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Watch.Learn.Cook with Canada Beef

29 Mar

Canada Beef


Did you know that Canada Beef, the organization that promotes beef grown across this country, offers a variety of online learning tools designed to help Canadians expand their knowledge of cooking with Canadian beef?

This month, the organization is inviting Canadians to Watch.Learn.Cook with Canadian beef using the helpful videos they’ve made available via YouTube, and as a Canada Beef Ambassador I get to help spread the word about these important tools.

Have you ever found yourself in the meat section of your local grocery store, staring at enticing cuts of Canadian beef on sale – but unsure of exactly what cuts you should buy and how to cook them? Canada Beef’s 30-second videos can be viewed from your smartphone or tablet in the store, making it easy to get a crash course in preparing different beef cuts. Check out these videos on the perfect pot roast, oven roasting (perfect for last-minute Easter meal prep!), or even barbecue roasting. If you’re lucky enough to be getting progressively more spring-like weather as we are in Toronto, the last one is definitely enticing for anyone itching to fire up the BBQ, finally.

Need more help than the 30-second videos offer? There are two-minute versions of these and many other beef cooking topics available, too. When you’re home from the grocery store and ready to play in the kitchen, these more in-depth videos are perfect.

Next time you’re facing an unfamiliar cut of beef that you want to try but need help cooking, check out Canada Beef’s informative video series.

Beef Roasts and Dirty Little Secrets

24 Jan

oven roast beef

Everyone has his or her own dirty little secrets. Some bloggers even write about those secrets. Up to now, I haven’t been one of those bloggers.

Here’s my dirty little secret for today: I’m quite comfortable in the kitchen, and there are few dishes I haven’t attempted to make, or wouldn’t consider attempting. But I’d never made a roast of beef until recently. I have no idea why, really. In theory, it’s dead simple. You find yourself a large cut of beef, prep it with a spice rub, or even just salt and pepper, and throw it in the oven for several hours until it’s done. Really, a roast does most of the cooking for you.

Of course, that may be why it took me so long to make my first beef roast. I like to play in the kitchen. My brain rationalizes cooking as an active thing—chopping, mixing, stirring. Putting something in the oven or a slow cooker and leaving it be just kind of freaks me out, I guess.

But my most recent assignment as a Canada Beef brand ambassador was to cook a roast of beef—which was exactly the nudge I needed to finally cross this one off my never-cooked list.

Canada Beef’s consumer information site, BeefInfo.org, has a ton of useful tips on making a roast of beef—everything from what cuts to look for, to how long to cook the roast, and of course, recipe ideas. I certainly scoured the site as I was figuring out how to tackle this meal.

One of the most daunting, and eye-opening, elements for me was how to buy a roast. Frankly, I always thought that a beef roast was a beef roast. But it turns out that there are several roast cuts you can choose from, which come from different parts of the cow. Premium roasts come from the loin and rib; they’re more tender, but more expensive. Then there are cuts from the hip. They’re leaner and cheaper. I opted for the latter category, buying a sirloin tip roast.

wet rub for meat

I made a wet rub for my roast, mixing 1.5 teaspoons of smoked paprika, a half teaspoon each of cinnamon and cumin, one minced garlic clove, a tablespoon of Dijon mustard and a few generous grinds of salt and pepper, plus a few drops of water to bring everything together. I covered the roast in the rub and let it sit in the fridge for a couple of hours so the flavours could work their way into the meat.

To cook my roast beef, I followed Canada Beef’s tip of starting the process by oven-searing the beef. Place the roast in a shallow roasting pan, and cook uncovered in a 450 F oven for 10 minutes, before reducing the heat to 300 F for the rest of the cooking time. To be honest, I didn’t think this got the best sear on the meat and I’ll try their alternate suggestion next time—searing on the stove top in a bit of oil, before putting it into the oven at 300 F.

roast beef pan

From there, as Tom Petty once sang, the waiting is the hardest part. Cooking time will depend on the weight of your roast and the degree of doneness you want from your meat. Check out the cooking time chart here for a guideline, but a foolproof method is to use a digital meat thermometer (the team at Canada Beef were kind enough to send all their beef ambassadors one to cook with); you select the type of meat you’re cooking, the doneness level you want (rare, medium or well-done), and the thermometer lets you know when your roast has reached the target internal temperature.

When my roast was done—I bought a five-pound roast to serve a small crowd, and was going for medium-well, so the cooking time was a little over three hours—I let it sit for 20 minutes or so before slicing. This is an important step if you want your roast to be tender and juicy after you cut it.

