Friday, December 30, 2011
THE PERFECT ROAST (and a nod to Frank & Mary)
It was hectic week and weekend leading up to Christmas. A positively enormous Feast of the Seven Fishes dinner at the home of our friends, the Attanasis in Cranford, NJ (more on that soon, with pictures!), the last-minute rush to wrap presents, the annual Xmas Beer Mix get-together at the Grey Lodge (more on that also with pics) and new physical therapy for my leg and knee woes thrown in for good measure.
Ben and Sophie came down with godawful, stay-in-bed kinds of colds on Christmas day, so it was a quieter-than-usual morning opening presents, having breakfast and trying top keep spirits light. It made for a slow moving, lazy day kind of Christmas. Dinner was a simple affair, a beautiful eye round roast, some mashed potatoes and some fresh string beans. But the reason for my post is to tell you about the new way I found to roast the eye round.
Normally, I rub the eye round with a mixture of sea salt, ground pepper and dried herbs and roast the beef at a high temperature, 425 degrees for 20 min. a pound. It has always produced a dark crust and pink interior, depending on the diameter of the roast.
On Christmas Day, as the kids napped, I surfed the web and Googled "eye round roast recipes" just to find variations on my method. The top result recipe was "High Temperature Eye-of_Round Roast" and came with a sub-paragraph that boldly proclaimed it to be "the easiest roast you'll ever cook!" OK, they had me.
Pretty simple stuff, really. This is the recipe, from allrecipes.com:
1 (3 pound) beef eye of round roast
salt and pepper to taste
Preheat the oven to 500 degrees F (260 degrees C). Season the roast with salt and pepper and place in a roasting pan or baking dish. Do not cover or add water.
Place the roast in the preheated oven. Reduce the temperature to 475 degrees F (245 degrees C). Roast for 21 minutes (seven minutes per pound) then turn off the oven and let the roast sit in the hot oven for 2 1/2 hours. Do not open the door at all during this time!
Remove the roast from the oven, the internal temperature should have reached at least 145 degrees F (65 degrees C). Carve into thin slices to serve.
With all due respect to allrecipes.com and Lyn B., who posted the actual recipe, I remember Mary Jelinek, who for years hosted a food talk show with her husband Frank over the Philadelphia airwaves (WWDB,WCAU and WPEN), frequently suggesting this type of high temperature roasting for beef to callers of the show, with a stern warning: "Do NOT open that oven door for any reason until the timer goes off!" It was a popular recipe on the show over the years, and the Jelineks regularly received calls about how perfect a recipe it was. I add myself to the chorus of praise.
It sliced beautifully into gorgeous, rosy slices, just a bit pinker than the photo above. Made a simple red wine reduction sauce from the drippings, but the meat was so juicy and flavorful, it didn't need it. Force of habit with the gravy thing, I think.
This would make an elegant presentation at a dinner party, arrayed on a platter on a buffet, or peeking out of a baguette or kaiser roll with some mustard and horseradish.
Now I have a recipe to remind me of Frank and Mary Jelinek, whom I got to know well in the late 80s and early 90s, first through the popularity of my original Dangerous Dining Club (they attended a couple of the dinners and always promoted the club every month when they received their invites to the next dinner), and later when I was doing the PR for the Adam's Mark Hotel and later The Bellevue. Such sweet and gracious people. I miss them dearly.
But now I have a way to remember them.