Say, hypothetically, that last week, when it was reasonable cool in the evenings, you decided that you were going to make pot roast and mashed potatoes using Tyler Florence’s recipes for both. Imagine that you have purchased the meat and the potatoes, as well as some broccoli which was to be roasted with a Parmesan crust. Now picture this: its hot. Very, very hot. Its already 90 degrees, and with the air conditioner on you can only get the house to 75 degrees when you are NOT running an oven for 2 1/2 hours. The idea of pot roast and mashed potatoes, which would make you swoon with delight in December, is just plain repulsive. Its time to punt.
I had 3 pounds of top round, which was supposed to be the pot roast. I didn’t want to run the oven, so roasting and broiling were out. I consider cutting it into small steaks and pan-frying with some shallots and garlic and then making a sauce by de-glazing the pan with some red wine, but rejected that idea because top round isn’t a really tender cut of meat, and I thought it might get tougher with frying.
I decided to cut it into 1-inch steaks, marinate it, and grill it. The marinade was a critical decision; if I went with something sort of olive-oil and wine vinegar-y, I was heading down one road, whereas an Asian-influenced soak would require a different set of decisions. Since Italian is my default setting, I decided to live on the edge and use this marinade from my current kitchen God, Mark Bittman:
Soy and Sesame Dipping Sauce or Marinade
(from How to Cook Everything by Mark Bittman)
- 1 tablespoon toasted sesame seeds
- 1/4 cup soy sauce
- 1 tablespoon dark sesame oil
- 1 1/2 teaspoons rice or other light vinegar
- 1/2 teaspoon minced garlic
- 1 tablespoon peeled and minced fresh ginger or 1 teaspoon ground ginger
- 1/2 teaspoon sugar
Combine all ingredients and stir briefly, to blend. (Bittman notes that if the flavor is to strong you can dilute it with water. a teaspoon at a time). I made my marinade, put it in a Ziploc with my “steaks,” rubbed it around a little to make sure the marinade covered all surfaces, and put the bag in the refrigerator until grilling time.
The Potatoes…or not…
I bagged the potatoes. I couldn’t think of a way to make them that didn’t involve baking, boiling or frying, and I didn’t want to do any of those things. As a courtesy to my Soy and Sesame beef, I made sushi rice.
Finally, there was the matter of the broccoli. I knew what to do on this one. I love broccoli, I really do, but after a while it gets a little dull with butter, or lemon, or both, or even sauteed with garlic and onion. Tonight, I steamed it in the microwave and topped it with my friend Melissa’s peanut sauce, which is so good that if no one was looking I might eat it out of the bowl with a spoon. Double the recipe because you’ll want some for dipping veggies, or to have for lunch over some noodles or steamed vegetables.
Melissa’s Peanut Sauce
- 1/2 cup crunchy peanut butter (smooth works too; its just a thinner sauce)
- 2 tablespoons soy sauce
- 1 teaspoon white sugar
- 2 drops hot pepper sauce (like Tabasco or Frank’s)
- 1 clove garlic, minced
- 1 inch (app.) fresh ginger, peeled and minced
- 1/2 cup water
The meat was delicious grilled and cut thinly across the grain, and it went nicely with the rice, broccoli and peanut sauce. Sometimes, a punt works better than the originally planned play.