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Sunday, May 20, 2012

Collaborative cooking

When I invited my daughter and her husband and son to Sunday night supper, she said, "We need beef" and suggested flank steak. Maybe I don't cook it right, but I always find flank steak too chewy. I had a recipe for roast beef from Mystery Lovers Kitchen, courtesy Cleo Coyle, author of the Coffeehouse Mysteries and one of my favorite authors. It called for a sirloin tip roast. Another recipe I want to try called for 1-1/2 lbs. boneless sirloin steak. It's the end of the month, and I'm eking out my pennies, so I asked the butcher which was cheaper, and he said the roast. I asked for a 3 lb. roast at most--which was really too much for us, given that Jacob doesn't like beef--and got a 3.87 lb. roast. Dilemma.
Called my cooking neighbor, Jay, and said I had a brilliant idea. We'd butterfly the roast and grill it. (The original recipe, which calls for a rub, also specified grilling as an option but not for a roast the size I had.) Jay had two objections: he'd never butterflied a roast, and he'd never grilled a roast. Plus he had only cooked one roast in his life and that was chateubriand (some help he is, with caviar tastes!). I could see clearly how it would work, but I needed a co-conspirator.
Here's what we did: I set the roast out about two, covered in plastic wrap, to come ro room temperature. A little before five, I lit the grill. When Jay came over, we butterflied the roast (split it sideways, if you will) and spread the rub (kosher salt, pepper, sweet paprika, brown sugar, and chile powder) heavily on both sides. Then Jay dabbed olive oil on it, and oiled the grill. We kept the front burners lit and put the roast on the back until he decided it would be a good idea to sear it and then move it to the back. A little over an hour later, we had a perfect, moist, tender medium rare piece of meat--with enough left over for lunches for everyone. I think the advantage to butterflying it was that the slices were thin and you got a taste of the rub with every bite. Absolutely wonderful.
Here's Cleo Coyle's recipe. You'll see how we changed it: To accompany this, Jordan made a big salad. Jay doesn't eat the blue cheese we love, so in order to have his company and that of his wife, Susan, we sacrificed and made a salad with feta. Warmed over rolls from the freezer and, at the last minute, chocolate chip cookies. Jay ran home and got the frozen dough Susan had bought from some school child. She's better than I am because I always just say, "No, thank  you."
Not a gourmet meal but so good--and lots of wine and beer consumed. Lovely evening. We all sat on the porch during the cooking but moved inside for dinner--six just won't fit around my porch table.
Years ago, one of the things I liked about my marriage, when it was good, was having someone to cook for company with. Tonight took me back to those days but now I can do that roast myself.

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