"I've spent most of my life doing kitchen battle, feeding others and myself,
torn between the desire to escape and the impulse to entrench myself further...
For even as I chafed at kitchen confinement, cooking had begun its long conquest of me.
Food had infiltrated my heart, seduced my brain,
and ravished my senses."
Betty Fussell in My Kitchen Wars
Betty Fussell, despite her sometimes ambivalence toward cooking, reached heights I have never attainted. And I'm certainly not going to at this stage of my life. But darn it, I keep thinking I can. Food memoirs like hers are among my favorite reading. Cookbooks are not only in my kitchen but beside my bed to be read like novels. I do keep trying but never more so than at Christmas. One recipe never fails and only gets made, for some reason, at Christmas. It is called Carne Mechada and my notes say it is from the November 1969 issue of Redbook. I no longer have the magazine but I remember the lovely young married woman the magazine featured in that issue because I have made it so many times since then. Here is the recipe, along with pictures that Defee took of the preparation.
Note: I usually double this recipe, but this time doubled it again...using 4 eyes of round!
1 beef eye of round roast
1 3 oz. jar pimento-stuffed olives, drained, sliced
1/4 lb. bacon, diced
1 medium-sized onion, chopped
2 cloves of garlic, crushed and chopped fine
1 tablespoon drained capers
1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
1/3 cup olive oil
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 box Rachel Ray Beef Broth
1 8 oz. can tomato sauce
1. Using a knife with a long, narrow sharp blade, cut a triangle shaped tunnel in roast.
2. Mix together olives, bacon, onion, garlic, capers, vinegar, olive oil, salt and pepper in bowl.
3. Stuff this mixture tightly into tunnel and save meat that is cut out to add later.
4. Heat a few tablespoons of oil in heavy Dutch oven over medium-high heat and sear roast on all
5. Remove from heat and slice into 3/4" slices. [R.H. uses an electric knife for this where most of the stuffing stays in the slices.]
6. Keeping roast together, return slices to the Dutch oven, adding the meat that was tunneled out.
7. Mix together the tomato sauce and beef broth and pour around the roast.
8. Cook, tightly covered, over low heat about 2 1/2 to 3 hours or until meat is fork-tender.
[Note: Since I fixed 4 of these roasts for our family Christmas party, I put all 4 in my large roasting pan, covered the meat with parchment paper and then covered the pan with aluminum foil, crimping the edges tightly. Then I used the "bridge burner" function and cooked these over the front and back burner. Normally, when I do 2 of these roasts, I use my large Le Cruset Dutch oven.]
If you want to thicken the sauce into a gravy, remove the slices to a serving platter and keep hot. Bring juices to a boil and stir in 1/3 cup flour mixed with 1/2 cup cold water, stirring constantly. Boil 1 minute, stirring constantly. Serve gravy with the sliced roast. I didn't do that this year, and yes, the sauce spread over the plate, but since I serve this with mashed potatoes it didn't seem to stop anyone going back for seconds and thirds.
I did the garlic mashed potatoes with olive oil this year, for the lactose-intolerant family members, and left out any butter or milk. I also cooked frozen petite green peas with sautéed scallions and College Inn Culinary Broth/White Wine and Herbs. Instead of making the homemade mashed potato rolls that I used to do, this year I used the frozen Bridgeford yeast rolls, letting them rise for 4 hours. They were almost as good as homemade. And for a salad I fixed my standby large crowd salad of scoring English cucumbers deeply with a silver fork, slicing them diagonally and spreading out on a pretty platter, sprinkling chopped scallions over, chopped parsley, and topping with a simple olive oil and vinegar vinaigrette.
I start making the Carne Mechada 4 hours early!
Then it was on to desserts, of which we only had pictures of the Viennese Sandwich Cookies I make every year.
I have enjoyed seeing many of my blog friends Christmas dinners and hope you enjoy ours. Is your kitchen battle over for the holidays or will you have a big crowd for New Year's Eve? And then the Super Bowl cooking is not far off.
People have to eat, don't they? And someone has to feed them!