Walnut Crusted Roast: Beef it’s What’s for Dinner

Heather says:

 

Walnut roast with bleu cheese mashed potatoes, wilted walnut spinach, drizzled with a worcestshire sauce

Walnut roast with bleu cheese mashed potatoes, wilted walnut spinach, drizzled with a worcestershire sauce

I have to get this off my chest. Yum, yum, get your fork away from my plate, yum.

My husband’s grandmother recently celebrated her 75th birthday (Happy Birthday Nana!). His mother is planning a nice dinner after they return to Minnesota and she is on the lookout for a company worthy meal with low effort. Listen to me, this is it. Sure, it sounds all fancy schmancy, but the techniques are not complicated. With a good thermometer and the ability to resist the temptation to open the oven, anyone can make a good roast. The mashed potatoes could easily be switched with instant, it’s the blue cheese that makes them special. The wilted spinach? Can you heat oil in a pan? Then you can handle this. The Worcestershire sauce? If you can boil water, you’ve got it in the bag.

The recipes and nutrition information for the roast are after the jump.

To create this meal, start with the roast. You will have lots of downtime as you wait for it to cook, plan to begin at least two hours before you’d like to eat, longer for any roasts of 3lbs. Longtime readers may remember that I usually cook beef roasts with an initial blast of heat to create a nice brown exterior. This recipe is an exception, the walnuts would burn and no one likes burnt walnuts. Resist the urge to turn up the heat of the oven. It will be worth the wait. 

Here is the original recipe from BeefitsWhatsforDinner.com:

Walnut Crusted Roast with Blue Cheese Mashed Potatoes

Ingredients:

  • 1 beef eye round roast (2 to 3 pounds)
  • 4 cups prepared mashed potatoes, warmed
  • 1/2 cup crumbled blue cheese
  • Walnut Crust:
  • 1/2 cup finely chopped walnuts
  • 3 tablespoons finely chopped green onion
  • 1/2 teaspoon pepper

Heat oven to 325°F. Combine Walnut Crust ingredients; press evenly onto all surfaces of beef roast.
Place roast on rack in shallow roasting pan. Insert ovenproof meat thermometer so tip is centered in thickest part of beef. Do not add water or cover. Roast in 325°F oven 1-1/2 to 1-3/4 hours for medium rare doneness. (Do not overcook.)
Remove roast when meat thermometer registers 135°F. Transfer roast to carving board; tent loosely with aluminum foil. Let stand 15 to 20 minutes. (Temperature will continue to rise about 10°F to reach 145°F for medium rare.)
Meanwhile combine mashed potatoes and cheese in large bowl; keep warm.
Carve beef roast into thin slices; season with salt and pepper as desired. Serve with mashed potatoes.

And here’s how we prepare the roast in Heather’s house.

Although the ingredients for this meal were covered, I just couldn’t fork over the extra money for an eye of round roast when a bottom round roast was 3.5lbs for $9.16 (the top round was $5 a pound and they didn’t have any eye of round set out).  While I am familiar with many beef cuts I wasn’t exactly sure of the difference between an eye round roast, a bottom round roast, and a top round roast. The butcher happened to be loading the meat case, so I asked her to be sure it was an acceptable subsitution and here’s the skinny.

All three roasts are lean cuts from the rear quarter of the cow.

They differ in their tenderness.

An eye of round roast is the most tender. It’s your go-to when cooking to make an impression and the budget is flexible.

A top round roast comes from the inside upper portion of the rear leg. It is a naturally tender roast, but not quite as tender as the eye of round If you prefer your roasts cooked over medium, this is the more budget friendly option. It is also sold under the name London Broil.

Bottom round roasts come from the outside muscle of the upper leg. It is a tougher cut of meat, pot roasting, braising, or marinating are advised for cooking to anything more than medium rare.

Everyone in my family prefers their roasts rare to medium rare, which allows us to take advantage of the more cost effective bottom round roast.

Let’s meet our roast.

bottom-round-roast

Pull the roast out of the fridge 10 - 15 minutes before cooking

While today’s beef cuts are much leaner than those of previous generations, it is still important to check over your roast for any excess fat that needs to be trimmed. Set the roast aside, while the crust is prepared. If you are cooking a roast past medium, it’s important to make sure the fat cap is on top. As the fat melts it will baste the roast. I had no plans on heading anywhere close to medium well. The roast was set fat side down, where any melted fat would be caught by the roasting pan.

Preheat the oven to 325F. 

 

It smells even better than it looks.

It smells even better than it looks.

If you have a food processor, you could use it to chop and blend the walnuts, pepper, and green onions, but it goes quickly by hand and then has the added bonus of not needing to clean the food processor. Don’t process the mixture into a fine powder, the uneven chunks are part of the appeal, adding slightly different textures and flavors to the crust.

coated-roastPress this mixture firmly into all sides of the roast and then place the meat thermometer into the thickest part of the roast. Take care to make sure the tip is not in a fat pocket. How do you know it’s not in a fat pocket? Well, it takes more pressure to push the thermometer into muscle than fat, if it suddenly moves easily, push a little further until you feel resistance. If your thermometer has a temperature alert set it for ten degrees lower than desired temperature. Now, put it in the oven, close the door and leave it alone. 

