The clicking didn’t sound ominous at first. I was happily working around the kitchen while the self-cleaning oven was literally ‘burning’ through the clean cycle.
It was only when I went to put my roast into the oven that I realized I was ‘locked out’. The safety door lock had failed to release. This had happened once before when I first got the stove. We had to have a repair man come. After I declined his offer to man-handle the door to force it open, it took some ordering of parts and another visit to free the door and retain the self-cleaning function.
So my heart was kind of sinking to my stomach as I realized I had 7 pounds of eye of round roast on my hands. Eye of round that I had decided I was determined to figure out how to turn into a tender, flavorful feast of beef. And company coming in 3 hours.
I have had more disasters with eye of round…. like the time I tried to make Chateaubriand for two. Eye of round looks are so deceptive – like a giant tenderloin – lean, no grizzle- just lots of red meat. I didn’t realize as a new bride that this is one of the toughest cuts of beef on the whole cow.
I have tried various oven methods and slow cooker recipes. As a measure of success, or lack thereof – there is not one eye of round recipe in my ‘Tested Keeper’ recipe file. But with the price of beef what it currently is I was ‘motivated’ to try yet again!
It was this enticing recipe for Pico Island Roast Beef from Nelson and Liz’ site Photos and Food that had piqued my interest. (Pun intended!) Pico Island is one of the Azores islands. Since we are in the process of renovating an old farmhouse in the Azores it caught my eye immediately.
I do have to admit that since I had not tried it I was leary of having seven pounds of it on hand. So I decided to make the Pico Island Roast Beef with 3 1/2 pounds of it and Guinness Irish Stew with the other 3 1/2 pounds. The Pico Island Roast Beef marinates overnight so while I was at it I marinated the cubes for the stew in Guiness overnight too!
Now I have company coming in 3 hours, 7 pounds of beef, 2 recipes – and no oven. Considering how unforgiving eye of round has been to me in the past I was anything but confident. It was probably a good thing that I didn’t have time to consider the slow cooker. Because I would have defaulted to that and probably ended up with 2 more recipes that did not make the cut for my ‘Tested Keepers’ file.
Enter my trusty pressure cooker! (Those of you who know me may have jumped ahead to that conclusion.) I had to research how long to cook the roast configuration and how long to cook the cubed meat for the stew. I think one of the critical things is not to overcook the meat. It is a bit of an oxy-moron to want to cook long and low to tenderize but not overcook. I suspect that is where the slow cooker recipes have gone off the rails in the past. I think they might cook too high for too long. If anyone has a slow cooker tested keeper for eye of round let me know!
I have to to tell you -marinating time aside – I had two perfect dishes that took about one hour each. That’s right- I am telling you that you can make an eye of round roast in about 50 minutes of cooking time and an entire Irish Stew in an hour. And they were both delicious!
For the Pico Island Roast Beef I followed Nelson’s recipe for the ingredients and method except instead of oven cooking I put the roast and marinade in the pressure cooker and set it for 50 minutes. I let it release pressure naturally for about 15 minutes and then manually released the remaining steam. I tented it for 15 minutes, thickened the sauce while the roast was tented, carved and served. It is a keeper! Guests raved!
For the Guinness Irish Stew, I marinated the meat overnight in Guinness, browned the cubes, peeled potatoes, carrots and rutabaga and cut them into large chunks. This is important so that the vegetables don’t over-cook by the time the meat is done. For the potatoes I halved the larger ones and left the small ones whole. Carrots and rutabaga were about 3″ pieces. When I put it all in the pressure cooker I put the meat and sauce in first then the carrots, rutabaga and potatoes on top. I am not sure if it is totally necessary but I thought if the potatoes were out of the liquid, on top of the heat they might cook more slowly. All I can tell you is that it worked like a charm! Guests raved!
So now I have two recipes to add to my Tested Keeper category… and that clicking? That’s me clicking my heels in delight!