Roast Beef with Mushroom-Brandy Sauce

I had been pretty apathetic about Thanksgiving until the last day or two; now I’m beginning to look forward to it, if for no other reason than I get five days off from work.  Yes, I’ll spend two of those days cooking, but I don’t mind – I won’t have to cook Friday, which will be nice.  The Saturday after Thanksgiving is always the day we decorate the house for Christmas, and this year we’re having The G Man over to help.  He’s never seen Meema’s Santa and snowman collection, or our upside-down Christmas tree, and I think he’ll have a good time.  I know I will.

In the meantime, I have a backlog of quite a few recipes to choose from, and had a dickens of a time deciding which one to post today.  In the end, I decided on this one – it’s a really lovely special-occasion type of meal, and while it looks long and involved, it’s really not.  You slow-roast an eye of round roast (or roast of your choice), and make a mushroom-brandy sauce to serve over it.

A delicious mushroom-brandy sauce, if I do say so.

At any rate, I thought it might be a nice option to have for those who prefer a more non-traditional main course for Thanksgiving; it would also make a very nice Christmas Eve or Christmas night dinner, too.   I served this with a puree of purple cauliflower, which was just so pretty, and some glazed carrots – it was a very nice, very tasty dinner, worthy of a holiday table.

Roast Beef with Mushroom-Brandy Sauce
Roast Beef with Mushroom-Brandy Sauce
Roast Beef with Mushroom-Brandy Sauce

Serves: 6
  • 2 1/2 pound eye of round roast
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon fresh thyme, finely chopped
  • 2 teaspoons coarse kosher salt
  • 2 cloves garlic, finely minced
  • Sauce
  • 2 tablespoons ghee or clarified butter, divided
  • 8 ounces white button mushrooms, sliced
  • 1/2 small onion, very thinly sliced
  • 1/4 cup brandy, divided
  • 1/2 cup coconut milk or half and half
  • 2 tablespoons tapioca flour
  • 1 cup beef stock, preferably homemade
  • Salt and pepper, to taste
  1. Preheat oven to 400 F.
  2. Rub the roast with the olive oil, thyme, salt, pepper and garlic. Place roast on a vented roasting pan and set in the middle of the oven; roast at 400 F for 20 minutes, then turn the oven off and open the door, leaving the roast
  3. in the oven for 5 to 7 minutes.
  4. Place the probe of an oven safe meat thermometer into the center of the roast; take care that it is not touching bone, fat or gristle. Close the door and set the oven to 200 F. Continue roasting until the thermometer reaches 130 F for rare or 140 F for medium rare. Remove the roast from the oven and loosely tent with foil; allow to rest for at least 15 minutes before carving.
  5. While the roast is in the oven, heat 1 tablespoon of the ghee in a large skillet over medium-high heat and, taking care not to crowd them, cook the mushrooms until golden brown. Remove with a slotted spoon and set aside.
  6. Add the remaining tablespoon of ghee to the skillet and reduce the heat to medium low. Cook the onions, stirring frequently, until they are golden brown and beginning to caramelize, 15 to 20 minutes.
  7. Increase the heat under the skillet to medium and return the mushrooms to the pan; add 2 tablespoons of brandy and stir for 20 seconds. Add the coconut milk or half and half and cook, stirring constantly, until almost all of the liquid is absorbed, about 3 minutes.
  8. Sprinkle the mushroom mixture with the tapioca flour and stir to coat; add the remaining brandy to the pan. Increase the heat to high and stir in the beef stock; bring to a boil, stirring constantly, then reduce the heat to medium and simmer until slightly thickened, about 5 minutes. Taste, and season as needed with salt and pepper.
  9. Serve the mushroom-brandy sauce over the thinly sliced roast beef.
  10. Nutrition (per serving): 384 calories, 16.5g total fat, 95.1mg cholesterol, 830.6mg sodium, 911.8mg potassium, 5.9g carbohydrates, <1g fiber, 1.3g sugar, 45.5g protein


Thanksgiving Menu, 2012 Edition

I was going to do a huge rant today about Mayor Michael Bloomerg’s latest idiocy –  he has now banned donations to NYC homeless shelters because the city can’t monitor the fat, sodium and sugar content of the food being donated – but I just don’t have the energy.  And I’m afraid my head will explode in the process.  (If you’re not worried about your head exploding, click the link; you’ll just be amazed.  And, I hope, appalled.)

