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Dec 25

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The Holiday Beef Roast

On Christmas some Americans will have a turkey for the family dinner. Others families enjoy ham and still others may have roast duck or goose. The tradition in my home has always been to have a beef roast. If we are hosting a large group a rib roast is often preferred. Roasting a rib section of beef provides extra drippings in the pan if you intend to prepare Yorkshire Pudding. In the U.K. Yorkshire Pudding is a traditional accompaniment to a beef roast. While I do enjoy Yorkshire Pudding, I don’t need the extra calories especially at this time of year. If you are expecting fewer than 5 guests a good alternative to a rib roast is a boneless strip loin roast. Using a rib for roasting will cost more. Bone is heavy and at current prices of near $10 per pound it is costly as well! I prefer the rib roast for flavor but for the smaller dinner party the strip loin has much less waste and is still a very fine cut of meat. If you are set on having a rib roast but don’t want the bone, you can order what is known as a Spencer Roast or Boneless Rib Eye. Here is a chart to help you find your way around a beef steer.

Whichever cut of meat you choose for roasting be sure to season it well with plenty of salt, freshly ground black pepper, crushed and peeled garlic cloves and any herb combination you choose. The garlic may be made into a paste and spread over the fat cap. Or you may prefer to break the cloves of garlic into chunks and make several very small incisions in the fat cap. Insert the chunks of garlic into these small slits and they will permeate the roast with a robust garlic flavor! Fresh or dried herbs that are traditionally used when seasoning beef are thyme, oregano or marjoram and basil. I prefer marjoram over oregano, but many people are not familiar with this herb. Marjoram is sweeter, more fragrant (very herbal) and less hot than oregano. Simple is better when seasoning a large joint of meat. A quality piece of meat, cooked properly should speak for itself. However, sometimes a little extra kick to the flavor is good too! One premixed seasoning available in many stores is called Montreal steak seasoning….or you can make your own. There are many different versions of this steak seasoning. Some add exotic ingredients such as coriander and tamarind, so you may consider trying it first on a smaller piece of meat to see if you really like it, before adding it to a large and expensive roast for a special occasion.

Some roasting instructions here and here. Or you can use this rule of thumb; for boneless beef approximately 20 minutes per pound to achieve a medium-rare degree of done-ness. With the bone in about 30 minutes per pound for medium-rare. Remember that carry-over cooking will occur after the roast is removed from the heat.

With the roast as the main dish we usually have a potato item; mashed, oven roasted or one of my favorites;

Scalloped Potatoes

Ingredients:

2 #’s of peeled russet potatoes

butter

1 large shallot minced

1 1/2 cups heavy cream

3/4 cup grated cheese (Cheddar, Gouda, Edam, Greyer, etc.)

1/4 teaspoon grated nutmeg

1 1/2 teaspoons marjoram

salt & pepper

Method:

Butter an 8 inch X 8 inch ovenware dish.

Peel, and slice the potatoes (about 1/8th of an inch thick) A kitchen mandolin is very useful for this.

Layer the potato slices in an overlapping pattern to cover the bottom of the cooking dish.

Season each layer with S&P, nutmeg and marjoram (if marjoram is not available, oregano is the next best thing or thyme, or basil can be substituted) and some of the shallots and grated cheese. After layering about half of the spuds, pour half of the cream over the entire ensemble and continue until all the ingredients are used. Top off with the last of the heavy cream and the cheese.

Cover and place into an oven that has been preheated to 375 degrees F. Bake for a little over an hour and remove the cover to finish (another 10 minutes) browning off the top.

Test the potatoes with a knife. The potatoes should be tender not crunchy. Let them stand for 10 minutes before cutting portions.

Serve a section of these potatoes with thin slices of the beef and freshly cooked vegetables.

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2012 Christmas wines

This year we shared a Vintage 2000, Bordeaux

Ch. Yon-Figeac, St. Emilion Grand Cru

A very fine claret from one of the great wine regions of the world. In my opinion, 10 years of aging in the bottle is a minimum for Grand Cru Classe wine. Anything less would only cheat the wine of its true potential.

wine notes: read more about wine tasting here.

The cork- The cork was still moist, but had a heavy musty scent and slight bit of mildew on top.

Nose- A bit musty with big wood even after decanting. The scent of oak is very powerful and can be an indication of how long this wine is expected to last.

Color- Deep dark ruby. The wine did throw a bit of sediment for only 12 years.

Body- Medium body wine.

Taste- The fruit seems hidden under all the oak of this wine. I am not sure if it will show through after several more years of aging. The wine is big on tannin and there are undertones of berry-currant with hints of tobacco.

Aftertaste- This wine stood up to plenty of garlic on the roast and well seasoned potatoes. The aftertaste carried on through the meal and the wine opened up significantly over the 5 hours from decanting to the finish of the meal. It will be interesting to see how the 2nd bottle shows in 6 – 10 years.

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