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I have recently developed this huge passion for cooking, even though I've been cooking since i was 15 and have been a chef for the last 10 years. I think I am addicted to it. Or am I addicted to eating my cooking? Either way, I want to share my experiences with whom ever is interested. That is why I started this blog. Currently I am self employed as a private/personal chef and a stay at home dad. I am very thankful to have ended my restaurant career not so long ago! It's a hard life, especially when your trying to raise a family! I live in Naples, Florida where I met my beautiful wife while working at a yacht club about 3 years ago. We now have a little 6 month old daughter and life as we know it has changed forever ( for the better)! There is something going on in the food world that is very exciting! People are starting to open their eyes a little. We're going back in time, back to the farm, back to the dinner table. Something that has to be done in my opinion. I spent a lot of time at the dinner table as a child and thought is was very beneficial in how I ended up. The thing I like best about being a chef is that I will never learn it all. Ever!

Thursday, March 4, 2010

What's the difference between Roast Beef and Pea Soup?

The answer to the question in the title is: Anybody can Roast Beef!  HA!  Funny right?  Pretty cheesy joke from way back.  Anyway, I roasted some beef today and wanted to share some info on it.  I bought a 3.5 pound top round roast at the store yesterday and on the price tag was some cooking directions.  It said: in a shallow roasting pan, put the roast, fat side up, into a 325 degree oven until the internal temperature of the meat reaches 145 degrees.  That's it.  That's all it said.  Okay, well I guess to someone who doesn't cook much, that might make sense.  Maybe that's the way the butcher does it?  There was absolutely no way I was going to do it that way!

The biggest thing to remember about roasting a large piece of meat is that you have to create a shell around the outside to hold in the juices.  No juices, no bueno!  How do I create a shell you say?  You have  to sear it, either in a smoking hot pan with a little bit of oil, or in a really hot oven!  The roasting pan I use (pictured above) is actually for a turkey but it works very well here.  Heat the oven to 425-450 degrees.  One thing that will help the roast cook evenly throughout is if you pull it out of the cooler about an hour before you cook it.  Just let it sit out on the counter with a paper towel over the top.
 Next, you want to season the roast liberally with kosher salt and fresh cracked black pepper.  You could also cut some slits in it and stick some garlic cloves in them or add other kinds of seasonings like fresh ground garlic and rosemary or even extra pepper.
 Another thing I highly recommend investing in is a probe thermometer.  This is a thermometer that stays in the meat while it is cooking and there is a wire connected from the thermometer to a hand held display unit.  There are many to choose from and many different price ranges.  I use one made by a company called Maverick.  It talks to me while my food is cooking.  This thermometer is pretty cheap and works really well.

  At this point you need to decide which is the thickest part of the roast and try to get the tip of the probe thermometer right in the middle of it.  I recommend going through the side of the roast rather than straight down through the top.

Now it is time to stick that bad boy in the oven and set your thermometer to your desired doneness.  Then you can go finish watching Oprah or Days of our Lives.  I like to keep the roast in the oven at 425 degrees for about 30-45 minutes to create that sear (shell) we talked about earlier.  Then I turn the oven down to 325-350 and just let it go low and slow.  This 3.75 pounder took about an hour and fifteen minutes to get a medium doneness.  One thing to remember is that the meat is going to keep cooking 10-15 minutes after you take it out of the oven.  So if you want a medium doneness I would pull it out at about 135-140 degrees.
While the meat roasts for the first 30 minutes I cut up some mirepoix to make an au jus!  What the &#$%@* is mirepoix and au jus you say?  Mirepoix is basically a mixture of celery, carrots and onions used to flavor soups, sauces and stews. Here I have 1 carrot, 2 celery ribs and half an onion.
 During the last thirty minutes or so, I will put the mirepoix in the bottom of the roasting pan.  There they will mingle with the juices and caramelize to create more flavor in the au jus.
Au jus basically translates to "natural juices".  As you can see there's not a whole lot of juices so I add chicken stock to boost it up.
Once your timer goes off, the beef needs to take a nap.  In other words, the juices inside are really moving around fast and if you were to cut into it ,right out of the oven, your juices would flow out like Niagara Falls.  You need to let this baby rest for at least 15 minutes.
While the meat is resting you can strain the au jus into a small sauce pan and remove any of the excess fat then season it to taste with salt and pepper.  It should be nice and dark, almost black. In the picture below you can see the fat on top.
Now its time to slice the roast beef, making sure to cut against the grain and that you have a really sharp knife to do it with.  I usually cut it directly in half to find out which way the grain goes.
Another thing that will make this beef sing would be some horseradish sour cream.  I think I will also have some roasted red potatoes, broccoli florets and maybe some carrots with my roast beef.  This is the kind of food I grew up on.  Until next time,

Eat, Drink, and be Happy

Chef Don Paleno

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