Sunday Dinners: Roast Beef For A Crowd

by admin on February 21, 2009 · 0 comments

A collaboration between Andrew Schloss and Cookthink, the Sunday Dinners project is designed to help busy people cook more at home. Each week, we show you how spin the leftovers from a leisurely weekend meal into a slew of brand new, easy weeknight dinners. (For more on this, read Andy’s introduction to the project.)

A roast beef asks little more than the warmth of an oven to achieve perfection, although fools never stop trying to improve an essentially fool-proof dish with sodden sheaths of puff pastry and starchy shards of Yorkshire pudding.

This week I have devised a Sunday feast that matches the opulence of the roast with an equally majestic sauce made from braised wild and domestic mushrooms — a luxurious pairing that yields leftover sauce to make a sophisticated weekday chicken stew that’s ready in 20 minutes, brimming with rich forest flavors.

The rest of the week, leftover side dishes from Sunday’s meal — roasted potatoes with capers, an eggless Caesar salad and sautéed chipotle tomatoes — provide a pasta sauce, condiments to dress up cold roast beef and a marinade for broiled scampi.

Feeding A Crowd

I have made the assumption that the grandeur of this Sunday dinner puts it in the league of a special occasion feast, rather than a family affair. Therefore, the Sunday dinner recipes have been written to yield 8 to 10 portions, plus enough for making the weeknight entrees.

Rib roasts are sold by number of ribs; a 5-rib roast will weigh about 9 pounds and serve more than 10 people. When the ribs are left long (about 6 inches) the roast is said to be a “standing rib roast” because the arch of the ribs act as a rack for holding the meat upright on the grill. This presentation is often referred to erroneously as prime rib, which technically refers only to beef that has been graded prime. A regular rib roast is trimmed to have shorter bones (about 3 inches long); the pieces that are removed are sold as short ribs.

A Note About “Wild” Mushrooms

Mushrooms are the fruiting bodies of edible fungi. They include hundreds of species, such as Agaricus bisporus, which yields white button mushrooms, white stuffing mushrooms and mushrooms that look like wild mushrooms, such as cremini, and portobello mushrooms. Most edible mushrooms, including once-wild varieties like shiitake and oyster, are now cultivated in sterilized beds of nitrogen-enriched decaying plant matter and manure. Only a few varieties, such as porcini, chanterelles, hedgehogs and truffles, are still harvested in the wild. These mushrooms are difficult to cultivate for mass production because they grow on or near live trees in a symbiotic relationship.

What Makes Beef “Prime”?

There are eight quality grades for beef: prime, choice, select, standard, commercial, utility, cutter and canner, but literally all of the beef that is sold at retail markets falls within the top three grades.

Prime beef has the highest degree of marbling, but since only about 2 percent of the beef produced in the country is graded prime, and almost all of that is exported or sold to restaurants, it is unlikely that you will see it sold at your local supermarket. If you have access to a good butcher, he will be able to get you prime beef, but usually only loin steaks and rib roasts.

Sunday Dinner Recipes:

Rib Roast Of Beef With Braised Wild Mushrooms (Sunday Dinners)
Roasted Potatoes With Capers (Sunday Dinners)
Eggless Caesar Salad (Sunday Dinners)
Sauteed Chipotle Tomatoes (Sunday Dinners)

Weekday Spin-Off Recipes:

Broiled Scampi Romano (Sunday Dinners)
Mexican Spaghetti (Sunday Dinners)
Cold Roast Beef With Caesar And Tomato Sauces (Sunday Dinners)
Chicken And Mushroom Stew (Sunday Dinners)

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