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Sunday, September 23, 2012

Tarragon Roast Beef

Autumn has been positively lovely here so far.  The air is crisp, the colours beautiful, and my wistfulness is in full force.

I don't know if it was because we didn't really have much of a winter at all last year... or because this summer was particularly long and dry... but I find myself really looking forward to winter this year.

In particular, those really dark, really cold, still evenings.

Anyway, colder weather brings with it a penchant for warming, heartening, kinds of cooking.  I'm therefore looking forward to quite a few soups, stews, and... roasts.

This Sunday was pretty crisp and cool, and I may have pulled the trigger a little early on making my first roast of the season.  But oh well.

My wife was out working all day (yes, on a Sunday) so I decided to lift her spirits by cooking a Tarragon themed supper.  I think I've mentioned that Tarragon is her single favourite herb.  She likes it on a lot of things.  

Far too many things in my opinion.

I often get a bad rap when it comes to Tarragon, and am often mislabelled as being a Tarragon hater.  But there are some places where it can truly shine.

This particular meal showcases - what I believe to be - some of the better media for Tarragon: Beef, Potatoes, and Carrots.  My job of highlighting a Tarragon-themed meal was made easier for the fact that all of these foods can also be roasted together in one big pot.  :)

So, that's what I did.

I quickly seared my large beef roast, on high heat, directly in my roaster.  I can do this because it is cast iron (I love my Le Creuset).

Once nicely browned all over, I took this out to sit for a few minutes, in a large mixing bowl.

I quickly tossed in some coarsely-chopped onion, garlic, and scallion, and made sure to get them very well coated in all the gorgeous beefy left-overs in the pan.

While this was sautĂ©ing, I washed and cut up some yukon golds.  These are my favourite potato variety.  By far.  Like a REALLY far margin.  Hands down the best potato.  The worst, you ask?  Well, I know this is all merely my opinion, and purely subjective, but you're a complete and total moron if you like red potatoes.  Heh heh heh.

Once the onion and garlic are all nicely softened, toss those potatoes in and get them all coated.

Next comes the Tarragon.  A whole lot of it.  It's going to be the dominant flavour in this whole pot, no matter what we do, or how many other subtle accompaniments we can include, so we might as well go big with it.

Now it's just coating everything with this minty liquorice-y stuff.

The Beef; rub that stuff right in there... get the herbs all up in all its nooks and crannies.

And the potatoes.  Add a cup or so of some sort of liquid.  Red wine would be best, but I'm using just plain old tap water here.  The liquid helps keep everything moist inside the closed pot, but in this instance it also has the added benefit of helping the herbs mix their way around evenly.

Even though the roast beef and the recently coated potatoes were destined to come together and mingle in this pot, there was nevertheless some trepidation at first.

But then the magic was sparked.

I put some salt and pepper over top and then closed the lid, letting them roast at 350 for about an hour.

There were some carrots that were feeling antsy at this point.  So I neatly sliced them in anticipation of their upcoming introduction. 

Right around the hour mark, these orange babies got thrown (rather unceremoniously) on top of everything, and then the pot got put in for another 15 or 20 minutes.

Or at least that was the plan.

The wife was a little late... not too bad... but the roasting pot ended up getting cooked for about 20 minutes longer than it probably should have.

As you will see later, however, the beef was still very tender, moist, and juicy.  So it's all good.

When I did take everything out of the oven, I carefully removed each item from the pan, and then covered them with foil for now.

This left nothing but the cooking juices, and all the leftover beef and veggie gribblies, in the bottom of the pot.  This is where the money is.  In case you didn't already know that.

Look at all that flavour waiting to be utilized somehow!

So, I took my immersion blender, and carefully (this can get messy if you are not practised) mulched all that good stuff smooth.  Take a whisk or a spatula and scrape the big chunks of stuff off the sides, and make sure you include that in your blending.

After that, though, you've got an awesome, super-concentrated flavour liquid, to which the word "gravy" really just does not do justice.

Taking an oven mitt or similar protective hand gear, tilt the pot all around while whisking forcefully with a good wire whisk.  Make sure you get as much of the gribblies on the sides of the pot as possible.

Then, it's just a little corn starch for thickening, and maybe a pinch or two of sea salt and black pepper.

So, while the roast tarragon potatoes and carrots turned out beautifully...

What we're ALL waiting to witness, is this post's namesake, the Tarragon Roast Beef.

So, despite missing the 'medium'-cooked mark, and dipping closer in fact to the 'medium-well' mark, you can see that the beef was still quite moist, and very tender and delicious.

To summarize - Tarragon is an OK herb.  It has places where it can truly rock your socks and this is one of them.  The very deep, rich, dark, earthy essence of the Roast Beef is in fact underscored by the fresh tangy Tarragon, and they are both the better for it.

The vegetables, on the other hand, while benefited from the roasting with Tarragon... let's be honest here... were predominantly benefited from having a freaking huge chunk of juicy beef roasting alongside them for an hour and a half.  Oh, the Tarragon flavour is there, for sure, in its own strong and powerful way, but we'd be lying if we didn't admit the potatoes and carrots were singing the praises of beef juice the loudest.

As it should be, really.