Easy, tender, and affordable roast in Israel… yes, it IS possible!
I wasn’t a big meat cook in Canada. We ate a lot of chicken, but I was kind of shy about beef. Still, I managed to make some acceptable roasts from time to time – meat that was tender enough and tasty enough that we could enjoy it together on special occasions.
All that changed when we moved to Israel, where all the meat cuts are different from what I was used to and nothing, it seemed, was tender and tasty except the most expensive bits, like steak (which always seems to turn out tough when we make it at home, but we don’t mind because it’s delicious).
But some of the English speakers here were chatting on our WhatsApp group last week about roasting beef, and it made me really want to try it again –even after having been burned numerous times.
So on Thursday evening, we bought a nice little #6 roast, which according to this indispensible meat chart is called Fillet Medumeh (פילה מדומה), petit tender, or foreshank. The page's owner, Marc Gottlieb, says it’s good for “Grilling, stovetop, quick roast,” but horrible past experience has taught me that we don’t have enough steak knives for anything other than LOW AND SLOW cooking. I always forget which cuts of meat we’ve had success with in the past, but I picked this one because it seemed like a nice modest size and it wasn’t very expensive.
My plan was to pop the frozen meat hunk in our crock pot overnight and have perfectly “roasted” beef in the morning that I could cool all day until Shabbos.
Then this happened:
This is the burnt-out mafseik reishi (main circuit breaker) from our electrical panel, which apparently caught fire for no reason at all. (Yes, this scares the bejeepers out of me!!!)
All of which meant that the meat had to sit and defrost overnight in the fridge, along with all the other things “defrosting” in our fridge and freezer (come to think of it, the frozen-cold meat hunk probably helped keep things cool in there without power – thanks, meat hunk!!!). (I taped up the fridge so we wouldn’t accidentally open it, and left a water bottle on the table so that my family would use that instead of the Brita in the morning when they woke up. The power was out for about 10-11 hours, all told.)
Fast-forward to Friday morning, when the power was finally restored!
I was sad that the meat wouldn’t have a chance to rest before Shabbos, but quickly seared it in the cast-iron skillet and plopped it in the crock pot with whatever I could rustle up with no effort whatsoever:
What’s in there? I don’t have an exact recipe because you don’t NEED an exact recipe. Just toss things in until it looks like there’s enough – if that makes sense.
Meat hunk (#6), garlic cloves (smashed to remove peels), salt, pepper, onion soup mix, wine and a few sprigs of rosemary from the garden, arrayed here on top of the meat to cover up the fact that this is a pretty gross-looking hunk of meat. NOTE: The wine doesn’t cover the meat. It doesn’t have to, unless you want to end up with soup. Just enough in the bottom is all.
I started it cooking at 11 a.m. and decided to just leave it on low all day, to give it the best chance of softening up. I intended to throw in some nice roasty vegetables, carrots, and potatoes and maybe celery, later on in the day, but promptly forgot until right before Shabbos, so whatever.
Half an hour before Shabbos, I tasted the wine, added a little bit more salt and pepper, and then stirred some flour into a glass of water until it was smooth and milky. I poured this flour-water mixture straight into the wine and stirred it around to make sure it was well-mixed. Then I turned the crock pot up to High for half an hour so the now-thickened gravy could bubble for a while.
Then, right before I lit, I turned the crock pot down to Low again, with a timer set to turn it off shortly before our meal (it was only an hour or so, but I don’t like cold meat!).
And… well, there are no pictures, because it was Shabbos already, but it was absolutely delicious. Delightfully flaourful – and more important, delightfully tender. We didn’t even need to get out the steak knives, which is a rarity around here! There wasn’t much more than the four of us could eat, but we’re pretty big meat-eaters and I’d kind of skimped on side dishes. If you had more people you could definitely stretch this out to serve 6, at least. And of course, if you buy a bigger hunk of meat, it will serve more people (food is like that).
Encouraged by this success, I have ordered another meat hunk for Rosh Hashanah. If I come up with any further words of wisdom, I’ll edit this post to let you know. But the truth is, this method (chuck it in the crock pot, season with wine and/or other yummy stuff) is so beautifully simple that I think it’s just about foolproof.
But if you have any secrets for me about any other ways to make meat in Israel that isn’t as tough as shoe leather, I’d love to hear about them in the comments!