By Faiqua Khalid (Dietetic Intern, Brescia College)
I have a confession to make. I am a dietetic intern at Canada Beef Inc… and I don’t know how to cook beef. Even though I love a juicy barbecued steak or a burger, I had never actually cooked with beef in my life.
Truth is, I did not always like cooking and never understood the value of home cooking. On my path to becoming a Registered Dietitian, I quickly realized cooking plays an integral role in the maintenance of health and an optimal nutritional status. As a student living away from home, I began to appreciate a good healthy home cooked meal and even started cooking for my family during my visits home – a surprise to my parents for sure! My inner ‘foodie’ was discovered and I realized I especially enjoyed trying new recipes.
While sitting in my temporary office at Canada Beef Inc. and staring at some delicious beef recipes, it suddenly occurred to me as to why I had not cooked beef before. The primary reason was I didn’t know how to buy it! Sounds silly but I’m sure I’m not the only one. I also assumed cooking beef would be complicated and be time consuming, so I just never tried.
A report by Health Canada on cooking and food preparation skills has noted some rather concerning evidence regarding the transition in food skills that our population is undergoing. The report found that overall populations are demonstrating lack of confidence in applying cooking techniques and in cooking certain foods. One of the many reasons for this ‘deskilling’ is the lack of cooking/food preparation skill development within the public school curricula, an important route in acquiring skills and knowledge1. This transition in cooking skills has potential adverse impacts on food choice, health and nutrition.
Canada Beef has done some very useful research on beef especially in regards to roasting it. They found there was much confusion among consumers around cut knowledge – see I’m not the only one! And the lowest knowledge levels were among consumers aged 25 to 34 – I fit there nicely as well. Also, a majority of consumers did not know the difference between pot roasting and oven roasting – do you? Here is an explanation I found useful ‘What’s the difference between a pot roast, oven roast or a premium oven roast?’
The 2 years of roasting research was also used to develop techniques to make the perfect roasts and these have been incorporated into many of the recipes.
All the talk about beef inspired me to try a beef recipe – finally! I bought a mini quick roast which is ideal for a couple or a small family. The cut was an Inside Round (I later learned that I could have also bought a tenderloin, rib eye, prime rib or top sirloin for an oven roast). You can find some very helpful and step by step instructions, including videos, here.
Interestingly enough, making the perfect pot roast requires a different set of cuts, such as blade, cross rib or top blade. I find it fascinating there are so many methods of cooking beef, such as roasting, stewing, broiling, and grilling to name a few and that each of the dozens of beef cuts is ideal for one (or more) methods.
The roast was probably one of the simplest recipes I have every tried – really! I seasoned the beef, stuck the thermometer probe through it and left it in the oven at 275º. I had set the thermometer to tell me when the roast would be medium done which was about an hour later.
I found using an oven safe digital thermometer to be extremely useful – otherwise, I wouldn’t have known when to take it out. The hour (or hours depending on the size of the roast) is very convenient as it allows you to prepare other dinner items.
Oven roast ready to pop in the oven.
I left the roast tented with foil for about 20 minutes so the juices can settle. It smelled wonderful!
Of course, some roasted veggies on the side.
The roast made a delicious dinner as it was full of flavour and was quite filling. And what an excellent way to get my dose of protein, iron and B vitamins! With the leftover roast, I made some very delicious beef sandwiches for lunch next day. It’s really impressive how a little beef can go a long way!
Cooking the roast beef really helped me overcome some of my misconceptions about cooking with beef. The experience has definitely converted me and I will continue to prepare more delicious pot and oven roasts in future, perhaps with more of the tender cuts. I urge anyone to try a beef recipe if they haven’t done so – you will not regret it!
So what’s next on my menu – Strip Loin Steak with Sauteed Mushrooms. Can’t wait!
- Government of Canada. Improving cooking and food preparation skills: A synthesis of the evidence to inform program and policy development. Health Canada. 2010. Available at: http://www.hc-sc.gc.ca/fn-an/alt_formats/pdf/nutrition/child-enfant/cfps-acc-synthes-eng.pdf