The first thing to consider is how much money we've got available to us. Do we need to be a little circumspect, or is the full budgeted amount available? What is happening in the evening across the week? Do we have any late school pickups? Is son & heir going to be out for any of the evenings, or alternatively, is he likely to bring a pal home who might need dinner?
All these things having been taken into consideration, I then start by thinking about dishes I've been wanting to make, plus dishes I've been lusting after - and the same goes for hubby. If son & heir is around, we ask him too - but his reply is often just "pizza" - although he did suggest last week's Carbonara, which was a stroke of brilliance on his part.
Inevitably, however, we wind up sat there pondering FOR EVER on what to have for Sunday's dinner.
This last Sunday was a different kettle of beef (see what I did there?) altogether. I knew immediately what I wanted to do - which was throw a lump of beef in the slow cooker and have hubby do the rest. No, not really (although that was kind of how it happened).
|All rubbed, snuggled down on its celery & onions - see you in 8 hours!|
You see, just recently we investigated making Pulled Pork by using the slow cooker - and very successful it was too. (Yes, I know I haven't blogged that one yet - but I will!). I had been pondering on why it was that the Americans seem to have the monopoly on "doing stuff with a huge lump of meat and loads of different rubbed on flavours" and came to the conclusion that it would be interesting to try creating an English Rub for meat.
Now the sensible choice would have been to try the process with a piece of pork, as I'd already done an American version with some success. No. I don't work like that. I like a bit more jeopardy in my life. ~rolls eyes~ I'd begun the process by thinking about what an "English Rub" would consist of, when all of a sudden realised I was considering rubbing it onto beef. Well, it just made sense! What is more English than Roast Beef? So, if you're looking to create an "English Rub", it just made sense to use beef rather than anything else.
|Eight hours later ...... cor!|
Thankfully, our local butcher is currently doing a special offer on Silverside of beef - which also just happens to be one of hubby's favourite cuts of beef. Not mine, I have to say, as I like to have a little more fat running through the meat - and the lack of fat gave me cause for concern as to the success of the rub. After all, it's the rendering down of the fat in the pulled pork that gives it a lot of its flavour.
Silverside does have some fat - but it is a line which runs along one side of the meat (like with a Sirloin Steak). I figured that if I could arrange the meat with that fat uppermost, as it rendered it would drip down and through the meat. So I crossed my fingers and went for it.
The rub that I settled upon - and which worked so well - was made up almost entirely with ingredients that are best friends with beef and was as follows :
3 small bay leaves & 2 teaspoonfuls of yellow mustard seeds, which I pulverised with half a teaspoonful of sea salt in my pestle and mortar. That gave me the deep flavour of the bay, along with the slight warmth and earthy flavour of the mustard.
Next, was a teaspoonful of dried thyme - for its overall herby flavour, a half of a teaspoonful of mace - for its fragrance, two teaspoonful of ground black pepper - for its warmth and deep savouriness, two teaspoonful of creamed horseradish - for its spicy kick and traditional flavour, two teaspoonfuls of redcurrant jelly, for a balancing sweetness with a fruity tang and a Knorr beef stock pot, just to add a lovely background savouriness.
All these ingredients went into a large freezer bag, followed by the beef. It's a great way of being able to massage all those flavours into the beef, without massaging them into your hands, too.
I didn't leave the beef to marinate in the mixture, as I reckoned that eight hours in the slow cooker was probably long enough for it to do any marinating it might want to.
I sliced up two onions and three sticks of celery and piled them into the bottom of the slow cooker and placed the beef on top. No water was added at this stage - or at any stage up until the end of cooking. Whatever liquid was in there, came directly from the vegetables and the beef - which is why, when the time came to remove the beef to rest, I was surprised to see a good half an inch of liquid in there - which was deliciously oniony and made quite outstanding gravy.
The beef had shrunk a bit and developed a crust on the outside of it. However, under that crust the meat was softly moist and completely delicious. A friend commented on Facebook to ask whether we could taste the meat still - and believe it or not, all those flavours had accentuated the beefiness of the meat, not swamped it. This was why I wanted to make sure I had predominantly classic flavours that went with beef, so that nothing would clash. The only joker in the pack was the redcurrant jelly, which provided that lovely sweetness and tang that went so well with the horseradish and mustard.
The beef would have pulled apart (in the way of pulled pork), but it could also be carved, so we went for that option as we were serving it alongside roast potatoes and parsnips with steamed vegetables. It was very worthwhile serving it this way, as it made use of the juices in some amazing gravy. I can quite imagine, however, that it would have been completely spanking in a substantial bread bun, with more horseradish and some watercress.
So there you are! The next time you have a piece of Silverside and don't know what to do with it - remember the English Rub!
POT ROAST ENGLISH RUBBED SILVERSIDE OF BEEF (serves 4-5)
1kg beef silverside, raw and whole
2 large onions, peeled, halved and sliced thickly
3 sticks of celery, washed, trimmed and cut into three
2 tsp yellow mustard seeds
3 small bay leaves
a large pinch of sea salt (for the pestle & mortar method)
1 tsp dried thyme
half a tsp ground mace
2 tsp ground black pepper
2 tsp creamed horseradish
2 tsp redcurrant jelly
1 Knorr beef stock pot.
1. Place the sliced onions and celery into the bottom of a slow cooker.
2. Put the mustard seeds and bay leaves into a spice grinder and grind to a powder. Alternatively (which was my choice) put them into a pestle & mortar along with the pinch of sea salt and grind until a rough powder.
3. Take a large freezer bag and into it, put all the rub ingredients : the mustard/bay/salt mix (or add the salt, if you've used a spice grinder), thyme, mace, black pepper, horseradish, redcurrant and stock pot. Twist the top of the bag and massage all the ingredients until well smooshed together.
4. If your piece of beef has been tied, remove the ties and around a third of the fat.
5. Add to the plastic bag and seal the top. Massage the rub into the meat by squidging the bag and turning the meat over and over - until it is coated completely with the rub.
6. Cut off the top of the bag and place the beef on top of the bed of onions and celery.
7. Turn the slow cooker on to medium and cook for the next 8 hours.
8. Once the cooking time is up, remove the beef from the accumulated juices (there will be quite a lot!) and put onto a place, cover with foil and leave in a warm place to rest.
9. Drain the juices from the slow cooker into a saucepan. Add a little water or beef stock if you need to increase the quantity and heat until simmering. Add either Bisto Rich Roasted Beef Gravy granules if you are after a big flavoured gravy, or some plain flour mixed with a little water, if you are happy with the flavours as they are. Stir through and once thickened, serve.
Slice the beef with a sharp knife and serve with roasted potatoes, roasted parsnips, steamed cabbage, carrots, peas and your lovely gravy. A couple of Yorkshire Puddings generally go down fairly well, too!