Saturday, January 9, 2010

Traditional Roast Beef dinner, lightened

My favorite cold winter night meal reminds me of late dinners with my grandparents, candlelight, flowers, linens, saying grace.
Growing up, my requested birthday dinner usually was roast beef with mashed potatoes and peas. (Maybe a little bit of sherry after the meal.)
As I've grown older and my palette has matured, more sophisticated food has replaced this heavy meal on my birthday list, and, really, I don't need butter and gravy (although, my mother and grandmother are known for their flavorful, thin gravy - if gravy could be described as elegant, this would be the gravy) to make a meal flavorful.
Still, the rich, buttery smell of roast beef ignites memories of cold, clear, quiet nights around the table, listening to my grandmother's favorite family stories.

Last month, Cooking Light published a feature about slow roasting, something I've never tried. While crock pots have become commonplace in kitchens, other types of slow roasting perhaps have been pushed aside. That's a real shame, because leaner cuts of beef can benefit from the gentle heat of slow roasting.

I had a fairly lean roast on sale that week from the grocery store and decided to give slow roasting a try.

First, I rubbed it down with garlic. Because I have more rosemary than I could possibly use, I snipped two long stems from the garden. The leaves are sticky, and the stems are sappy this time of year.

When I smell rosemary and know I'm cooking beef, I immediately scramble for citrus fruit. All we had on hand that day were sweet clementines. The rub was whole rosemary leaves, haphazardly torn, the zest of two clementines, the juice of one clementine, two tablespoons of olive oil, salt and pepper.

I think winter roasts are the most fun (except on holidays) when they are rustic - bushy rosemary, a few stray clementine seeds.

I would have roasted some root vegetables, but I wasn't quite there yet. Roasted roots are best in the dark center of winter, I think.

Hubby fluffed four large russets into a flavorful, light mashed potato. The key to fluffy mashed potatoes is to overboil them, until they basically fall apart when poked.

The verdict on slow roasting? Worth it. The meat was tender and juicy. If I'll be here to watch the oven, I'll make this my standard method of roasting meat.

Some peas and crusty baguette rounded out the meal - still heavy, but made lighter by adding flavors, thereby eliminating the need for gravy or lots of butter. I had tiny portions of potatoes and baguette, but I was still too satisfied to dip into the salad.


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  2. That looks wonderful. I have so much Rosemary from my plants I grew.
    Healthy eating is a goal of mine and I enjoy seeing great recipes.
    I am a firm believer that diets do not work. Making healthy lifestyle changes is the key to losing weight, keeping it off, having more energy and feeling good about yourself.

    Healthy Lifestyle

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