When the alarm sounds, pull the roast out of the oven, cover it with foil and let it rest for 10 – 15 minutes. The internal temperature will continue to rise about ten degrees during this time and it’s busy redistributing its juices, so once again, leave it alone until it is time to carve. Slice thinly to serve.

Man cannot live on roast alone, which is why I believe we were given potatoes.

 

Mashed potatoes aren't easy to photograph

Mashed potatoes aren't easy to photograph

The quick and dirty version, mix up some instant mashed potatoes and stir in the blue cheese. Or, you can take advantage of the roast’s long cooking time and make real mashed potatoes. Personally, I believe Yukon Gold potatoes make some of the best mashed potatoes, it has to do with the starch content.

Tips for excellent mashed potatoes:

  • 1 lb of potatoes will yield approximately 2 cups of mashed.
  • Cut the potatoes into even pieces.
    This reduce texture inconsitencies from uneven cooking.
  • Place the chunks into cold, salted water.
  • Use a fork to feel if they are done boiling rather than relying only on a timer.
  • Drain well, give them a good shake in the colander to be sure all the water is gone.
  • Don’t use a food processor to mash the potatoes.
    Embrace some lumps, too much manipulation yields gluey potatoes. A mixer is OK, but don’t go nuts.
  • Heat the milk or cream but don’t boil it and don’t add it until the potatoes are mashed to your desired consistency.
  • Fold in additions such as today’s blue cheese.

Next up, the wilted spinach. This dish is so quick, you do not want to start it until the roast is quietly resting on the counter. 

Wilted Spinach with Walnuts

Ingredients:

  • 1 9oz bag baby spinach
  • 2 TBSP (approximately) olive oil
  • a small handful of walnuts

 

Walnuts in olive oil

Walnuts in olive oil

In a skillet over medium heat, place the olive oil and walnuts. Stay close by and stir the walnuts occasionally, as their natural oils can burn easily.

 

Toss with tongs

Toss with tongs

Once the walnuts begin to smell toasted, add the spinach and use tongs to turn the spinach until they are wilted as you desire.

wilted-spinach-with-walnutsSeason with salt / pepper and serve.

Lastly, we have the easy sauce that adds a lot of oomph to the meal. I learned this trick when I worked for an upscale steakhouse.

Worcestershire Sauce

Ingredient:

  • Worcestershire sauce
  • pinch corn starch, optional

Technique: 

In a small saucepan over low heat add almost twice as much Worcestshire sauce as you think you’ll need. Estimate a couple tablespoons per person. Turn the burner on low and stir once in a while. This concentrates the flavor by reducing the water content.  It is done when the Worcestershire sauce  has cooked down to approximately half of its original volume. If you’d like the sauce slightly thicker use a whisk to stir in a pinch of corn starch (don’t go crazy). That’s it. All done. Enjoy.

How was it?

While dinner is dinner in our house, sometimes I know a meal is better suited to adult palates. On those rare occasions, the preschool set are fed early so the adults can enjoy a fabulous meal without whining. All four adults and the teenager thoroughly enjoyed the meal. 

The roast was excellent, tender and flavorful and it’s a recipe I am filing away for future use. Any leftovers would make excellent roast beef sandwiches or French dips.

The walnuts, blue cheese, and black pepper used in the other dishes all have distinct, but complementary flavors. The Worcestershire sauce has a unique, salty, smoky element that gives a sharp flavor to counter the more subtle flavors. It’s an accent, not a gravy.  Treat it almost as you would horseradish or hot sauce. I am not responsible if you cover your plate in Worcestershire and hate it.

 

The nutritional rundown

This is straight from BeefitsWhatsforDinner.com

nutritioninfo

Enjoy and I do mean enjoy this recipe.





15 Comments

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  9. MaryChris on April 13, 2009 at 12:40 pm

    I love it…all my favorite stuff on one dish. I will be making it this weekend.

  10. Eyebee on April 10, 2009 at 10:13 am

    I’ve always loved a good roast beef dinner, since it was a regular thing every Sunday when I was growing up. This is certainly, a wonderful looking variation.

    The idea of blue cheese mash potatoes sounds really yummy, and I just love spinach. Adding walnuts makes it even more nom!

    Got to try this one out here, real soon!

    Heck, it’s only 10am, and I could eat that right now!

  11. Heather on April 9, 2009 at 12:04 pm

    Sorry Ron. I hope you don’t ruin the new one today.
    Becca, I really think the Worcestershire makes the meal. It seems so much like an afterthought, but it really pulls in all the flavors, so my advice is don’t skip it. You could even make it the day before and just keep it in the fridge.

  12. DC Becca on April 8, 2009 at 1:52 am

    We are having MY inlaws over next weekend….I think this is going to be the dish I (hopefully) wow them with. I am really excited about the wilted spinach and those potatoes! (And I am going to try so hard to resist opeining that oven door!)

    Kiddos will eat something else before us adults dig in…..the 13 year old and the rest of us grown ups will really enjoy this, I think!

  13. Ron on April 7, 2009 at 10:18 pm

    You owe me a new keyboard. Two days in a row I’ve gotten drool all over this one thanks to some stellar beef dinner recipes.

  14. Heather on April 7, 2009 at 11:34 am

    Thanks, it went over really well with my in-laws.

  15. kat on April 7, 2009 at 11:06 am

    Thanks! It looks yummmm…will have to give it go..

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