Making the most of tender rib-eye

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Making the most of tender rib-eye

Open with classic roast beef, then a hearty shepherd’s pie

Boston Globe, December 30, 2009

The classic pairing of roast beef and potatoes can go from Sunday night supper to something special – depending on the cut of meat you use. For a New Year’s Eve celebration, a rib-eye roast, which has plenty of flavor for a relatively moderate price ($7.50 per pound at my local supermarket), makes a nice presentation. “The Joy of Cooking’’ refers to this and other tender cuts as “Sunday dinner roast beef.’’ Turn your elegant leftovers into a hearty shepherd’s pie.

Rib-eye comes from the area along the animal’s spine that doesn’t get much of a workout, hence its tenderness. A little marbling contributes to the good taste. Rub the meat with salt, pepper, and paprika a few hours before roasting, and baste the roast with tomato or vegetable juice, which mixes with the pan juices and cooks into a light but meaty sauce with none of the fuss of thickening. For the potatoes, make a creamy cloud of golden mash; add steamed green beans or broccoli tossed with a little butter and lemon juice as a side dish.

The extra pound of meat in the roasting pan, more potatoes then you need in the mash, and lots of veggies in the steamer are ideal for shepherd’s pie. This meat and potato casserole, traditionally made with lamb, is the perfect comforting, hot dish to feed your bleary-eyed New Year’s guests.


Roast beef
Serves 6 with leftover

1 boneless beef rib-eye roast (5 pounds)
2 teaspoons kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
2 teaspoons paprika
1 large onion, thinly sliced
2 carrots, cut into 3-inch pieces
2 stalks celery, cut into 3-inch pieces
3 cans (8 ounces each) vegetable or tomato juice
1 cup water

1. Remove the meat from the refrigerator 30 minutes before cooking.

2. Set the oven at 375 degrees. Have on hand a small roasting pan.

3. Rub the meat with salt, pepper, and paprika. Sprinkle half the onion in the pan with the carrots and celery. Spread the remaining onion on top of the roast.

4. In a bowl, mix the vegetable or tomato juice and water. Pour 1/2 cup over the meat and 2 cups over the vegetables in the pan.

5. Roast the meat in the middle of the oven for 30 minutes. Spoon the juices in the pan over the meat.

6. Turn the oven temperature down to 350 degrees. Continue roasting, basting every 30 minutes, for 1 3/4 to 2 hours or until a meat thermometer inserted into the thickest part of the meat registers 130 degrees for medium-rare meat, 140 degrees for medium, 170 degrees for well done. (Total cooking time is 2 to 2 1/2 hours.) During roasting, if the pan seems dry, add the remaining tomato mixture.

7. Transfer the meat to a cutting board and let it rest in a warm place for 10 minutes.

8. Strain the roasting juices into a saucepan (save the onions, carrots, and celery for the pie); taste the juices for seasoning and add more salt and pepper, if you like. Reheat the juices and let them simmer gently to thicken slightly. Cut the meat into 1/4-inch slices and spoon the cooking juices over the meat.

Shepherd’s Pie – Serves 6

Olive oil (for the pan)
2  tablespoons olive oil
2 cups cooked vegetables, coarsely chopped Onions, carrots, and celery from roasting the beef, coarsely chopped  4  cups cooked roast beef, coarsely chopped
2 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce
2  tablespoons ketchup
1 teaspoon dried thyme
Salt and pepper, to taste
1/2 to 1 cup leftover cooking juices, or more if you have some
3 cups mashed potatoes
2  tablespoons butter, cut into 8 pieces
1. Set the oven at 375 degrees. Oil a 9-by-13-inch baking dish.

2. In a large skillet over medium heat, heat the oil. Cook all the vegetables, stirring constantly, for 1 minute. Add the beef, Worcestershire sauce, ketchup, thyme, salt, and pepper. Cook, stirring, 1 minute more.

3. Add the cooking juices (up to 1 cup) and turn the heat to high. Bring the mixture to a boil. Taste for seasoning and add more salt and pepper, if you like. Transfer to the baking dish.

4. With a rubber spatula spread the mashed potatoes over the meat to cover it completely. Dot with butter.

5. Bake the pie for 30 minutes or until the potatoes are browned and the meat mixture is bubbling at the edges

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