It was only a couple of months ago that we did beef topside but although the sun had started shining then, we were still in the shadow of the Beast (and mini Beast) from the east and the more traditional roast beef seemed like the way to go. Since then, the weather has improved, roast beef and Yorkshire puddings have gone on the back burner and we’ve hardly sold a piece of topside. Despite being the supermarket’s favourite roast (it’s easy to cut into lean, small, uniform sized joints) topside and it’s neighbours silverside, thick flank and top rump do have lots of other uses. I talked about escallops and stir fries last time, so this time we’ll stick to salads and sandwiches with a bit of Tex Mex thrown in for good measure. Perfect for Summer suppers.
Roast Beef for salads and sandwiches.
Cooking any joint ‘a point’ is never going to be easy. The core will go on heating up for sometime after it comes out of the oven – the precise amount depending on how hot the oven is and the shape of the joint. For something approximating medium rare, in a 175°C oven a joint with an ‘in oven’ core temperature of 55°C will reach 58°C whilst it rests. 20 minutes in a preheated 200°C fan oven followed by 15 minutes per 500g at 175°C should just about do it – but the only way to be sure is with a meat thermometer.
Because it’s so lean, beef from the leg round (top rump, topside and silverside) is never going to have the flavour of of sirloin or rib, so I’ve taken to rubbing in a bit of Hodmedod’s Unami Paste before cooking.Roasting on a trivet of roughly chopped onion, carrot and celery plus a bay leaf, sprig of thyme and a few black peppercorns will help.
The advantage of keeping it rare is that it will still make a great steak sandwich. Well done, it’s never going to be anything other than a roast beef sandwich which really isn’t the same thing.
The Americans seem to want to add cheese to all of their meat sandwiches(https://www.delish.com/cooking/recipe-ideas/g2859/steak-sandwiches/) but I’d rather stick to mustard, mayo and a bit of lettuce. Personally, I think that’s all it needs but you may differ.
Rare Roast beef and Lentil Salad
I tried Nigel Slater’s hangover beef salad and it really didn’t do it for me. Adding a few roast vegetables and, maybe, a little Mojo Verde (or green ketchup, as I’ve started calling it) at the end helped enough to make it worth cooking a piece of beef for. Adding the beef juices to the dressing gives it a real boost and almost makes it worth getting drunk for!
Serves 6 as a main course.
400g rare roast beef
250g Puy (or other small green) lentils
Stock or water, to cover
1 medium sized onion, peeled and chopped
2 carrots, chopped
1 fresh bay leaf
1 garlic clove
Oil for sauteing
600g butternut squash, peeled and cut into 2.5cm cubes
600g courgette, peeled and cut into 2.5cm cubes
For the dressing…
Sea salt flakes
2 tbsp red wine vinegar
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
ground black pepper
8 tbsp olive oil
2 tbsp freshly grated fresh horseradish
1 large handful fresh flat leaf parsley, leaves and stalks separated
Put the lentils in a saucepan with the water and bring to the boil. Cook until al dente, take off the heat and allow to cool. Drain.
Gently saute the onion, carrot, bay leaves, parsley stalks (finely chopped) and garlic until soft.
Meanwhile, toss the courgette and squash in oil, season and roast in a hot oven until soft and begining to caramelise.
Make the dressing. Peel and grate the horseradish. Put a pinch of sea salt into a small bowl, add the red wine vinegar, mustard and a little ground black pepper, then beat in the olive oil until well combined. Add the horseradish a bit at a time, checking that it’s not too overpowering.
Mix the lentils, roast veg and dressing together,add the thinly sliced beef and scatter the parsley over the top and serve.
We’ve started making up our own fajita rub and offering beef fajita strips from the butcher’s counters but adding a bit of lime and pineapple juice definitely raises them to another level. Pineapple is well known as a tenderiser but over extended periods, both will end up pickling and eventually drying out the meat. With this in mind, I’d suggest adding them an hour or so before cooking.
For the marinade:
75mls lime juice
75mls unsweetened pineapple juice
2 tbps Worcester sauce
3 tbsp olive oil
1 tbps garlic, minced
2 tsp each of ground cumin and chilli powder
1 tsp somked paprika
1/2 tsp red pepper flakes (or more to taste)
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp black pepper
2 heaped tbsp chopped coriander
For the Fajitas:
750g top rump or topside in two thick slices
2 medium white onions, sliced
1 large poblano (mild) type chilli, ribs & seeds removed, sliced
2-3 red, green or yellow peppers
Combine the ingredients for the marinade in a large, shallow bowl. Give it a taste and check seasoning, adjust to preference. Coat the steak with the marinade and let it sit, covered in the refrigerator for an hour or so.
Set a large heavy duty frying pan over a high heat and allow to get hot for a couple of minutes. Add the steak to the pan and fry on each side for about 3 minutes. If the pan becomes too hot, reduce the heat to medium high. Remove the steak from the pan and allow to rest for several minutes tented with a piece of foil. Slice the meat against the grain, at an angle into thin strips.
Add the remaining tbsp of oil to the pan over a high heat, add the onions, poblano and peppers. Let the veg begin to sizzle, tossing as necessary. Cook for a total of 2-3 minutes (longer if you prefer them softer) and season with a pinch of salt and pepper. If your pan is small, cook the vegetable in a few bathes so that they don’t steam.
Serve in tortillas or on rice bowls topped with your favourite accompaniments.