Monday, 26 May 2008

Saturday night's dinner: Whole Rump

We had a few people around for dinner on Saturday night. I had wanted to cook the meal on an open fire at the back of the property but it being winter, wet and cold I decided to do it indoors instead. Camille had quite a bit of input into this decision. She isn't into being cold and wet even if there is a good fire to stand around.

We did a simple meal: French onion soup topped with gruyere cheese on homemade bread floaters to start with, followed by a whole beef rump cooked in a camp oven and accompanied by thyme roasted potatoes and a silverbeet/ricotta cheese tart.

The soup was basically onions, a bottle of reasonable white (reduced down), a splash of cognac and a couple of litres of chicken stock. Very simple and easy to make. Its topping was bread (made earlier in the day and then dried in the oven) covered with grated gruyere. Individual servings were ladled out and then placed under the grill to melt the cheese.

The beef rump weighed about four kilograms. I tied it with string to compact it and make a more even shape. It was then seared in the camp oven which had been heated to VERY hot on a large gas element. 6 large onions were quartered and sauteed in the bottom of the much cooler camp oven. 10 garlic cloves were peeled and added whole. A couple of carrots were put in to help keep the meat off the base of the oven. Lots of pepper and some salt went in as well. The meat was added, fat side up. The gaps between the meat the and walls of the camp oven were then filled with about a kilogram of whole button mushrooms. A large tied bunch of fresh thyme, rosemary and margoram was put in. A bottle of a good red wine was then added. More salt and pepper and, finally, a mix of mustard, tomato paste and a little more red wine was poured over the top of the beef.

Once the beef was up to speed, the lid was put on and the camp oven was moved onto the smallest gas element and left to cook for the next four hours VERY SLOWLY. It was turned a couple of times but for the most part it was left alone.

The potatoes were a waxy red variety, halved lengthways. The cut surfaces were brushed with olive oil and then sprinkled with thyme to cover them. They were then placed cut side down in a roasting pan which had a smear of olive oil on its base. The tops of the potatoes were then brushed with oil and sprinkled with salt. The pan was then placed in a 200 degree (celcius) oven for a bit over one hour.

The tart was simply chopped silverbeet, ricotta mixed with eggs, pepper and a bit of salt, some finely chopped onion and garlic. This was all combined and put into a flan dish (no pastry for this one) and put in the oven for about 50 minutes.

The beef came out very, very dark, well cooked but very, very tender. I removed it from the camp oven and covered it with tin foil and left it for half an hour while the liquid was reduced and then thickened slightly with a bit of arrowroot. This cooking method makes a very rich,flavoursome sauce/gravy. The mushrooms don't shrink away to nothing and they keep their texture - as in they aren't horrible squishy bits of mush. The onions mostly disappear. The carrots get discarded. Once the beef is sliced and arranged on a serving platter, the mushrooms and remnants of the onions are ladled out over the top of it along with some of the sauce. The rest of the sauce is served in a jug.

We ended up eating the main around 9:00pm. An excellent meal for a winter's night.


Rosie Kaplan said...

Wow that sounds good. I have a friend who has offered to supply a 4lb rump from their own animal. I know it died well. I just might cook this. Thanks rosie