It is hard to point to the high point of eating fine beef, but a safe bet would be that moment you taste buds meet the crispy seared exterior and the tender juicy interior together. When you’re talking about roast beef, a big cut of beef that is roasted in the oven, a true carnivore will want his dish accompanied by sharp mustard, a tomato sliced in half and sprinkled with coarse salt, a sour pickle, and some horseradish sauce.
These will satisfy the palate’s every whim, and all that remains is to sip a good red wine and confess that life is beautiful.
It's easy to make roast beef: The rules are simple but they must be followed meticulously, in proper order, preferably without taking any short cuts. The perfect cut for roast beef is sirloin (called sinta in Hebrew), which is taken from the rear part of the cow, adjacent to the ribs that wrap around the fillet. The cut must be fresh, but aged for two to three weeks. Frozen beef won't cut it. Ask the butcher for a cut of properly marbled sirloin from a primiparous cow (a cow that has given birth once; its flesh is tender and not too fatty), with a thin layer of fat on the top.
Two hours before roasting, take the beef out of the so it can reach room temperature. In the meantime, massage the meat thoroughly with olive oil. Preheat the oven to 250 degrees C at least half an hour before you plan on putting the meat in the oven. The initial blast of heat is critical. The high temperature sears the beef, which acts as a seal on the outside and prevents the juices from oozing out.
For the roasting process it is a good idea to buy an analog thermometer that is heat-resistant up to 300 degrees C (it costs NIS 50-70). Before roasting, you stick the thermometer into the center of the beef cut: For rare, the thermometer should reach 55 degrees C; for medium-rare – 60 degrees C; and for medium – 65 C. If you don't have a meat thermometer, you can just touch the beef to figure out how ready it is: when rare, it is soft and offers weak resistance; when well-roasted, the resistance is strong. The average roasting time is 35 minutes. Make sure you check because the time varies from one cut to another and from one oven to another. Small cuts are roasted at a higher temperature to shorten the process and prevent the beef from getting dried out.
Lay the beef directly on an oven rack, not a roasting pan, in the center of the oven. On the bottom of the oven (not touching the rack) place an oven dish lined with baking paper, and fill with 1 cup of water to absorb the gravy and drippings. The baking paper and water will keep the fat from burning while roasting. A simple seasoning of black pepper (fresh!) is best. You can also coat the top part of the beef in honey or mustard and add a few rosemary branches.
When done, take the roast out of the oven and tent with aluminum foil for 20 minutes. Allowing the beef to rest causes the outer layer to cool and harden, so that most of the flavorful juices will seep into the center and not leak out.
The carving is done in front of guests, with a very sharp knife. The ends will be more well-done than the center slices. Leftovers make terrific sandwiches, or can be used for carpaccio. You can also turn leftovers into roast beef hash, a traditional American dish that is made by chopping or shredding the beef and frying it up in a pan with cubed or mashed boiled potatoes, often served as a breakfast dish topped with an egg.
While at the slaughter, cows release amino acids that cause their muscles to tighten. In order for the beef you eat to be tender, these acids have to be broken down in an aging process. Good germs that collect during the aging period break down the acids and thereby tenderize the beef. The process generally takes place at the butcher, inside a frost-free cold storage room that is kept at a controlled temperature of between 0 and 2 degrees C.
First, the butcher will hang the meat in its entirety on a hook so it can age equally on all sides. Then he will butcher it into cuts, and depending on each individual cut, continue the aging for a specific span of time. Beef loses 20 percent of its weight during aging, making for a more concentrated flavor. This also explains why it costs more than fresh beef.
Classic roast beef
Ingredients (6-8 servings):
2 kg sirloin, nicely marbled with a thin layer of fat on top
1/2 cup olive oil
1/4 cup black peppercorns, coarsely ground
1.5 teaspoons coarse salt
3 rosemary branches
4 tablespoons runny honey
Garnish: olive oil, Atlantic salt, ground black pepper, tomato, pickle, and mustard
Two hours before roasting, take the sirloin out of the fridge. Massage with olive oil, place on an oven rack with the fatty side up. Press black pepper into the layer of fat, sprinkle with salt and drizzle honey. Lay rosemary branches on top. Preheat the oven to 250 degrees C at least 30 minutes ahead of time. Place a roasting pan lined with baking paper on the bottom of the oven and pour in 1 cup of water. Place the rack with the sirloin in the center of the oven and roast for 20 minutes. Lower the temperature to 170 degrees C and roast 10 minutes. Turn off the oven and leave the beef inside for 5 minutes (if you prefer your meat medium, leave it in for 10 minutes). Take the roast beef out of the oven, tent with aluminum foil, and leave it to rest for 20 minutes before carving. Drizzle with olive oil, season with salt and pepper, and serve with mustard, sliced tomato, sour pickle, and black bread on the side.
Roast beef sandwich
When roasting beef that is intended for sandwiches or cold carpaccio, it is best to stop at the cooking process at rare, so the beef remains succulent and moist.
Fresh loaf of black bread
Slices of roast sirloin, rare
Mustard or horseradish sauce
Spread mustard on a slice of bread, arrange thin slices of sirloin, pile the vegetables on top, and serve either open-faced or closed.
Roast beef carpaccio
Ingredients (2 servings):
6 thin slices of roast sirloin, rare
2 radishes sliced into thin coins
6 cherry tomatoes, sliced in half
Handful arugula leaves
Hot pepper, sliced into rings
1 teaspoon reduced balsamic vinegar
1 tablespoon olive oil
Arrange the slices of sirloin on a flat plate. Sprinkle the plate with radishes, tomatoes, arugula, and hot pepper. Season with olive oil, balsamic vinegar, salt and pepper. Grate Parmesan cheese over everything and eat immediately with bread and soft butter on the side.
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