Where's The Beef...

You may or may not have noticed that we don't eat a lot of beef around here. Besides the ground beef that gets turned into spaghetti sauce and burritos, I'm just not sure what to do wit it. I recently discovered that I can turn flank steak into a mind-blowing stir-fry with snow peas, but other than that, it seems like most beef recipes go one of two directions: grilling it and serving it in unadulterated steak form, which is problematic as I don't own a grill, or baking an enormous roast fit for 8-10 people. Neither of those choices really fit my lifestyle, and I'm not a huge fan of stew either. Plus, beef is crazy expensive, which makes me reluctant to experiment with it.

Still, a few enticing beef recipes have found their way into my recipe queue, leaving me to bide my time until I could find some reasonably priced meat. Memorial Day, which is apparently the official kickoff to summer grilling season, brought with it a "Buy $20 worth of beef, get $5 back," promotion at my local grocery store, so I went on two separate days to stock up. With my freezer bursting at the seams with various cuts of meat, I decided this weekend that it was time to delve right in.

For starters, I chose a dish from Saveur that I've had my eye on for quite some time. As I've mentioned, a Saveur recipe that can be made without a trip to a specialty grocery store is rare thing indeed, and this one was particularly unusual in that I happened to have all the ingredients in my fridge and pantry, except for the beef and some fresh basil leaves, which I only purchase on an as-needed basis. With the beef on hand, throwing this meal together was a cinch, though it still took some time.

I enlisted Justin's help in pounding out the steaks to 3/16" inch thickness, as he has more experience in wielding a meat tenderizer than I do, after years of making schnitzel with his family. From there, all I had to do was sprinkle the beef with seasonings, cheese, and prosciutto, roll them up, and secure them with toothpicks, which was actually somewhat fun. The meat braised in a simple cooking liquid for over and hour, leaving the majority of the prep time for the recipe hands-off.

Justin really enjoyed this dinner, though I felt that it was a bit on the salty side. The recipe had called for seasoning the steaks with salt prior to rolling them up, but I feel like that was overkill in light of the Pecorino cheese that was also part of the stuffing. The sauce, however, was deeply flavored, in spite of its simplicity. 

Sadly, I had to inform Justin that I wasn't sure when he would get to experience this meal again, despite how much he enjoyed it. Not only is it rare for us to find affordable beef, but there are so many recipes in my experimentation queue that we repeat dishes very infrequently. Still, I could definitely see myself recreating this dish for a special occasion, or when I want to do something to make Justin particularly happy. It's always nice to have a pleasant surprise up your sleeve for the person you love, don't you think?

Stuffed Beef in Tomato Sauce
adapted from Saveur

4 4 oz. beef scallopine from top round, pounded to 3/16" thickness
5 cloves of garlic, minced
1/4 c. finely grated Pecorino Romano
4 thin slices prosciutto
7 fresh basil leaves
1/4 c. olive oil
1 onion, minced
1/4 c. tomato paste
1 1/2 c. beef broth
1 28 oz. can crushed tomatoes

1.Working with one piece of beef at a time, season beef with salt and pepper and rub with 1⁄2 tsp. garlic. Sprinkle with 1 tbsp. Pecorino; top with 1 piece of prosciutto and a basil leaf. Working from one short edge of beef, roll beef into a cylinder. Secure with toothpicks. Repeat to make 4 rolls; set aside.
2Heat oil in a large skillet over high heat. Add beef; cook, turning, until browned, about 6 minutes. Transfer to a plate. Reduce heat to medium; add onions and remaining garlic; cook until soft, 5–6 minutes. Add tomato paste; cook, stirring, for 3 minutes. Add 1/2 cup of beef broth; return pan to medium-high heat. Cook until broth has evaporated, about 1 minute. Add remaining broth and bring to a boil. Add beef and remaining basil; bring to a boil; reduce heat to low. Cover and simmer until beef is tender, about 1 hour 15 minutes. Transfer beef to 2 plates and remove toothpicks; cover with foil. Add tomatoes to skillet, bring to a boil, and season with salt and pepper. To serve, uncover beef and ladle tomato sauce over the top.

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