Roast Beef with Coffee and Red Wine

Fred and I are officially sick of this recession, but the cats are thrilled: after Louise’s recent $437 dental extravaganza we can’t take any more of them to the vet for a while. Since we can’t afford to go out much in the evenings, our laps serve as cat-warming meditation pillows, ideal for contemplating ways to destroy rolls of toilet paper or the next spot for a good hairball incident, preferably in a high-traffic area frequented by bare human feet at the darkest point of the night.

As our house in Atlanta languishes with no buyer in sight, food remains the best of comforts for the feline and human residents of the Wise household. The roast beef I made over the weekend was a great example–a relatively inexpensive cut of meat braised in coffee and (cheap) red wine. We felt like royalty carving it and serving it with the luxurious sauce. The flavor of the sauce is unusual, most closely resembling a rich, smoky, thick au jus, with just the slightest hint of sweetness from the molasses.

The recipe is a modified version of an Italian dish. (I know it only as beef braised in coffee.) The sauce in the original version was lopsided to me when I first made it, lacking depth, so I added chili powder, cloves, molasses, a tiny bit of garlic, and a little tomato. The result was a great variation on the original, one we’ll definitely try again.

The cats also like the little bits that “fell” on the floor.

Roast Beef with Coffee and Red Wine

4 lb. rump roast, tied
2 medium onions, thinly sliced
3 tbsp. butter
Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
3/4 c. strong brewed coffee
3/4 c. red wine
1 tsp. chili powder
1/4 tsp. cloves
2 tbsp. molasses
3 tbsp. crushed tomatoes
1 small clove garlic, minced

Preheat oven to 325. Melt butter on medium heat in Dutch oven or oven-proof pot large enough for roast. Add onions and saute until translucent, about 5 minutes. While onions are sauteeing, rub roast with generous amounts of salt and pepper. Push onions to one side of the pot. Add roast to the side of the onions, browning lightly on all sides, about 3 – 4 minutes per side.

While roast is browning, mix together remaining ingredients. Turn off heat. Turn roast so that fattiest side is on top. Pour wine/coffee mix over roast. Use tongs to move roast back to center of pot; redistribute onions evenly throughout liquid, placing some on top of the roast. Cover and bake for up to 3 hours for a well-done roast and longer if you want it falling-apart tender. If you prefer a rarer roast, cook until meat thermometer inserted in roast reads 160 degrees; begin testing after about an hour and a half.

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