In our classes, March was beef month. We used this popular meat as the focus of each of our five dishes. Since we depended so much on beef, we sought the assistance of the fine folks at Collins Farms right here in Cusseta.
Jim Collins and his family are serious about quality beef production. They’ve been at it for over 70 years. Using modern genetics and nutrition, they breed special award-winning cattle. The flavor and color are rich and the flesh well-marbled. We sure had fun with this quality product. Plus, it was a treat when Jim came to a class and told his story first-hand.
A top sirloin roast was the first choice in our beef parade. This cut has great beef flavor but is not known for tenderness. We salted our cut overnight before a simple roast in the oven. All we did was to rub it with black pepper and olive oil. We cooked it at 225˚ until it reached an internal temperature 130˚.
The roast was a perfect medium rare and oozing flavor. We got the beef burst we wanted in the first dish
Next we used a traditional sirloin steak. With that cut, we created an interesting version of Swiss steak. The slices of steak were simmered in a mild tomato sauce. We wanted the beef flavor to stand out.
Stand out it did. This was a tasty dish and quite tender. Yet it still had the mouthfeel of steak. This was an outstanding experience.
For dish number three, we added even more flavor. For a long time, the traditional French dish Boeuf Bourguignon has been requested (We called ours beef burgundy). What seem complicated at the beginning turned out to be pretty simple. It’s basically three steps and long simmer. Not difficult at all.
Wow was this a taste sensation. We selected chuck as the cut. It was so tender and magnified by the mushrooms and onions. That blast of red wine and touch of Cognac didn’t hurt either. This dish can be served over rice or noodles with equal success.
Pure flavorThe time had come to back off a little. To get back to pure flavor. The vehicle we chose was meatloaf. The ground beef from Collins Farms is outstanding. Deep color speckled with touches of fat. It made for a fine offering.
The recipe was simple. A little onion and sweet red pepper combined with basic seasonings was it. We made croutons and then crushed those for the breadcrumbs. Sure was a nice addition. We baked our loaf on a sheet pan so any extra fat could drain away. Worked like a charm.
The result was pure beef tenderness using this simple straight-forward approach. A spoon of gravy was a nice touch. No glaze interfered with our enjoyment of beefiness.
Our final dish was pure beef. We selected a steak from the strip loin. This is a meat-lovers delight. It proved to be true for us. We used the reverse sear method and started our steak in a low oven. After a final blast of heat in a cast iron skillet, our steak rested before service.
This was a treasure. Luscious texture and a true expression of beef. We sure were pleased.
One of the best things we learned is that every cut we selected can be purchased at Collins Farms. These are available to the public, but need to be ordered ahead. Jim Collins will be happy to help you. He sure made our classes lots of fun.
Greek cuisine will be the focus in April. Come join us.
Jim Sikes is an Opelika resident; a food, wine and restaurant consultant; and a columnist for the Opelika-Auburn News. Contact him on Facebook at In the Kitchen with Chef Jim.