Week 19: The Roast with the Most
As you all have likely noticed by now, the peach trees that stood directly outside the barn have been cleared. There was a sentimental attachment to these trees because they were the first ones planted back in 1997 when the Moutoux family took over the property. A peach tree has a lifespan of 10-20 years and these had been declining in health over the last several years. Although the tough decision was made to cut the trees, it will bring with it upgrades and changes in the coming years. First up, renovations to the barn! Slated to begin this fall, improvements to the barn will help winterize and weatherproof while adding a loft for storage.
This week we are diving into beef roasts! With cooler weather on the horizon, there is something warm and comforting about a slow-cooked roast or braised beef stew. Without going too deep into the skilled trade of butchery, having a basic knowledge of beef cuts will improve your cooking skills in the kitchen. Hope you all enjoy this week's post The Roast with the Most.
The USDA divides a cow into eight regions. These are known as the primal cuts, or the main cuts. There are 8 primal beef cuts: brisket, chuck, flank, loin, rib, round, shank and short plate. After the primal cuts, beef gets divided into sub-primal cuts. A butcher often times starts with a sub-primal cut, and they get cut into the individual sizes we see in the CSA freezers. The last type of cut is the portion cut, which are the ones you eat. They are packaged into steaks, roasts, ribs, etc.
Brisket: The brisket is the steer’s breast. Brisket is usually tough and contains a substantial amount of fat. However, it is tenderized with a marinade or rub and cooked low and slow. An ideal cut for cooking low and slow on the barbecue or in a slow cooker. Primarily used for barbecue, corned beef and pastrami.
Chuck: Chuck meat comes from the cow’s shoulder which is a heavily used muscle, so it can be tough. However, it is a very flavorful and economical cut.
Flank: The flank is located below the loin. It has no bones and very flavorful but also very tough.
Loin: The loin is where the most expensive cuts of beef come from. The loin is located at the top of the steer directly behind the rib, and because it is not a heavily used muscle, it is tender.
Rib: Ribs are made up of the cow’s ribs and backbone. There are 13 pairs of ribs, There are 13 pairs of ribs, but only the last section (6-12) are in the primal section of the ribs. The others are in the chuck primal. Ribs have lots of flavor and marbling.
Round: The round is a lean and inexpensive cut. It is found at the cow’s rump and hind legs. Muscles in this area are used for movement, so the beef is leaner and less tender.
Shank: The shank is located on the animals forearm in front of the brisket. It is one of the toughest cuts. The shank is often used for stews and soups because of its toughness.
Short Plate: The short plate is the other source of the ribs. It is found near the abdomen, and it’s fattier.
Roasts offer simple, low prep, flavorful options for putting meals on the table. As you can see in the table below, all of the beef roasts we get from Moutoux Orchard lend themselves to oven-roasting, braising, and/or pot roast. Side note: Pot roast isn’t really a specific cut of meat, it is more of a method. Take a big cut of tough beef, brown it if you can, then cover and slow cook it with aromatics and liquid (stock, broth, wine, or water) until meltingly tender.
BEEF STEW WITH CARROTS & POTATOES
Chuck roast, 3 lbs cut into 1.5 inch pieces
2 tsp salt
1 tsp fresh ground black pepper
3 Tbsp olive oil or tallow
2 medium onions, cut into 1 inch chunks
7 cloves garlic, peeled and smashed
2 Tbsp balsamic vinegar
1.5 Tbsp tomato paste
1/4 cup flour
2 cups dry red wine (inexpensive pinot noir, merlot, cabernet sauvignon)
2 cups beef broth
2 cups water
1 bay leaf
1/2 tsp drief thyme
1.5 tsp sugar
4 large carrots, peeled and cut into 1 inch chunks
1 lb potatoes cut into 1 inch chunks
Fresh shopped parsley for serving (optional)
Chop the roast into large pieces removing large chunks of fat that are easy to get to. Don't overdo it with the trimming as the fat helps make the beef tender. Season the meat generously with salt and pepper.
Heat a bit of oil or tallow in a large soup pot and brown meat in batches, paying close attention to not overcrowd the pan. Try not to skip this step as it adds depth to the stew.
Remove the meat and add the onions, garlic, balsamic vinegar to the pan. Cook until the vegetables are softened then add the tomato paste and cook for a minute more.
Add the beef back to the pan and sprinkle with flour, stir until flour is dissolved.
Add the wine, broth, water, thyme, bay leaves, and sugar. Bring to a boil, then cover and braise in the oven for 2 hours.
After 2 hours, add the carrots and potatoes. Return to the oven and continue cooking for one hour, or until the meat is fork-tender, the broth is thickened, and the carrots and potatoes are tender.
Notes: Feel free to adapt the recipe to your liking! You can swap turnips for potatoes or do a 50-50 mix of both; serve over buttered noodles; toss in some frozen peas, sauteed mushrooms, or sauteed greens at the very end.
SLOW COOKER SHREDDED BEEF
3-4 lb bone-in beef roast (chuck or round roast)
1 cup beef broth
2 Tbsp Worcestershire sauce
1 tsp kosher salt
1 tsp black pepper
1 tsp garlic powder
Place beef roast into slow cooker and add beef broth. Pour Worcestershire sauce over the top of roast and sprinkle with seasoning.
Cook roast for 4 hours on high setting or 6-8 hours on low.
Once roast beef has cooked, remove from slow cooker with tongs into a serving dish. Break apart lightly with two forks and then add back to the gravy in the slow cooker set on warm for another hour.
Store shredded beef and gravy in an airtight container in the refrigerator for later use.
Notes: Serve with any of your favorite veggie sides. Special twist - add sauteed or pickled peppers and/or caramelized onions in with the pulled beef.
ONE PAN BEEF ROAST WITH ROOT VEGETABLES
1 beef bottom round roast (~3 lbs)
1 Tbsp minced garlic
1 tsp salt, divided
1 tsp pepper, divided
6 cups diced beets, peeled and cut into 1-inch pieces (~1.5 pounds)
5 cups diced diced sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into 1-inch pieces (~1.5 lbs)
1 Tbsp oil
Preheat oven to 325°F. Line large shallow baking pan with parchment paper. Combine garlic, 1/2 teaspoon salt and 1/2 teaspoon pepper; press evenly onto all surfaces of beef roast. Place roast in pan, fat side up.
Place beets and sweet potatoes in large bowl. Add oil, remaining 1/2 teaspoon salt and remaining 1/2 teaspoon pepper; toss to coat. Arrange vegetables around roast. Do not add water or cover. Roast in 325°F oven 1-1/4 to 1-3/4 hours for medium rare.
Remove roast when meat thermometer registers 135°F for medium rare. Transfer roast to carving board; tent loosely with aluminum foil. Let stand 15 to 20 minutes. (Temperature will continue to rise about 10°F to reach 145°F for medium rare.) If vegetables are not tender, return to oven and roast until tender.
Carve roast into thin slices; season as desired. Serve with roasted vegetables.