Oddly, for me, I wasn't at all worried about cooking this piece of meat. Ordinarily, if a piece of meat has cost more than the regulation £2-3 (which we allow per meal) then I'm all a-skitter about not trashing it in the cooking process. This time, however, I was really quite cool about the whole thing.
It may well have been because I was aiming for a piece of Roast Beef that was seared and brown on the outside, but pink and rare on the inside. In aiming for that, I knew that there was little chance of my leaving the meat so long that it was completely inedible, so there was no cause for worry about that.
I was, however, a little bit anxious not to over-cook it to a point where it was only just pink on the inside and had been practising the "thumb to first finger, press the pad of your thumb" test for weeks.
On the day, I took the meat out of the fridge early on so that it could return to room temperature and not run the risk of it still being cold inside, but cooked outside. It was a lovely dark red colour, which always bodes well.
I heated a couple of tablespoons of olive oil in the roasting tin on the hob of the cooker and - most bravely, I thought - added the beef so as to sear the outside and obtain that lovely caramelised texture and flavour. Jeepers, but it's scary stuff, juggling a roasting pan that won't stay still with 1kg of beef that won't stand up, in a puddle of hot olive oil. The sound alone would have been enough to have had me running for the fire extinguisher a few years ago!
The smell though, ooooh, the smell was just lovely. I think it was the main reason I kept on juggling the meat, pan and oil - just to keep that smell of cooked beef coming.
I was very glad to finally be able to put the beef to rest in the pan (fat side up), season it liberally with just salt & pepper and tuck it up into the moderate oven for 40 minutes (20 minutes per 500g).
That gave me time to prepare the rest of the vegetables, as I'd already put together the Fennel & Cherry Tomato Crumble Gratin.
It is amazing how quickly 40 minutes can disappear when you're busy - and when it came time to remove the beef from the oven, it felt as though it had only just gone in! All that practising with the "pad of your thumb" test came into its own as I poked the meat suspiciously with a finger. Cripes, but it felt awful hard - far harder than I had anticipated. I've come to the conclusion that I must have very flabby thumbs though, because following on from a half an hour's resting, when it was carved it was perfect. I was so worried that I'd gone over into "well done" rather than "medium rare". If anything, I'd say it was somewhere between rare and medium - so I refer you back to the flabby thumbs comment.
To eat, the beef was tender, moist and so flavoursome. I'd wondered about including some flavours with the beef as it was cooking, but decided not to on the premise that I wanted to be able to taste roast beef and nothing but roast beef, as opposed to "roast beef flavoured with something". I was glad I'd resisted the temptation. Even cold the following day, it retained its tenderness and moistness and made the most superlative beef & horseradish sandwich.
|Our Christmas dinner, expressed as a Kaleidoscope. It made me chuckle!|
For the first time I'd ever cooked a piece of Sirloin to such an exacting end result, I think I did really very well.
Oh - and the 1kg was more than enough for the three of us for Christmas lunch - and four or five sandwiches, plus a salad and a breakfast of roast beef with fried egg. Worth every penny of the £15-ish it cost us.