So in the interest of keeping my brains intact – my laptop, after all, is practically brand-new and I hear exploded brains are a bitch to clean up – I’ll swagger a little instead and tell you that The Young One, who made the honor roll the first grading period this year, has already been accepted to the university of his choice, Kent State.  (I do my best, every time he mentions it, not to start singing, “Tin soldiers and Nixon coming, we’re finally on our own. This summer I hear the drumming, four dead in O-hi-o…”  Thank you, Neil Young.)  It looks like there might be some sort of a scholarship in all of this, too.

I’m proud of the boy.  Especially because it got him to call his grandmother without being nagged.

At any rate, while I was talking to Darling Daughter last night about her Thanksgiving plans, my own menu finally came together.  And since I post it every year, well…here you are.  I’ve linked to recipes I’ve posted before.

The Turkey From Hell.  Needless to say, our turkeys are now pastured and the wheat flour used for the roasting bag has been replaced with tapioca flour, but other than that, the recipe is essentially the same.  I’ll probably make some giblet gravy to go with it, using tapioca flour, since Beloved loves it so.

Fermented Cranberry-Orange Chutney.  Because I’m absolutely in love with it and have an entire quart in my fridge and isn’t that convenient?

My Grandmother’s Cornbread Dressing.  I found a recipe on the internet that is very close to my own for gluten-free cornbread, using alternative flours rather than wheat flour, which it claims is indistinguishable from the “real thing.”  Since I cannot imagine Thanksgiving dinner without cornbread dressing, I’m making it, enjoying it, and giving the leftovers away.  Well, most of them, anyway.

Bourbon Molasses Sweet Potatoes with Buttered Pecans.  I haven’t made this for two or three years, but it’s just a marvelous dish.  Beloved really likes it, and so do I, so it’s back on the menu.  I’ll either skip the brown sugar or substitute it with evaporated cane juice.

Roasted Garlic White Cheddar Mashed Potatoes.  The Young One does not care for cornbread dressing or sweet potatoes – don’t ask me; the kid is just odd – so I will make this as well.  Gladly, actually, since they are the best mashed potatoes I’ve ever eaten.  (I will probably buy him some of those brown-and-serve rolls he’s so fond of, too – it is, after all, also his Thanksgiving dinner.)

Balsamic Glazed Brussels Sprouts with Pancetta.  This is an absolutely delicious dish guaranteed to convert even the most adamant Brussels sprout hater.  It’s also quite easy, and the pancetta and balsamic give it that “special occasion dish” aura.  My good friend Gretchen makes this every year, too.

Gluten-Free Apple Crisp.  Because, Holy Mother of Pearl, it was good.  VERY, VERY GOOD.

Crustless Lemon Chess Pie.  I can thank Darling Daughter for this one; she is going to bake a pie to take to the Thanksgiving dinner she’s going to, and when I suggested her great-grandmother’s Pumpkin Pie (which is simply the best pumpkin pie recipe in existence).  She said she’d done that last year, and thought she’d bake a lemon chess pie instead.  I gasped – it simply hadn’t occurred to me – and said, “You know…I could make that without a crust.  In individual ramekins, even, like a brulee.”  I glanced over to my left, and saw Beloved vigorously nodding his head YES.  I don’t know if I’ll go ahead and use white sugar in it, or evaporated cane juice just so I can feel a little bit better about all the sugar, carbohydrates and dairy I’ll be consuming that day.  But whatever I do, I’ll post the recipe afterwards, because Lemon Chess Pie, with or without a crust, is a thing of beauty.

So that’s it.  Nothing excessive – trust me, I’ve done excessive in the past, and probably would be again this year if I were going to have a houseful – but fancy, and satisfying, enough for the holiday.

What are you doing for Thanksgiving?  If you’re cooking it yourself and follow a certain way of eating, such as paleo, will you try to keep your dinner in line with your diet, or will you throw caution to the wind and make some favorite traditional dishes because it just wouldn’t be Thanksgiving without them?

Trick or Treat Has Obviously Become Passe

The fun has been sucked right out of Halloween, all in the name of “safety.”  Kids trick or treat in the middle of the afternoon on the weekend before Halloween, if it falls on a weekday.  Or they trick or treat at the mall – there were kids trick-or-treating in our local grocery store last week, for crying out loud.  Some parents take it even further, if Alton Brown was to be believed on Good Morning, America today, and don’t let their kids trick or treat at all – they have a party and call it good.

