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.
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.