Turns out that all my food abandonment issues were for naught. The roast turned out great, and it gave us plenty of leftovers for lunch. And, really, what’s better than an easy, hands-off dinner that’s sure to leave you with bonus meals?

All About Steak

11 Sep

grilled steak Canadian Beef

When most people think about steak, they picture a thick-cut, well-marbled piece of beef cooked on a hot grill and enjoyed, maybe with some mushrooms, Caesar salad and a glass of red wine. While this isn’t wrong, it’s only one piece of the whole steak picture.

Did you know there are actually three categories of steak, with each category representing a different preparation style for different cuts of beef? Here’s a quick look at the three categories:

Grilling Steak: This category includes beef cuts that are tender and flavourful enough that they can be prepared very simply and cooked on a BBQ or indoors in a hot cast iron pan. When I’m craving beef, this is often what I want to cook. A great sirloin can seasoned with just a bit of salt and pepper, and maybe a drizzle of olive oil, then cooked to a perfect medium-rare. It’s a perfect meal for a beautiful summer evening, as far as I’m concerned. Check out this simple grilled steak recipe from the Canadian Beef website.

Marinating Steak: This is a steak that can be cooked on the grill, but needs a little more prep work to make the meat tender and flavourful. Cuts in this category are perfect candidates for your favorite marinade. Go Mexican with Carne Asada, or try some Asian flavours.

Simmering Steak: Simmering steaks need to be cooked slowly in liquid to ensure they come out fork-tender. Check out these simmering steak recipes for one-pot meals you can leave to cook in the oven or the slow cooker while you spend time doing other things.

If you want to learn more about different types of steaks and pick up a few cooking tips and recipe ideas, consider joining Canadian Beef for a Twitter party on Thursday September 13th at 8:30 p.m. EST. Follow the discussion using the hashtag #loveCDNbeef.

GIVEAWAY

I’ve been given a set of four CUTCO steak knives to give away to one lucky reader of Communal Table. I have a set of these myself, and they’re sharp and a good weight, with a comfortable grip – everything I look for in a good steak knife.

To win, just leave a comment telling me what you’d use your new steak knives for. A simple grilled steak? A blade steak simmered slowly in beer? Maybe teriyaki-marinated flank steak? Whatever it is, let me know. I’ll draw a winner from all comments left by noon EST next Sunday, September 16. Good luck!

Cutco steak knives Canadian Beef

 

Finding My Burger Personality with Canadian Beef

9 Aug

Canada Beef Burger Personality

What’s your burger personality? It sounds like a bit of a strange question, until you take a look at the chart above, from Canada Beef. It’s part of their new campaign to get Canadians thinking about one of everyone’s favorite summer BBQ meals, and what makes an ultimate burger. And since I’m a Canada Beef Brand Ambassador (as I mentioned a while ago), I’m helping to spread the word. You can check out a full description of all the personality definitions here, and get a badge to post on your site to let everyone know what your ideal burger type is.

After many years of trial and error, I’ve discovered that I’m a Naturalist when it comes to burgers. I’m not saying that I don’t enjoy fancy, kicked-up burgers. My mom makes amazing chipotle burgers, and there’s a burger joint in Toronto that tops one of their burgers with foie gras and bacon. I haven’t tried it yet, but I definitely have to soon!

But of all the burgers I’ve made in my own kitchen or on my BBQ, the ones I made a couple weeks ago stand out to me as a revelation. I started with ground beef from Rowe Farms, an Ontario farming co-operative known for their quality product. To that meat I added… nothing. Well, almost nothing. A few dashes of Worcestershire sauce for a hit of that flavour that only Worcestershire can give you, a few grinds of black pepper and a pinch of smoked paprika for some heat and smoke flavour that would only enhance how the burgers would taste on the BBQ.

I also abided closely to two rules that I’d heard many times before about burger-making, but tend to ignore when I’m in a rush to cook. I only mixed the meat enough to blend in the ingredients, and when forming the burgers, I made sure to form them loosely. The more you handle the meat, the tougher it can be when it’s cooked. And densely formed patties don’t cook as well or release juices as nicely as loose ones.

Finally – and maybe most importantly, salt the outside of the patties generously just before putting them on the grill or in the pan. The reason for adding the salt at this stage is, again, to keep the moisture in the meat, making the resulting cooked burgers tender and juicy. Salt is important to creating a great, flavorful  burger. But if you add the salt to the meat before you form the patties, and it’s allowed to season the meat for an extended period of time before cooking, you’ll end up with dense, tightly packed patties – closer to the texture of sausage than a hamburger.

If you’re looking for great burgers made the Naturalist way, it’s as simple as that. So now… what’s your burger personality?

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