19 March 2012

Eats: beef roast and broccoli

Geez louise it’s warm outside, isn’t it?! That’s certainly the case here in Nashville, though I feel like everyone’s been unseasonably warm. Don’t get me wrong, though; I am loving these 80-plus-degree days. And the sun! And the extra hour of daylight! Huzzah, the world is no longer cold and dark!

I am not loving how I sweat like a pig when I make dinner every night. Nor am I loving how I still have some wintry-comfort-food, already prepared, that I have yet to feature here. Because I’m sure you were all looking for a great stew recipe to eat on a warm, sunny evening! Grr.

Although I prepared today’s recipe in the oven, it’s totally crockpot-adaptable, meaning you can avoid cranking up the oven on these warm days. And even though it’s technically a roast, I went with an Asian-inspired roast served with rice and broccoli – in other words, not the potatoes-and-carrots style roast more suited for cold weather.

It started, as these things usually do, with a sale in the meat department:

Beef roast under $3/pound? Yes please!

However, neither Mr. P nor I were in the mood for the potatoes-and-carrots style roast I mentioned a minute ago. So, I decided to spin this meat-department-find into one of our favorite Chinese-takeout dishes: beef and broccoli.

So, I started by heating a few teaspoons of olive oil and sesame oil to medium-high heat in my cast-iron Le Creuset, then tossing in some garlic, salt, and pepper:

And then searing the meat on both sides, just enough to brown the meat but not enough to burn the garlic:

I did this step because I knew, once the meat was cooked, I’d want to slice it, not shred it. I haven’t ever tried not searing it, but I feel like this made a difference in the meat “holding together” at the end. So, if you choose to try this with your crockpot, I’d still suggest that you get out the skillet and sear the meat first.

Then, I added just under a quarter-cup each of soy sauce and red wine vinegar, plus a bit more pepper (no more salt, there’s enough in the soy sauce):

And popped it in my preheated 325-degree oven. The general rule of thumb for cooking time is about 20 minutes per pound for a well-done roast... but I was a little too anxious about under-cooking ours and cooked it too long. It was still tasty but on the dry side. So be braver than me and follow the rule!

Still, I know, just the thought of turning on the oven is making you break out into sweat right now. In that case, throw it all in your crockpot instead. The rule there is one hour per pound on high, or one and a half hours on low.

In any case, we need to broccoli up this beef-and-broccoli. About twenty minutes before I decided the roast would be done (which was, at that moment, about ten minutes after the roast was done, but whatever), I added some chopped broccoli to the pot. Then I put it back in the oven, for the broccoli to steam in the roast juices and become all tasty:

Once I decided (a little late) that the roast was done, I took all the beef and broccoli out of the pot and set it aside. Then I reduced the liquid left in the pot by bringing it to a boil:

Until it was good and, uh, sludgy.

While the liquid was reducing to a tasty sauce, I sliced up the roast as thinly as possible:

Then tossed everything back together for a delicious dish:

Now. If you are a beef and broccoli aficionado, you will immediately doubt that this tastes just like Chinese-takeout-style beef and broccoli. And you’d be right – it’s a roast. So it tastes like an Asian-style roast with broccoli. There’s no amount of fancypants kitchening that will make it magically not a roast.

But! Was this a tasty alternative way to prepare a roast, during a season in which roasts are on sale but it’s not comfort-food time? Yes it was! And aside from the roast and broccoli, this was a “pantry meal” – meaning I had everything on hand: olive oil, sesame oil, garlic, salt, pepper, soy sauce, and red wine vinegar. Dat’s it!

Oh, and rice, of course.

If steak ever goes on super-sale, I’ll make real restaurant-style beef and broccoli, but for now, this is a fine alternative. Enjoy!