Eric Akis: Try a roast for a celebratory feast

Beef strip loin served with red-wine sauce is a sumptuous centrepiece to a festive meal

Eric Akis

If you need a meaty entrée to be the focal point of a festive meal, a roast strip loin is a fine option. It’s not hard to prepare, it’s boneless and easy to carve, the meat is tender and succulent, and things get even better when you serve it with a sumptuous sauce.

Beef strip loin comes from the short loin of the animal, located near the tenderloin, and is commonly cut into strip loin steaks, also called New York steaks. But these days, butcher shops and supermarkets with in-house butchers are also cutting strip loin into larger pieces and tying them into roasts.

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If you don’t see one on display where you shop, simply ask the butcher to cut a roast for you. You could also call ahead and order one.

For this recipe, which serves six to eight, I bought a four-pound roast. When shrinkage of the roast during cooking is factored in, it should provide about six or a bit more ounces (about 175 grams) of meat per serving if you wanted it to serve eight. The portions of meat will be larger, of course, if the roast only serves six. Either way, it’s a good amount of meat, as you’ll also be serving the roast with side dishes.

Strip loin roasts can vary in thickness, depending on what end of the loin they were cut from, and that will affect cooking time. That’s why, in my recipe, I have given approximate cooking times and instruct you to use an instant-read meat thermometer to accurately gauge doneness.

Through research and personal experience, I recommend you cook the meat to 120 F for rare, 125 F to 130 F for medium-rare and 135 F to 140 F for medium. Remember that the meat will continue to cook and rise in temperature when out of the oven and resting before you carve it. Just so you know, the roast in today’s photo was taken out of my oven when its temperature was 127 F in the very centre.

I served the roast with my version of marchand de vin sauce. Marchand de vin is French for “wine merchant.” So, not surprisingly, this sauce contains red wine. That wine, and the beef stock also in the sauce, are simmered and reduced until concentrated in flavour. When thickened with beurre manié (butter/flour mixture), you end with a rich and divine sauce that goes great with roast strip loin.

Note: For side-dish ideas to serve with the roast, check out my column next Wednesday. In it, I will be offering a range of holiday side-dish recipes to serve with roasts, such as beef, pork or turkey.

Roast Strip Loin with Marchand de Vin Sauce

Roasted, tender, succulent, easy-to-carve meat served with a rich, wine-laced sauce.

Preparation time: 10 minutes

Cooking time: Depends on desired doneness, see method

Makes: Six to eight servings

1 (4 lb.) beef strip loin roast

3 Tbsp Dijon mustard

1 Tbsp chopped fresh rosemary

• sea salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste

• marchand de vin sauce (see recipe below and Eric’s options)

1/2 cup red wine or beef stock

Unwrap roast and let warm at room temperature at least 60 minutes before cooking. This step will take some of chill out of the meat and promote more even cooking.

When ready to cook, preheat oven to 450 F. Place beef, fat side up, in a medium-sized roasting pan. Combine the mustard and rosemary in a small bowl. Brush the beef with the mustard mixture; season with salt and pepper.

Roast the beef 20 minutes. Lower oven temperature to 325 F and cook roast to the desired doneness, allowing about 50 to 60 minutes more cooking time for rare, 60 to 70 minutes for medium-rare to medium (see Note).

When cooked, set roast on a plate, tent with foil and rest 10 to 15 minutes.

While the roast rests, remove any fat from the juices in the roasting pan. Set the pan on the stovetop over medium-high heat. Add wine (or stock), bring to a simmer and scrape the bottom of the pan to lift off the tasty brown bits. Simmer wine (or stock) until reduced to about 2 Tbsp.

Pour the marchand de vin sauce into the pan and bring to a simmer. Turn the heat to low.

When the roast has rested, set on a cutting board. Pour and mix any beef juices on the plate into the sauce. Slice the meat and arrange on a platter or individual serving plates. Pour the sauce into a sauceboat and serve with the meat.

Note: Strip loin roasts can vary in thickness, which is why it’s essential to use an instant-read meat thermometer, inserted into the centre of the thickest part of the roast, to properly gauge doneness. A rare roast is done at 120 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.

Eric’s options: If making marchand de vin sauce is too much trouble for you, simplify things by serving the roast with red wine jus. When the beef is out of the roasting pan, set the pan over medium-high heat. Remove fat from the drippings in the pan, then pour in 1 cup red wine. Bring wine to a simmer and scrape the bottom of the pan to lift off the tasty brown bits. Simmer wine until reduced by half. Add 3 cups beef stock, bring to a simmer and simmer a few minutes. Pour jus into a sauceboat and serve with the beef.

Marchand de Vin Sauce

This sauce is rich and intense because the stock and wine used to make are both reduced by half, deeply concentrating their flavours. You can make the sauce ahead of time and reheat it. See Eric’s options for details.

Preparation time: 10 minutes

Cooking time: About 40 minutes

Makes: About 2 3/4 cups

3 Tbsp butter, at room temperature (divided)

2 Tbsp all-purpose flour

4 cups beef stock (see Note 1)

1/4 cup finely chopped shallot

1 garlic clove, minced

1 1/2 cups red wine

• sea salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste

Make beurre manié by placing 2 Tbsp of the butter and flour in a small bowl. Mix with your fingertips until well combined. Set the beurre manié aside for now.

Place the stock in a medium pot, bring to a simmer over medium heat and simmer until reduced to 2 cups (see Note 2). Remove from heat and set aside.

Melt remaining 1 Tbsp butter in a second small-to-medium pot set over medium heat. Add the shallot and cook two minutes. Mix in the garlic and cook 30 seconds more. Add the wine and bring to a simmer. Simmer wine until it has reduced to 3/4 cup (see Note 2).

Pour reduced stock into the wine mixture and return to a simmer. While whisking, slowly mix in the beurre manié, adding small amounts each time. Return to a simmer and simmer until the sauce lightly thickens.

Remove sauce from the heat, season with salt and pepper, and use as directed in the roast strip loin recipe (see Eric’s options).

Note 1: If using store-bought stock, use a type that has no salt or is low in sodium, because it will be reduced. If you don’t, you’ll end up with a salty tasting sauce. I used Kitchen Basics Beef Stock when testing this recipe.

Note 2: To gauge whether the stock has sufficiently reduced, pour it into a heat-proof, two-cup glass measuring cup. If you have more than 2 cups, return it to the pot and keep simmering. If you have less than two cups, top up with a bit of water until you have two cups. You can also measure the wine in this fashion, except, of course, that the reduced amount will be 3/4 cup.

Eric’s options: You can make the sauce up to a day before reheating it and serving it with the beef. If you do that, after it has cooled, keep refrigerated until needed.

Eric Akis is the author of eight cookbooks, including seven in his Everyone Can Cook series. His columns appear in the Life section Wednesday and Sunday.

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