One of my favorite foods in the whole world is my mom’s roast beef. She made it for Shabbat dinner a lot when I was growing up and it reminds me of being little and eating challah and being home. It’s also just really fucking delicious, like possibly the best meat dish I’ve ever had in my life.
When my mom finally deemed me old enough to share the recipe with me, I was shocked by how easy it looked. Surely it can’t be so easy, I thought. This is my favorite home-cooked meal we’re talking about! But it is. It is so, so easy. It is also impressive and fancy feeling. This dish is perfect to make for a special occasion, like New Year’s Eve or Lemon’s 23rd Birthday Dinner, and it’s ideal if you’re trying to impress someone, like say your girlfriend’s parents or a potential make-out buddy. It’s a low-stress dish with a fantastic finish. Trust me, it is my favorite meal for a reason.
I checked with my mom to make sure it was okay to share her recipe with the Internet, as some people are secretive about what goes down in their kitchens, but my mom said it was a-okay and that she was “actually quite flattered” that I wanted to share it, which I found totally adorable. So without further ado, and with my mother’s blessing, let’s learn how to make the easiest, most impressive roast beef ever.
4 pound beef roast
2-4 large onions
extra virgin olive oil
red wine (any kind you like)
1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Make sure it is set to bake, NOT broil.
2. Take the roast and put it in the dish/container/Pyrex-thing you’re going to cook it in. It should be oven-safe (duh) and it should be a little bit larger than the roast itself. You’re going to be putting the roast, the onions and the garlic cloves in here together, so make sure there will be room for all (three of) the ingredients. Before you even touch the onions and the garlic, put the meat in the dish and rub salt, pepper, garlic salt, and mustard powder all over it. The key is a lot of mustard powder. Make sure you cover the whole thing — top, bottom, sides, etc. It’s going to get messy and that’s okay!
3. Peel the onions and chop them into quarters. Put them in the dish with the roast beef — the closer the better. Everything should be touching everything else.
4. If you want, peel fresh garlic cloves and put a bunch of those in, too. Not necessary, but I think cooked garlic is delicious. Use as many cloves as you want.
5. Pour 1/2 cup of extra virgin olive oil into the dish, covering the onions and the meat as best as you can.
6. Pour 1 cup of red wine into the dish using the exact same method you just used with the oil: try to douse everything. Helpful hint: Don’t let the wine splatter on your favorite t-shirt. Why are you cooking in your favorite t-shirt?! Oh, is that just me? Okay then.
7. Put the whole dish in the oven and forget about it for an hour! Check on it then but it will probably still be a little raw. You can slice into it and see what you think, or if you’re fancy you can use a meat thermometer to see when it’s actually done (I have never used one of those in my life, but if that’s your thing then I commend you). If you’re completely unsure if it’s done cooking and you do not have a meat thermometer, you can take it out and let it rest a bit, then slice it and if it looks too raw you can put it back in the oven once it’s sliced (it will cook quickly then, so keep an eye on it). Something to watch out for is that often the outside of the roast will look really perfectly cooked but then you’ll slice it open and it’s like, “Oops, you’re not done at all!” That’s okay, just pop it back in the oven and go make small talk with your fancy dinner party guests (or your cat, whatever).
8. Plate your meat! Include a generous spoonful of the gravy/juice, some green veggies to add a pop of color and make sure that each person gets a few onions and garlic cloves on their plate. Oh you fancy, huh? Yeah you are. Bon appetit!