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Soup kitchen challenge: a big hunk-o-beef

So a few weeks ago I found, in the soup kitchen freezer, a large piece of beef which I took home for future use. Looks like this coming week is the future I've been waiting for. This is the plan:

We have one (maybe) 4 or 5 lb. boneless ham, which will be sliced and heated in some kind of sauce (maybe mustard maple something). There is also a food-service sized box of really nice looking thick lamb loin chops. I'll marinate them, then sear on the stove and bake through in the oven. And this big piece of beef. So, basically, a meat-fest, which will make all the clients very very happy. We'll also make some kind of potatoes and salad and some side veg. But my question is about the beef. It's about 5 lbs. and I can't tell what cut it is. Large and cushion-shaped with a bit of fat on the outside, so I'm thinking maybe a sirloin? The wrapping only says that it's Angus, which is totally meaningless to me. How would you cook this thing? Roast whole? If I do that, I would probably have to do it at home and re-heat on site - would that work? Slice before reheating? I don't want to over cook it in the reheating, but I won't have enough time in the morning to do the full cooking on site, so I'd have to do it at home. Another idea is to roast it at home, starting early early in the morning, then transport it whole to the kitchen and slice there. It should hold its heat for quite some time, I'd think. I can make gravy when I get there.

Help! You guys always have such great suggestions.

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  1. Another idea is to roast it at home, starting early early in the morning, then transport it whole to the kitchen and slice there. It should hold its heat for quite some time, I'd think. I can make gravy when I get there.


    1. My guess is that it is top round. Consider cutting it in 2 inch chunks and braising in a carbonnade or an old-fashioned pot roast style. Another idea might be to make a Chicago beef sandwhich, if you get more of those Subway uncooked rolls. Look for that sandwich guy's chicago beef recipe on Food network if you want to go that route -- I've heard high marks.

      1 Reply
      1. re: Terrie H.

        My very first thought was the same! Chicago Italian beef on Subway rolls!
        Cut it into manageable chunks, if your crockpot isn't big enough, cook on low with some chopped onion, oregano, thyme, beef soup base and some pepperoncini, with the brine from the jar.
        At the end, add a couple of green peppers sliced up, and cook til they are no longer crunchy. Shred or slice and serve with mozzarella on the baked rolls. In Chicago, they can be ordered 'diipped', which is dunked quickly into the beef juices in the pot.

      2. Posting a pic would probably help a lot. I'd be butchering this into cubes searing then making one hell of a hearty beef stew. Can sit simmering for hours, and you get to use up pretty much anything you have in the pantry.

        1. According to a friend who volunteers a day a week at a soup kitchen,bBeef stew for your clients would probably not be as well received as an identifiable piece of beef. It may be mysterious to you, but would probably be simple mystery meat to them.

          Contact a major caterer in your area, tell them where you work, and ask for roasting instructions, to include travel times and rest times. Then get yourself a sharp knife and serve your clients individual portions. I'm sure you'll get enough warm smiles to last through the depths of winter.

          1. I agree that it's most likely a piece of round. Using the Cook's Illustrated Slow-Roast technique, or
            whatever sous-vide method you can gerry-rig (followed by searing), it's possible to make a chewable roast beef but the round can have a livery taste and there will not be enough drippings for gravy so you'd have to make that out of purchased broth. If you miss your mark you will have leathery meat which will be a problematic if any of your clients have bad or missing teeth. It would be safer to make swiss steak or pot roast or some other long, slow braise. Although round is not marbled, it WILL get fork-tender (if stringy, because of the grain) if you give it enough time and don't rush it with higher heat.

            1. Great suggestions - thanks for your thoughts. As it turns out we seem to have come up with a second ham so I won't be doing the beef after all this week. But when I do use it I think I'll be inclined to something slow-cooked and maybe pulled. I was a bit queasy about the roast idea because, you're right, tough dry chewy meat is a nasty business. And since I can't identify the cut and have timing issues it was going to be a bit iffy.

              Until the next time...thanks again.

              1. I know you've all been sitting on the edge of your seats waiting to hear what happened with that hunk-o-beef I posted about a month ago. So here's the story.

                Turns out that a second - even bigger - hunk-o-beef showed up in the soup kitchen freezer. This gave us plenty of meat, we figured, to make of meal of it. By this time, we decided to make it a roast beef dinner. The others on my team were making mashed potatoes, salad and dessert - leaving me with the meat. Trouble was that as the hunks defrosted, I got more and more uncertain about what, exactly, they were. So I loaded the meat into my car, drove down to my local supermarket and dragged the meat guy out to identify the cuts. He told me that the original one was a top sirloin - ideal for roasting. The other large piece was a whole outside round. Not quite as ideal, but with enough fat on it to make it roast-worthy. Relieved, I drove the meat home, coated the outsides with Montreal steak spice and left them overnight. Next morning I threw them into my oven at 7:30 a.m. @ 400o. They were at about 130-140 by 10:15 - at which time I pulled them, wrapped them in foil and drove like stink the 30 minutes to the soup kitchen. By the time I got there, they were ready to slice into warming pans - actually they were perfect. I doused them in pan drippings and kept them just warm until lunch time.

                We served about 75 yesterday and got rave reviews!

                And now I am the proud owner of TWO MORE of the whole outside rounds - frozen - for a future lunch. Maybe in late February.

                That was a fun challenge.

                2 Replies
                1. re: Nyleve

                  I love your reports on this project. Sounds like a fabulous meal, congratulations!

                  1. re: Nyleve

                    You are such a rockstar at these challenges! So fun to read, too!