Beef Involtini from Good Meat by Deborah Krasner

A week or so ago we picked up our spring box of meat from Butternut Woods Farms.  This delicious grass-fed Highland beef was calling my name from our freezer.  Since it was a long weekend, and I was a good girl and got the house cleaned, laundry done, groceries bought, etc. on Friday, I could play on Saturday!

While sipping my morning coffee I paged through Deborah Krasner's Good Meat cookbook.  She specifically makes the recipes for grass-fed beef, which is cooked a little differently than the corn and chemically fed beef you get in your grocery store.  I decided on the Involtini.  It sounded delicious and it sounded like a great way to use a round roast other than a crock pot!


Lucky for me, the recipe called for semi-frozen beef.  Since it was Saturday morning and the beef was completely frozen, I figured it would be semi-frozen by the time we needed to slice it!

The beef needs to be sliced fairly thin.  Deborah gives several options for slicing it, with a very sharp knife, with a meat slicer or with your food processor.  I don't know how insanely large the food processor would have to be, or how incredibly tiny the resulting involtini would be if you used a food processor!

Lucky for me, in inherited a meat slicer from my mother.  It's typically used to slice bread!  I think this might be the first time it's actually sliced meat.



Once the semi-frozen meat is sliced it has to fully defrost before the involtini can be assembled.  I left it in the frig while we had appetizers and I made the paste for the filling.

The herb paste is a combination of basil, parsley, garlic, onion and olive oil.  The basil came right out of my herb garden.  I really should plant parsley.  I use a lot of it.  Next trip to Farmer's Market, that's on the list!  I had some buffalo garlic in the house so I used that.  And finally some good EVOO from, of course, the Olive Grove Olive Oil Company.  This is all thrown in the food processor and made onto a "chunky paste."




Once the meat is fully thawed, each piece is pounded thin between two pieces of plastic wrap.  I used another hand-me-down from my mother, this beautiful meat pounder.  I don't know why it's pink.  Maybe so the man of the house didn't use it for something else?  It's probably 40 years old, maybe older.  I don't ever remember my mother pounding meat!

 

 
Each piece of meet is slathered with the herb paste.  The recipe says to put it on 1/4 inch thick!  She must have had a much bigger roast than I did!  I just made sure each piece was covered.


A piece of pancetta or bacon is added.  I didn't have pancetta in the house but I did have bacon.  Honestly next time I think I would go get the pancetta, or even maybe some speck.  The bacon I had was smoked and delicious, but I think a little too thickly sliced.


The final filling ingredient is shaved Parmesan-reggiano, yum!


The meat is then rolled and secured with twine, toothpicks or not at all.  I chose twine.  Mine aren't nearly as pretty as those in the book, again, I think my roast was a little smaller.


The rolls are dredged in flour and browned in a little butter and olive oil.  This is where things started smelling delicious!



Once browned, white wine is added to the pan and the beef cooks for 45 minutes until it's tender.  I did have to add a little more liquid, the recipe calls for water, I used more wine!  Now the kitchen was smelling really good!


I started the plates warming after about 15 minutes.  I love my plate warmer!  No warm food on cold plates!  This sure beats what we used to do, putting a little water on the plates and sticking them in the microwave!  I highly recommend you invest in one!


While that was cooking I made my husband's favorite side, mashed potatoes and at the last minute I sauteed some asparagus.

The recipe says to serve the meat with the pan juices.  I like a good au juice, and this was really good au juice, but my husband pretty much requires gravy with his potatoes so I strained out the big bits of fat from the drippings and thickened them up to make an amazing gravy.  I'm not the gravy eater in the house, but I thought this was really good!

 

 
So how did they taste?  In my opinion they were as good as advertised!  The meat was tender and flavorful.  The salty, earthy flavor of the cheese came through along with the smokiness of the bacon.  And basil, who doesn't like basil?  As I expected, however the bacon cooked but it was thick and flabby and for me, unappealing so I picked it out.  I'll use something thinner next time.  My dogs were thrilled!

I love new recipes and this was a fun one!

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