Playing in the Kitchen

Rather than buying pre-ground meat for the moussaka I made earlier in the week, we opted to buy a round tip roast and grind some of it ourselves, which was not only less expensive per pound, but left more options for the remainder of the meat. The roast was nearly 8 pounds altogether, and only two pounds went into the moussaka, so I divided the rest into some steaks and a more manageable-sized roast.

Round tip is a very lean cut of beef, so I thought it could benefit from a cooking method that would infuse it with some fat for moisture as it cooks. How fortunate, then, that I had just seen the inaugural Progressive Party menu from Kitchen Play: Paula from Bell’alimento prepared a main course of Manzo alla Panna, or roast beef studded with Parmesan cheese (rather than the more typical garlic and herbs) and braised in red wine and cream, to take advantage of the digital flip thermometer provided by the event’s sponsor, Sur La Table. It looked fantastic, and I’ve been dutifully squirreling away Parmesan rinds in the freezer for years, so this sounded like the perfect use for a few of them.

The roast turned out nicely. I used probably a cup less cream than called for, but ended up with a much paler sauce nonetheless, absolutely brimming with Parmesan flavor. I think I let the meat cook a tad too long, so it was closer to medium well and on the dry side, but that sauce really helped to elevate it.

To accompany the meat, I got to cook with some greens that were new to me. Looks like collards, right? These are actually organic kohlrabi greens—don’t you love vegetables that come with edible greens attached? It’s like an free bonus! I haven’t narrowed down how I am going to use the actual kohlrabi yet, since they are versatile vegetables that can be prepared any way from raw to roasted, but the greens were just calling out to be simply braised with a little garlic, salt, water and red wine vinegar. They tasted like they looked, namely very similar to collards, and were a good, hearty vegetable to back up the roast beef.

Finally, I made some unusual, fancified mashed potatoes to serve alongside the beef and soak up all that luscious gravy. These were Yukon golds, simply steamed along with pear and Asian pear for a hint of sweetness, then run through my food mill and stirred up with some leeks sauteed in butter. The pear flavor got a little lost—I suspect I just wasn’t bold enough in the amount I included, but most of the Asian pears needed a few more days to ripen (thanks so much to the SESNA garden coordinator, Marcia Hoak, for sharing the bounty from her tree!). Nevertheless, they made an ideal pillow for the roast.

To learn how to make your own Manzo alla Panna, visit Bell’alimento or Kitchen Play. There is even a contest for bloggers who try their own versions of the Progressive Party recipes, if you make them before the end of September. (Update 9/26/10: I’ve just been informed that this month’s contest has been extended through the end of October, so you have even more time to try making this delicious recipe—or any of the others from the progressive party—and enter to win a V-slicer or Dutch oven!)

Update 11/9/10: Believe it or not, I won the contest in my category! I was just informed that a Swissmar V-slicer is winging its way to my doorstep as we speak. 🙂

Update 12/9/10: I received my prize this week in an incredibly battered box. Wondering whether it would even be intact, I opened it up to discover an unscathed OXO mandoline instead of the advertised Swissmar. My Kitchen Play contact was not aware of the switch, and I still don’t know if Sur La Table sent it in error or just because the OXO model cost $10 less. In any case, I haven’t tried out my new toy yet, since there is a chance I might need to return it.

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