Sunday, April 15, 2012

Italian Roast Beef with Tomatoes and Kalamata Olives, Take 2


A brief "thinking outloud on the blog" session regarding beef grades recently had enlightened me. Maybe the tougher roast beef I've made were because of the grade of beef I was starting with. A hunk of Choice beef in hand, it was time to revisit one of those roast beef recipes I suspected would turn out better than my previous attempt.

If I really wanted to do this second take appropriately, I would've limited the variables to one, the beef: USDA Choice versus unlabeled, likely USDA Select beef. As it was, I inadvertantly made changes right from the very beginning by starting with a different pot, not realizing until after I got started that I didn't even have the Lodge Dutch oven when I made this beef the first time. Then it was wine instead of beef broth and "homemade" pureed tomatoes instead of a purchased tomato puree. If I really wanted to do this right, I would not have made it the same weekend I made a lasagna so I would be more focused.

The results though. Totally worth it.

Italian Roast Beef with Tomatoes and Kalamata Olives
adapted from Cooking Club of America
click to print

1 (2 1/2- to 3-lb.) boneless beef chuck roast
2 tsp coarse salt, divided
1/2 tsp black pepper, divided
2 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
1 c chopped onion
1 tbsp minced garlic
187 mL red wine
1 (28-oz.) can tomato puree
2 bay leaves
1/4 c packed chopped fresh basil
1 tsp dried oregano
Dash crushed red pepper
1/2 c halved pitted Kalamata olives

Sprinkle beef with 1 teaspoon of the salt and 1/4 teaspoon of the black pepper.

Heat large pot or Dutch oven over medium heat until hot. Add oil; heat until hot.

Cook beef 10 to 12 minutes or until browned on all sides. Remove beef; cover loosely with foil.
Ouch! I let the first side brown a few minutes too long.

Cook onion in same pot over medium-low heat 8 to 10 minutes or until soft and golden brown, stirring occasionally. Add garlic; cook and stir 30 to 60 seconds or until fragrant.

Add wine; increase heat to medium-high. Boil 1 minute.

Add tomato puree, bay leaves, basil, oregano, crushed red pepper and remaining 1 teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon black pepper.

Bring to a boil. Reduce heat to medium-low to low; simmer 15 minutes.

Return beef and any accumulated juices to pot; cook, covered, 1 1/2 to 2 hours or until beef is fork-tender, adjusting heat as necessary to maintain a gentle simmer.
In the pot, baked 1 hour, and baked 2 hours.

Look at that orange fat. Ick.

Remove beef; cover loosely with foil. (Beef can be made 1 day ahead. Cover and refrigerate. Reheat before serving.) Allow the meat and sauce to cool to room temperature before covering and refrigerating.

Skim the cold orange fat from the sauce.

Warm on the stove-top. Once the sauce loosens up, remove the beef and set aside, warming it in the oven if you're ready to eat.

Add olives to sauce; increase heat to medium.

Boil, uncovered, 10 minutes or until slightly reduced and thickened. (Sauce can be made 1 day ahead. Cover and refrigerate. Reheat before serving.) Slice beef; top with sauce. Or shred the beef, and sandwich it between bread slices.

After eating lasagna and a bunch of zucchini bars, the idea of eating a big meal of roast beef wasn't something I was dying to do. Hence, the lack of a decent finishing image. But let me tell you, when I did make my roast beef sandwich (with nothing but beef and sauce), I was really happy with the turnout.

The beef was much more tender than it was the first time I tried this recipe. The difference was dramatic, so I'll be sure to look for the more marbled from those at the market. But the sauce had to be 10 times better than before and I have to chalk it up to fond and alcohol. My older Dutch oven is non-stick and rarely did I ever get the nice brown bits stuck to the bottom which had to be deglazed from the pot. Wine simply adds such a fantastic flavor, it almost seems wrong to use broth.

  • boneless beef chuck roast: $7.40
  • extra-virgin olive oil: $0.08
  • onion: $0.44
  • garlic: $0.20
  • red wine: $1.50
  • tomato puree: $1.49
  • fresh basil: $1.76
  • Kalamata olives: $1, SWAG
Total: $13.87 or $2.31 for each of six servings.