Create a New Tradition

Laura’s Lean Beef Instead of Turkey? Of course.

Yes, of course, turkey is tradition. It is what the history books say was served up on that first Thanksgiving, after all, and according to historical records, including a letter written by William Bradford, who was there, it’s true. There was turkey. But apparently, there was also venison. And we like to think, if there had been some cattle around? There would have been beef, as well.

So who are we to confine our choices, especially when what we want is beef? Our table always has at least one person who simply does not want turkey. Again. So the easy fix? Let them eat beef.

And, as is true in so many families, what my family insists not change are the side dishes. These days, the most appreciated approach is to serve up beef, but serve up traditional sides as well. No one misses the turkey!

The easiest preparation is to roast beef--ask the butcher to give you the size and cut your family likes best. Simple instructions: Season the roast and sear it in a Dutch Oven stovetop. Take the roast out, and add one sliced onion, two sliced carrots, two cut-up stalks of celery and a few sprigs of thyme. Place the roast on top of the vegetables and cook until internal temperature is desired degree of doneness. (We suggest you pay close attention to the USDA recommended temps here.) Remove from oven when done. Place roast on platter and cover with foil then a dish towel. Drain pan (Dutch oven) drippings into measuring cup. Skim about 4 tablespoons of fat from top of drippings. Return to pan with vegetables. Discard remaining fat, but save the drippings. Add 1/4 cup flour to the fat and whisk well. Deglaze with 1/4 cup red wine (or beef stock). Whisk in pan drippings (minus the fat at this point), then whisk in another three cups beef stock, making sure no flour lumps are left. Cook until thickened, then strain.

Make stuffing using your favorite blend of bread cubes (even pre-packaged stuffing mix) moistened with stock and a touch of butter. Place this all in a casserole and bake in the oven until softened.

With all other great sides, a little bit of sliced roast beef goes a long way.  While I typically plan meals based on serving four ounces per person, for a big meal like this I often take it down to two and a half or three ounces precooked weight per person: two thin slices of beef tenderloin. Of course, what’s a big holiday meal without leftovers? Go on. Cook too much.

We don’t think anyone will miss the turkey.


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