Thursday, January 01, 2009

New Year's Roast

I bought some black-eyed peas and cabbage, but somehow couldn't bring myself to make it tonight, knowing the boys won't eat either. So I'll subject them to this traditional holiday meal some time this weekend. Instead, we welcomed in the new year with my new favorite roast.

I think the secret ingredient here (besides, you know, a good cut of beef) is coffee. My friend David, a magnificent cook, once explained to me that he uses coffee in all of his marinades because it opens up the meat cells so it stays tender, or some such thing that is now a blur thanks to his partner's magnificent Cosmopolitans. But my vague remembrance of the conversation is coffee + meat = good.

Unlike other recipes I've tried in the past, this one really does produce a juicy, delicious roast. Tommy, who often subsists on three pretzels and a spoonful of yogurt, asked for seconds before I had finished cutting Sylvia's beets into tiny pieces.

The basic recipe comes from a cookbook I found at my mom's house: Cooking from Quilt Country, which the good people at Amazon tell me is now out of print but available pretty cheaply used. The author, Marcia Adams, notes that the frugal and clever Amish found a good use for leftover morning coffee. I generally find a use for this extra coffee, as well, but it usually involves some half-and-half and a fourth cup. But that's another post.

Tommy's Favorite Roast

A roast (Marcia suggests a 3-pounder, but our local farmer usually puts them in about 1.5 pound lots)
1 Tbsp. olive oil
1/4 cup soy sauce
1 cup coffee
2 crumbled bay leaves
A couple garlic cloves, minced
About 1/2 tsp. dried herbs (I used Dean & Deluca's Herbs for Meat)
2 sliced onions

Preheat the oven to 300 degrees.

In a Dutch oven, heat the oil over medium heat and brown the meat. (Here's the Dutch oven I've pledged my love to 'til death do us part.) Set the meat on a platter for a second.

Mix up everything else except one of the onions and pour it into the Dutch oven. Set the meat on top. Top with the other sliced onion. Cover and bake for anywhere from 2-1/2 to 4 hours, depending on the size of the roast, marinating every hour or so. My 1.5-pounder took around 2-1/2 hours. The roast should be in quite a bit of liquid, so if it dries out while it's baking, pour in another cup of coffee and a generous splash of soy sauce.

To serve it, I move the roast on a platter, put the onions in a separate bowl (the boys won't eat them and turn into drama queens if any appear on the roast), and pour a spoonful or so of the liquid on the roast.

Happy New Year!

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