Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Adventures in meat: eye round roast (beef)

I sent Kevin to a local farmer's meat market, with some vague instructions to get some meat. He got there a little late, so the supply was somewhat picked over, but he did get a nice big sirloin and some pork chops. He also brought me an eye round roast, which I've been playing with.

Eye round is not a great cut of meat. I've heard one customer talk enthusiastically about how tender this cut is, but this is a very relative statement to make. The "round," which is from the rear end, is not a tender piece of beef. Most round gets ground for burger. You can buy a bottom round roast or sometimes top round steaks, but you don't really want to roast or grill these: they are far too tough. Mark Bittman, in How to Cook Everything, is fairly dismissive of the round in general, and advises home cooks to stick with the classic steaks: the ribeye, the strip, the sirloin and tenderloin.

I hadn't yet consulted Bittman when I began making plans for the eye round. I thawed the roast and unwrapped it last night. The meat was very deeply red, almost purple, with very white fat. This is a good sign. I've come to expect this kind of color from grass-fed meat. The roast was also pretty lean, but not exceptionally so for this cut. Eye round is very lean.

I whacked off what I judged to be about a pound of the roast. A typical eye round is about five pounds. I sliced the pound into thin strips and marinated the beef in a mixture of tamari, sesame oil, and some sliced green onions. While the beef marinated, I peeled and sliced a turnip and a parsnip, and cut up two portobello mushrooms. I stir-fried the beef in some oil, garlic, and ginger, removed it, added the vegetables, added some mung bean sprouts left over from pad Thai earlier this week, and the rest of the bunch of green onions. It was fantastic.

Definitely, definitely marinate and thinly slice your eye round. It is not tender, but it is tasty. My plan for the next chunk of this roast is to marinate it for fajitas.

Beef Stir-Fry with Winter Vegetables


1 lb eye round beef (or other stir-fry beef), sliced into ½"-square strips, 3-4" long
½ cup tamari or soy sauce
¼ cup sesame oil
7-8 green onions, sliced into ¼" rounds
1 small turnip, sliced into ¼" sticks
1 large parsnip, sliced into ¼" sticks
2 portobello mushrooms, sliced into ½" pieces
2 cups mung bean sprouts
2 T garlic, minced
1 T ginger, minced
2 T canola oil

Marinate the strips of beef in a mixture of the tamari, sesame oil, and half the green onions for 30-60 minutes.

Heat a wok or heavy-bottomed pot on a high flame. Add the canola oil. When it is hot, add the garlic and ginger, then the beef. Stir-fry for a few minutes, until the beef is browned on all sides. Remove the beef to a bowl.

Add the turnip, parsnip, and mushrooms to the wok. Stir fry for several minutes until a piece of root vegetable is slightly soft on the outside, but still has a little bit of bite.

Return the beef to the wok and add the mung bean sprouts and the remaining green onion slices. Adjust tamari, or add salt and pepper to taste. Serve over rice.


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