Saturday, January 11, 2014

An interesting failure (lemon and beef)

It may be that only the great Chef René Verdon himself could have pulled this one off. Or, perhaps some vital detail was left out of the recipe when the book went to press in 1963. For my part I, intrigued as I was by the combination of lemon and beef, was in the end forced to label the thing an interesting failure. It's because I took out of the oven and served forth a pot full of very, very lemony muscle fibers, tasting not remotely of beef. Any explanatory post-mortems, perhaps from people who know something of M. Verdon in his post-White House career -- his San Francisco restaurant Le Trianon, his five books -- would be welcome.

Meanwhile, feel free to try your luck.

Top sirloin lemon pot roast, from René Verdon's White House Chef Cookbook (1963)

1/2 cup lemon juice
3 slices lemon, quartered
2 Tbsp. minced onion
1 clove garlic, sliced
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. celery salt
1/2 tsp pepper
1/4 tsp thyme, dried
3 Tbsp flour, optional

1 five pound top sirloin roast
3 Tbsp melted butter

Mix all ingredients except the beef and butter in a small bowl. Cover and let sit in the refrigerator 24 hours. Oddly, it is this lemon marinade which just sits -- you will not use it to soak and tenderize the beef, although perhaps you should.

The next day, about four hours before you plan to serve dinner, melt the butter in a heavy stock pot. Dust the beef with 3 Tbsp. flour before searing, if desired. Brown the beef in the butter on all sides. 

Add the lemon mixture, cover, and simmer on the stove or in a very slow oven (at about 225 F) for three hours or until the meat is tender.

Serve forth, and hope. 

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