For our latest dinner party, we knew we wanted to try roasting a relatively cheap piece of beef to see if we could get it to turn out as well as other cuts we have done, like the standing rib roast. We visited a local butcher and saw a massive, appealing looking “English roast” for less than half the price of the standing rib. Because it looked a little lower in fat content, we picked up a small package of frozen pig fat to help the roast along.
This was the first attempt at something called “larding”, a technique which I loved the minute I read about it in Julia Child’s “The Art of French Cooking.” Essentially, larding means pushing strips of fat through a large piece of meat to help it stay moist. Apparently you can get special needles for doing it, but since our lovely pig fat was already frozen, we just cut some slits into the roast and inserted some freshly sliced frozen chunks into the slits along with some garlic cloves.
Then, the entire roast was smeared with chopped rosemary, olive oil, salt, and pepper, and the top covered with more slices of pork fat and placed on the rack of an uncovered roasting pan.
Before being cooked at low heat, it went under the broiler on high for five minutes on each side. After the broiler had nicely browned each side, we turned the oven down to 275 and let it roast uncovered for at over 4 hours, basting occasionally with the fat drippings in the bottom of the pan. We pulled it out when the internal temperature was 140 and it was perfectly done.
While the roast was cooking, we were all sitting around starving and knew it would be a long time before dinner was served. We put together an awesome snack platter to munch on consisting of granny smith apples, red grapes, two kinds of crackers, boars head salami, and garlic herb cheese ball. That’s right, gotta love the cheese ball… though sadly you can’t really see much of it in the picture.
We attempted to make some pommes souffle, but they weren’t cut correctly and didn’t puff at all. They were delicious as regular fries anyway – we mortar-and-pestled some lemon zest with salt to put on them and they all got eaten before I could even take a picture. I also had a pretty failed attempt at making rolls from scratch, but I realized later that the dough was ridiculously over-proofed… stupid high altitude and desert heat. They were edible, but not picture-worthy.
As the roast was finishing, we put together some tasty wedge salads with big chunks of bleu cheese, gently cooked Irish bacon, roma tomatoes, boiled egg, and dressing.
Then the roast came out. It was surprisingly tender and quite tasty–I was worried because I had read that English roasts should only be cooked with liquid (like a pot roast) because they would be too dry otherwise. However, ours came out quite moist and tender.
It was so good that my dog, who is usually very well behaved about stealing food, actually managed to steal part of the roast off the counter! Luckily, all the guests had already been served. Also, he didn’t chew on it at all before he was discovered and scolded, so we’re going to use it for some Philly cheese steaks tonight.