Monday, November 20, 2006

The Wedding Frenzy: Blowtorch Beef

So, regular readers may recall that we've been working on the Blowtorch Beef for a while. With varying degrees of success. Varying. But, the flavor has always been there, it was just our technique of getting the meat to medium rare that was the problem.

In addition, I know almost nothing about meat cuts. The dizzying amount of roast beef literature we had read suggested anything from eye round to rump round to rib roasts. (Why can't we just call these cuts something normal, like "Cow leg, upper side near the butt cheek," or "Cow neck, left side"? I need a freakin' scorecard every time I walk up to the meat counter.) Interestingly, a courtesy issue of Cook's Country (from the folks who bring you Cook's Illustrated) featured a fine roast beef, and suggested that the best bet was Top Sirloin Roast (aka top butt, top sirloin butt, center cut roast, spoon roast, or "cow hip") since it had marbling (good for juiciness) and tasted great.

Herewith are the final cooking times and temperatures we settled on to achieve what we felt was incredibly tasty beef. The picture above is just of the leftovers (which, even cold, are REALLY good!). We couldn't slice the beef fast enough to keep the platters full out there. In the end, we cooked four of these babies for the reception, and had about a half a roast's worth left over.

Blowtorch Roast Beef
adapted from Heston Blumenthal

The original recipe relied on long, slow cooking at about 130F to give tender, perfectly cooked meat. Like most home ranges, our oven, sadly, won't go below 200F, so we adjusted Heston's 20 hour cook time to match a higher temperature and the results were still great.

4 lb Beef Top Sirloin Roast
salt and freshly ground black pepper
Walnut oil
Propane Blowtorch

One day ahead, rinse the beef roast and pat dry with paper towels. Generously season the beef with salt and pepper, cover and refrigerate overnight.

When you’re ready to roast, preheat the oven to 200F (if you have a gas oven, set it to the lowest setting, and use an oven thermometer if possible).

Wipe the beef roast with oil. Then using a blowtorch, brown the meat all over. This may take a few minutes depending on the size of the beef and the power of the blowtorch.

Place in a roasting tray on a rack and roast for 2 ½ hours. But most importantly, keep the meat thermometer handy and feel free to pull it out as soon as the beef reaches 120F. It will rise another 8-10 degrees as you rest it for 20-30 minutes, but will be lovely for medium-rare beef.

To carve, slice thinly across the grain, so that when you eat it, your teeth will bite between the fibres, not across them, giving the meat a more tender texture.

Serves 6-8.

Back to the Wedding Menu.


Anonymous said...

I think the original called for 20hours at 55C (131F). You have reduced the cooking time by a factor of ten but only doubled the temperature....does this mena your meat no longer has a 'slow cooked' texture?

ME said...

Hi there!

Well, unfortunately since we never managed to do the real recipe with it's MUCH longer cooking time, I couldn't say how different it is from Blumenthal's. I can say that it was MUCH better than the average roast beef, but I have no doubt that it would have been different in texture and probably flavor if we'd been able to manage the lower temperature. I should say that we were mainly working trial-and-error fashion, because once we realized that our oven wasn't capable of doing what we wanted, we just set it at the lowest possible temperature and cooked until the meat itself was at medium-rare temperature, which turned out to be about 2 and a half hours. It was very tender and had a great more "beefy" flavor than other roasts I've done, but I'd love of course to have the real thing see what the texture is meant to be.