when I cut into it and almost every roast I have eaten that has not been cooked in a restaurant has been far too well done for my liking.
So, today it's an actual roast beef and maybe tomorrow, I will make pie crust at last. I will use ingredients that perplex me, find ethnic cuisines that I know little about, spices that are foreign to me and I will endeavour to incorporate these things into our kitchen and our experience.
In the spirit of this new resolution (I just choked typing that word out by the way), I bought a small sirloin tip roast (the little ones scare me the most because they seem to be the hardest to roast in a way that will give me a nice crust on the outside but still be rare on the inside), read a hundred blogs and cookbooks to get the best possible method and this is what I ended up with. I was a bit terrified to turn the oven off and just leave it in there for two, solid hours but I figured that it would be undercooked, if anything, and I could always cut it into thick slices and throw them on the grill pan if that was the case but that wasn't the case at all.
It had a crunchy, salty outer crust and the inside was just the other side of rare on the way to medium rare. It was tender and delicious and I had to hide a few slices just so I would have something to photograph the next day after making The Kid a sandwich to take to school.
Let's just say that this will, most certainly, not be the last little roast beef I make this year.
High Low Roast Beef with Mushrooms
1.6 kg sirloin tip roast
a few sprigs of fresh thyme
about 1 tbls olive oil
for the sautéed mushrooms:
4 oz fresh mushrooms, sliced (I like to use fresh porcini, brown button and maybe some oyster)
1 1/2 tbls of butter
1 clove garlic, chopped
1 tbls sherry
melt the butter in a pan and sauté the garlic in that for a minute before adding the sliced mushrooms. Cook the mushrooms for about 3 to 4 minutes, until nicely browned and soft. Salt with a pinch of kosher salt and taste, adjusting if needed
Take the roast beef out of the fridge at least 1 1/2 hrs before you are going to roast it, 2 hrs if you are making a larger roast.
Preheat the oven to 500F
Rub the roast with the olive oil and sprinkle it all over with a generous amount of kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper. I would say I used about a heaping tbls of salt. Tuck the sprigs of thyme in up under the string that your roast is trussed with and put it in a shallow roasting pan ( I used my cast iron skillet) fat side up.
When the oven is smoking hot, quickly open the oven door, throw the pan in and shut the door quickly. For rare, let it cook for 5 minutes per pound or 6 minutes per pound for medium before you turn off the heat. I let my 1.6 kg sirloin tip cook for 8 1/2 minutes before shutting off the oven. Now, walk away. No, seriously, just walk away for two solid hours without opening the oven door. When you come back in two hours, you will find a perfectly cooked, just a touch about rare or medium rare - if you want to cook it to well done, I don't want to enable you so you will have to figure out the time yourself but I think about 7 or 8 minutes a pound will kill it, i mean cook it to well done.
The meat will not be hot by this time but it will be perfectly cooked, tender and delicious. I just topped it with the hot, buttery mushrooms and we were happy. It made amazing roast beef sandwiches the next day too.
|I smothered it in buttery mushrooms because, well, why not?|