Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Christmas Dinner

My family has never been big on a fancy Christmas dinner. We typically eat a snacky dinner on Christmas Eve - think assorted cheeses, perhaps some sushi, and my dad's homemade korv (sausage) when he was alive - and a big breakfast on Christmas morning, but after all that, we are ready to just lounge around and do something less exciting for the rest of the holiday.

This year, however, I stayed home in San Francisco and took matters into my own hands. I made a roast beef (something I'd only attempted once before) using my grandmother's loose recipe. I was worried that it was overdone, but it ended up being perfect. (Scroll to the bottom for a how-to!)


I have to admit, though, the mashed potatoes and gravy were what I was really looking forward to. I attended not one but two Thanksgiving dinners this year - one had great potatoes but ran out of gravy before it got to me, and the other had a-ok gravy but runny, turkey-stock-y potatoes. While the overall meals were great, they left me with a craving for some great mashed potatoes and gravy, and I finally settled that on Christmas with rosemary-beef gravy. YUM.

I found a recipe for herb rolls on foodgawker awhile back and decided to give it a shot for this meal. They were fantastic. Thanks Carolyn at Food Gal!

I rounded things out with some lemon-y roasted asparagus and a bottle of wine.

The only downside was that Tim and I were the only ones there to eat it - we could have easily fed half a dozen, or more!

Nana's Roast Beef (with my own adaptations)

  • Bottom round (I used a 4-pounder)
  • Assorted veggies, like carrots and celery
  • Salt and pepper
  • Several sprigs of rosemary
This hardly needs a recipe, it's so simple. 

1. About 4 to 5 hours before dinner, pull the bottom round out of the fridge, cut off excess fat, and rub some salt and pepper all over. Let sit for a couple hours so it can come to room temp. If you have a dutch over, that's perfect. If not, a roasting pan will do fine.

2. Preheat the oven to 350° F. Place the dutch oven with the beef on the stove over medium high heat. Sear on all sides.

3. Using tongs or a large fork, pick the beef up and place chopped veggies underneath. This keeps the bottom from sticking and also adds flavor to the juices (which will later become fantastic gravy). Put 4 or 5 sprigs of rosemary on the bottom, too, set the beef in, and pull another sprig of rosemary apart on top of the beef.

Post-sear, pre-roast
4. Put a lid on and stick it in the oven for about an hour, depending on the size. Use a meat thermometer to check doneness - I pulled mine out at about 120°.

5. Let rest on a cutting board for 15 to 20 minutes before slicing and serving - tent it with tin foil and it will stay hot.

And the gravy (my favorite part of the roast!):

Drain the juices into another container and discard the veggies and rosemary. Return juices to the dutch oven and add a cup or two of store-bought beef broth, to taste. Warm over low heat on the stove and slowly stir in about 2 tablespoons of flour and then 2 tablespoons of milk (add more broth, flour, or milk
to get the right consistency, if necessary). Keep stirring until all the lumps are gone and the gravy is thick - voila!

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