Chat Leftovers: Eye of Round Steak Creation, Meatless Farm Market Supper
Surf and Turf: I am having five couples over for Friday dinner. Am planning on steaming shrimp, chilling it and serving it with two different dipping sauces.
Want to use a five-pound eye of the round I have in the freezer, too. How long to thaw in the fridge? Also, any interesting way to cook? I guess I envision it sliced and served on a platter. Don't want a hot or heavy dinner.
Am rounding out the meal with a black bean/tomato/corn/avocado salad. Please help me with this roast and I would be so grateful.
Dear Surf and Turf: Some background on cow anatomy is in order before we get into dinner prep; the "round" offers the rear view of the cow, as in the rump or the big ol' behind. A boneless cylinder-like shape sandwiched between the heel and the rolled rump, the eye might look like a tenderloin, but tender it is not. In fact, the lean and muscular eye needs some coaxing in the kitchen, usually by way of moist heat (aka braising).
You could sear the eye on top of the stove and braise it in the oven with wine but because it's nearly August and you've requested something that isn't hot or heavy, I'm thinking grilling is your next best option -- albeit with a caveat. Don't just slap that eye on the grill with a little salt and pepper; it will need a marinade to coax those muscles into tender morsels. You need an acid -- wine, beer, mustard, fruit are all options -- and you need a wee bit of fat, at least 1 teaspoon salt per 1.5 pounds of meat and at least one flavor element (such as garlic, herbs or spices). For a five-pound cut of meat, you'll want about 1 cup of marinade and you'll want about 24 hours of thaw time in the fridge. Thin slices are key. In your shoes, I might whip up a kicky summery concoction of peaches, garlic, chiles and bourbon, which I think the eye of round would happily embrace.
Oh, one last thing: Forget about the performance aspect of the dinner party and remember instead to have fun!
complete loss..: Usually I am a pro at throwing together something for dinner and with the amount of fresh vegetables in my fridge from the farmers market I should have no problem tonight. But for the life of me I can't come up with something I want to make for dinner. Here is what I have: fresh corn, squash, zucchini, lima beans, peppers, tomatoes, fennel, goat cheese, feta cheese and a fully stocked pantry. So, any ideas? I would prefer if this was a meatless meal.
By the way, if anyone is looking for the absolute best farmer's market around and doesn't mind a drive... travel up to Baltimore on Sunday mornings for the Baltimore Farmers' Market. It is fabulous and you can find just about anything there... crabs, cheese, milk, fruit, veggies, meat, nuts, etc. I think there must be at least 40-50 vendors there.
Hey, we all have those days when inspiration is in short supply, which is why sometimes it takes a village to make supper.
I am so envious you have fresh lima beans in your midst! Do a quick parboil in salted water, then drain and cook in some butter until desired tenderness. I like them a little toothy, but you be the judge. I might even add a chopped onion here, which will lend some sweetness to those beans. They're wonderful all by themselves but could also be gorgeous paired with corn kernels cut off the cob, thrown into the skillet for a quick conversation with those limas. The color combination will be the stuff of paintings!
Then I might take one of those zucchinis, cut in half lengthwise, hollow it out a bit, stuff it with a tomato and pepper, a little garlic, bread crumbs and either one of those cheeses on top. Bake at 350 degrees until fork tender, and you've got the makings of a stylin' summer supper, my dear.
Editor's Note: Speaking of the Baltimore Farmers' Market, check out today's store from the Food section.
The whole enchilada: This week's What's Cooking transcript.
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