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Eric Akis: Mustard and horseradish crust elevates top sirloin roast

With a bit of embellishment, a less pricey cut makes a tasty Sunday dinner
Mustard-and-horseradish-crusted top sirloin roast is served with pan gravy and Yorkshire puddings. ERIC AKIS

In the world of beef roasts, top sirloin never gets top billing, that’s reserved for pricier cuts, such as prime rib and tenderloin. But if you have a craving for roast beef that’s more moderately priced, tender and perfect for Sunday dinner, like a good character actor, it will perform very well.

Top sirloin comes from the sirloin sub-primal cut of beef. It’s located between the short loin, where cuts such as T-bone steaks and strip loin roasts come from, and the hip, where cuts such as top and bottom round roasts come from.

Butchers cut the sirloin into two sections, the top sirloin butt and the bottom sirloin butt. Top sirloin roasts and steaks, logically, are cut from the more tender top portion. The bottom sirloin yields not quite as tender cuts, such as tri-tip roasts.

Because of where it’s cut from, a top sirloin roast won’t be as richly marbled with fat, as a prime rib roast will be, but it’s certainly adequate enough to yield meat with fine flavour.

That becomes even truer if you slather the roast before cooking with a seasoned Dijon mustard/horseradish mixture like I did in my recipe. That mixture forms a crust on the roast as it cooks and when you slice it, each piece of beef is enhanced by it.

I decided to go old school and serve the roast with pan gravy and Yorkshire puddings. The latter being the style you make in a muffin pan that some also call popovers.

Those of you who have followed this column over the years will know my method for making them does not require you to pour the batter for them into a smoking hot, oil-filled pan.

Instead, you pour the batter into a cold, well-greased, good quality, non-stick muffin pan. The pan is then set in a hot oven for 10 minutes, the heat is then lowered, and the puddings are baked 35 to 40 minutes more, until puffed and golden. This method always works well, and you never burn yourself with hot oil as you might when using the other method.

To round out the meal, I also served the roast with mashed potatoes flavoured with tangy blue cheese and green onions, and some simply boiled carrot sticks and green beans, that I tossed with a bit of butter.

The roast yields four servings, or maybe a bit more if you have smaller appetite. If that’s too many for you, you’ll have some tasty leftovers to enjoy the next day or two. Or you could slice, pack up and freeze the leftover meat with anything else left from the meal to thaw, reheat and enjoy at another time.

Roast Top Sirloin with Mustard Horseradish Crust

Tender beef slathered with a Dijon mustard and horseradish mixture, roasted, sliced and served with rich pan gravy.

Preparation time: 15 minutes

Cooking time: see method and recipe Note

Makes: four to five servings

1 (about 1.14kg/2.5 lb) top sirloin beef roast

2 Tbsp Dijon mustard

1 Tbsp horseradish

1/2 tsp smoked paprika

1/2 tsp dried thyme, or 1 to 1 1/2 tsp minced fresh

1/4 tsp onion powder

1/8 tsp garlic powder

• sea salt or kosher salt and coarsely ground black pepper, to taste

2 3/4 cups beef stock or broth, plus more if needed (divided)

2 Tbsp all-purpose flour

Preheat oven to 450 F. Set roast in a shallow roasting pan. Combine mustard, horseradish, paprika, thyme, onion powder and garlic powder in a small bowl. Brush this mixture on the top and sides of the roast. Season the roast with salt and pepper.

Set roast in the oven and cook 20 minutes. Now reduce heat to 325 F. Cook roast to the desired doneness, allowing about 40 to 50 minutes more cooking time for a rare to medium-rare roast (see Note 1).

When cooked, transfer roast to a plate, tent with foil and rest 10 minutes. While it rests, make gravy by setting the roasting pan over medium-high heat. Add 2 1/4 cups of stock (or broth) and bring to a simmer, scraping the bottom of the pan to lift off any tasty brown bits.

Place remaining 1/2 cup of stock and flour in a bowl and whisk until smooth. Now whisk this mixture into the pan. Return to a simmer, and simmer a few minutes, until lightly thickened gravy forms. If the gravy becomes thicker than you’d like, add a bit more stock (or broth). Taste and season the gravy with salt and pepper.

When the roast has rested, set on a cutting board. Mix any juices on the plate into the gravy. Thinly slice the roast, against the grain (see Note 2), and then serve with the gravy.

Note 1: Beef roasts vary in thickness, why it’s essential to use an instant-read meat thermometer, inserted into the centre of the thickest part of the roast, to accurately gauge doneness. A rare roast is done at 120 F to 125 F; medium-rare will be 125 F to 130 F; and medium will be 135 F to 140 F. Remember that the meat will continue to cook when you let it rest before slicing.

Note 2: When you closely look at the cooked roast, you should be able to see distinct lines (grains) running through the meat. When you slice the roast, for tender meat, cut across those grains, not in the same direction as them.

Yorkshire Puddings

Here’s a no-fuss way to make Yorkshire puddings where you don’t have to pour the batter into a smoking hot, oil-filled pan to make them. You’ll need a good-quality, non-stick muffin pan to make them. Don’t use an old scratched pan, or they’ll likely stick. Recipe can be doubled.

Preparation time: 10 minutes

Cooking time: 45 to 50 minutes

Makes: six puddings

3 large eggs

1/4 cup + 2 Tbsp milk

1/4 cup + 2 Tbsp water

• salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste

• pinch ground nutmeg

3/4 cup all-purpose flour

• vegetable oil spray

Set an oven rack in the middle position. Preheat oven to 450 F.

Place eggs in a bowl and beat until well blended. Whisk in milk, water, salt, pepper and nutmeg. Now whisk in the flour until just combined.

Very thoroughly grease a six-cup, good-quality (not scratched) non-stick muffin pan with vegetable-oil spray (see Eric’s options). Pour in the batter, filling each cup almost to the top. Bake for 10 minutes.

Reduce oven temperature to 325 F and bake 35 to 40 minutes more, or until the Yorkshire puddings are puffed and golden and almost dry in the centre.

Set on a baking rack and cool a few minutes. Now carefully remove the Yorkshire puddings and set on a baking sheet.

You can bake the puddings many hours before needed. Once cooled, cover and keep at room temperature until ready to reheat and serve with the roast. To do that, once the roast is out of the oven and resting, uncover the Yorkshire puddings and pop them in the oven until warm, about five minutes or so.

Eric options: If you don’t have a six-cup muffin pan, grease six-cups of 12-cup muffin pan with oil spray and divide the batter between those cups.

Mashed Potatoes with Blue Cheese and Green Onions

Mashed potatoes nicely enhanced by mixing bits of tangy blue cheese and bright green onion.

Preparation time: 10 minutes

Cooking time: about 25 minutes

Makes: four servings

1 3/4 lb russet or yellow-fleshed potatoes, peeled and quartered

1/2 cup milk, warmed (see Note)

1 1/2 Tbsp butter, melted

• salt and ground white pepper, to taste

50 to 75 grams blue cheese, pulled into tiny nuggets, or to taste

1 large, or 2 small to medium, green onions, thinly sliced

Place potatoes in a pot, cover with cold water by at least two inches and bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Reduce heat until potatoes simmer gently. Simmer potatoes until very tender, about 18 to 20 minutes.

Drain potatoes, then mash thoroughly. Mix in the milk and butter until well combined. Season potatoes with salt and pepper, stir in the cheese and green onions, and serve.

Note: You can warm the milk and melted the butter by combining the two in a small bowl and zapping them 30 seconds or so in the microwave.

Eric Akis is the author of eight cookbooks. His columns appear in the Life section Wednesday and Sunday.