Roast Beef Tenderloin with Herbs & Garlic

IMG_9090Tenderloin of beef is a perfect go-to roast for special occasions. It is very easy to prepare, takes little time to roast, and carves beautifully. Yes, it is expensive, but when reserved for special occasions, is so worth it.

The tenderloin is the most tender of cuts. This muscle runs under the ribs next to the backbone of beef, and gets very little use, so remains tender. Even in an older animal who’s meat might be only be used for minced or stew, we try to reserve the tenderloin, which has amazing flavour, but is still tender. Unfortunately on-the-hoof aged tenderloin is hard to get (unless you raise beef).

The basic principal is that the more exercise a muscle gets, the more flavourful it is. So although very tender, the tenderloin benefits when treated to a rub or paste before roasting. Buy a roast that has had its fat and silver skin removed. It will have a long tip at one end, which you’ll be tying back to create a uniformly shaped roast. Continue reading

Guinness Braised Beef with Shallots & Mushrooms

IMG_6493When I get an idea for a recipe in my head, it tumbles around until the pieces get sorted.  It takes several tries to get it right, and sometimes it needs to be left alone for a long while, until something pops into my head to make it right.

Last year when we were in Oceanside, Washington, we had an amazing Guinness and beef soup.  It was delicious. But at the time, their fabulous Irish Soda Bread was what set my wheels turning, so the soup was relegated to a back shelf in my brain for the time being.

When our beef was cut this fall, we came home with several good-sized Eye of Round roasts.  They would be perfect for a large group dinner, so that idea was put on a shelf, maybe beside the Guinness soup, for thinking about later.

Knowing I would be cooking for a large Seniors Dinner in late February, I started “playing” with Guinness braised steaks sometime in January.  The length of time cooking, so that the steaks were tender, but not over done, took some tweaking.  The thickness of the sauce and its ratio to the steaks was important, as well.

It may not be a soup, but the soup definitely inspired the dish.  After eating more steaks than originally planned, here’s the recipe.  I suggest it be served with fluffy, buttery mashed potatoes. Continue reading

Shirley’s Family Meatloaf

IMG_5163This is real, old-school meatloaf.  It is the actual meatloaf mentioned in my sister’s 1993 movie The Lotus Eaters, and our family did take wax-paper wrapped packets of meatloaf sandwiches while sailing with our parents.  We probably ate this once or twice a month during the school year while growing up.  It is an ultimate comfort food in our home, usually served with baked potatoes, which cook in the oven alongside the loaf.

Several years ago I tried to replace the soup with a homemade thick & creamy mushroom stew, but even though I felt better about serving and eating it (the purist I am), condensed mushroom soup seems to be essential (the only reason I usually have a tin in my pantry).  Even using the tinned soup, this is a pretty healthy meat dish.

Who knows where this recipe came from, probably torn out of a newspaper sometime in the 1950’s?  Our family had lots of love but not lots of money, so thriftiness was instilled in us all, and I am sure this was one of Mom’s ways of stretching the food dollar.  This makes fabulous meatloaf sandwiches, and if memory serves me right, we used to be served this on a Friday night and then be fed it in sandwiches over the weekend.

If you want to up the amount of meat used to 2 lbs. the recipe still works well.  Just be sure that the internal temperature is 80° c before removing from the oven.

Also, if you want it to be gluten-free, you’ll need to be sure you use GF oats and GF condensed mushroom soup (Campbell’s isn’t).  Continue reading

Applesauce Topped Meatloaf

IMG_2749I plan to make this for our community’s next Senior’s Dinner.  It’s just as fun to serve them a Blue Plate Special, as it is a fancier meal.  This loaf’s added treat of a slightly sweet & sour applesauce topping, keeps it light.  It doesn’t need gravy, just a few brightly coloured vegetables to even out the plate.

Growing up we used to be served meat, a starch and one vegetable at six o’clock sharp.   It wasn’t until I was in my early teens, that I questioned this.  I presented a new idea to my mom, suggesting that meat is really just another side dish.  So perhaps we could serve two or three vegetables along with the meat and starch? This helped us move along into a more current way of eating, being mindful of our nutrition while still presenting the family with a feel good dinner.  Continue reading

Prime Rib Roast with Roasted Potatoes

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IMG_2335Raising our own beef has taught us how few specialty cuts one actually gets from an animal.  We’ve learned the anatomy, and where each cut comes from.  For instance if we want tenderloin, we need to give up Porterhouse steaks, and other choices are made all the way from sub-primal cuts to the final portioned cuts.  We are always trying to produce beef that is lean, but with marbling, a fine balance.  Our animals are ranging their whole lives, which helps keep them lean, but they need to have enough good quality feed and browse to keep their weights up without reducing the marbling.

When you have a side of beef in the freezer, you are more mindful of what you eat, as a specialty cut is exactly that, special!  These are the cuts that are from the least used muscles.  They are fabulous from more mature animals, as they become more flavourful as the animal itself ages. Because of the small portion of these cuts when compared to the “lesser” cuts, they do tend to be saved for special occasions.

When cooking these treats, we want to be sure they are as tasty as possible, so need to follow tried and true methods.  Regardless of the weight of the prime rib roast, this recipe works.  We’ve used it for 3 rib, 4 rib and full racks: as well as roasts from 200 lb sides to 250 lb sides.  It always works.  Be sure you know how you want your roast done before you start.  I usually cook medium-rare, as it gives a bit of everything for a group.  The photos are from a small 4 rib roast, enough for 4 servings.  As well, this was cut from a smaller than usual side, producing a smaller roast.  I would suggest that you count on 1 lb per 1⅓ servings when purchasing a roast. Continue reading