I’m certainly not in favor of letting kids eat twelve tons of refined sugar, given a boost by carcinogenic artificial food colors, but this is Halloween, for crying out loud – is it so wrong to let your kids trick or treat (chaperoned by an adult, of course) on the evening of the actual holiday?  I’ll be 50 years old in December, and neither I nor anyone I’ve ever met has ever received an apple with a razor blade in it, or been carried off by a psychopath.  In fact, with the single exception of a child who was poisoned by his own parent for the insurance money (and that happened many, many years ago), I’ve never heard of any of the bad things that people seem so frightened of ever happening while trick-or-treating.

At any rate, I’ve resigned myself to the fact that Halloween, the scariest of all holidays, has been robbed of it’s bite, so to speak.  We haven’t had a child young enough to actually go trick-or-treating in many years and stopped giving out candy when we changed our diet two years ago.  But now there’s The G Man and his mom, who is VERY big on childhood traditions (and good for her!).  She, too, mourns the passing of the time honored tradition of trick-or-treating the evening of Halloween, so when she couldn’t find a neighborhood within driving distance that actually did it, she at least found one where they did it in the evening between 6 p.m. and 8 p.m., even if it was the Saturday before.

We didn’t go – both of us are working on big projects, Beloved for the business and me on a personal one – but here is a pic of our little trick-or-treater, who stopped by Meema and Poppa’s house before embarking on his sugar-laden yearly tradition:

G Man and the Neverland Pirates
G Man and the Neverland Pirates

Yup – that would be our little rough-and-tumble bundle of joy dressed up as Jake from the Disney Jr. show, Jake and the Neverland Pirates.  (If you haven’t seen it, you don’t know WHAT you’re missing.)

With the exception of the time Meema made a gargantuan mistake and bought G a ring pop while we were out running errands one Saturday morning (you wouldn’t believe a kid could bounce off the sides of a moving vehicle while strapped in a car seat, but he managed it), we simply don’t give him crap.  We really don’t have to, because he loves things like fruit, cheese and nuts, so that’s what he gets as “treats” at our house.  Now, having said that, we did give him a handful of gold foil-wrapped chocolate coins when he stopped by to show off his costume, for what is a pirate without gold doubloons?

At any rate, we wish we’d gone with them, for Jolly told us that The G Man had a bit of trouble with the whole “trick or treat” concept.  Perhaps he simply thinks it’s rude, because instead of running up to houses and shouting, “Trick or Treat!” he held out his bag and politely said, “Please, may I have some candy?  Thank you!”

I’m buying him an ascot for Christmas.

For more Halloween Show and Tell posts, run over and visit Gretchen and the Spin Cycle at Second Blooming.  She may not have candy, but I hear she makes a wicked martini.

The Spoils of the Holidays

And by “holidays” I mean my birthday (December 22), Christmas, and our anniversary (January 2).

It’s okay – after 49 years, I’m used to it.

But anyhoo, here’s what I got:

Starting at the bottom left and going clockwise:  Michael Symon’s Live to Cook and the Joy of Cooking for my birthday; spice grinder and meat grinder for Christmas; the Essential Pepin and Hunt, Gather, Cook cookbook for our anniversary.

You know you’re jealous.

The spice and meat grinders work really well – I’m thrilled with both.  I’ve already written about Joy, and Michael Symon’s book is interesting, as well (the Braised Pork Belly I posted Monday was based on a recipe in Live to Cook and a couple of others I found online).  I haven’t had much chance to peruse Hunt, Gather, Cook yet, although I’m willing to bet it’s going to be fascinating; it was written by Hank Shaw, author of the blog Hunter, Angler, Gardner, Cook.  As you might guess, Hank hunts, fishes, grows and forages as much of his food as he can and his blog is as interesting and informative as it is aesthetically pleasing.  Oh, and he was a James Beard Award nominee for Best Food Blog in both 2009 and 2010.

I’m sort of leaving Hank’s book for last, if for no other reason than Beloved has taken an interest in it (in fact, he found the blog and ordered me the book) and am working my way through the Essential Pepin.  I don’t know how I’d overlooked Jacques Pepin for so long – I mean, I knew who he was, naturally, but I’d never really paid much attention to him, which is really a shame.  His recipes are beautiful without being overly complicated, and I am slowly working my way through it front to back, marking many I want to try. Yes, even with my wonky diet, I can cook from “mainstream” cookbooks.

All in all, I’m pretty pleased with my haul.  What did Santa bring you this year?