Family, roast, recipes create holiday feast
EDITOR's NOTE: The last day of Daily GLOB publishing for 2016 is a good time to share this Christmas story of love, family, friendship, great food and an extraordinarily delicious New York Strip Roast. Happy Holidays GLOBers!
It was over the St. Johns river and into St. Augustine to enjoy Christmas Day at the Heller-Sanford homestead for the GLOB Master and Gainesville Lunch Out Blog Content Editor Lynn Dirk. Visions of the biggest New York strip steak roast I have ever seen were dancing in my head as I rounded the turn onto old U.S. Highway #1.
All that was swept away by a story in the New York Times suggesting that, for a great holiday roast, tell the butcher to cut you a 5-pound New York strip steak roast. After the butcher cuts, rolls, and ties up this awesome looking roast, you will immediately wonder where this recipe has been your entire life.
On a day that seemed more like a beautiful spring afternoon than a December holiday, on arrival to the homestead, we were greeted by my daughter, Jana, her husband, Chris, 3-year-old Penelope, and two of the friendliest boxer doggies -- Marsha and Sassafras -- you will ever meet. WOOF! Marsha and Sass are two very happy rescue puppies who Penelope treats like her favorite brother and sister.
After a quick exchange of gifts, we were off to the kitchen to prepare a Christmas dinner that will go down in my books as one of the most yummy, deliciously fun ever for this eating professional. I'm a big recipe-following kind of guy, so at my suggestion, we created a menu of favorites that included:
- 6 lb New York Strip Steak Roast
- Upscale Mac 'N Cheese
- Pan Roasted Carrots & Onions
- Marinated Tomatoes & Mozzarella Cheese
- New York Style Cheese Cake
More than once on the GLOB website, I have made fun of cooks who add comments about recipes at cooking websites such as: "Thanks for the great Chicken Salad recipe. Instead of chicken I used Ahi tuna and included raisins and chestnuts for a holiday feel. Everyone loved it and I'm making it again."
I got a virtual slap in the face when I realized the box of multi-colored rotini pasta for the mac 'n cheese was missing. And there would be no grocery stores open on Christmas Day. Luckily Jana found a package of German Spätzle in the cupboard that Chris's mom had brought them from Germany. Spätzle to the rescue! It was so good I would use it again – even though it's not in the recipe!
The now German Spätzle Upscale Mac 'n Cheese idea is always a winner with blue cheese being the main ingredient. The rich and sharp cheese melting around chopped green and red peppers and celery creates an amazing texture and a flavor explosion that says "Not your mother's mac 'n cheese."
The NYT's story about the New York Strip Steak Roast had a lot of conversation/comments about the correct way to cook a roast. I was relieved that it appeared to be a split decision between cooks about whether to brown the roast before baking it. My daddy taught me to brown the meat first, because not only does it sear the roast, which keeps the juices in, but it also creates a wonderful au jus from the carmelized oil and seasoning on the roast.
Adding carrots and onions to the roasting pan and cooking the roast in its juices made for a delicious vegetable dish that rivaled the mac 'n cheese as this dinner's best side dish. In fact, we should have made more of those well done cooked veggies.
Jana was in charge of decorating the holiday table – including red and white holiday colors in the form of marinated tomatoes and mozzarella cheese and a beautiful green salad with lots of fresh veggies, but the cheese and tomatoes were so good, no one even got to the tossed salad.
When it was time to put the cherry topping on the cheese cake, Penelope was up on a stool and doing her part after repeating several times beforehand: "Grandaddy, I want to help make the cheese cake." She knew just how to place those cherries on the cheesecake with a signature Sanford/Heller flair!
I have to mention that one of the best Christmas gifts the GLOB Master received was a cookbook of faimly recipes -- including this cheesecake recipe -- Jana created that included many of the my favorite recipes I proudly shared with this fourth generation Sanford family clan.
Now, about this York Strip Steak Roast. What a fabulous idea I have never heard of. I have eaten my fair share of roasts GLOBers. Some were tough and not cooked enough. Some were tough and overcooked. Some were dry and stringy, and some were mushy. This one was truly delicious, and absolutely perfect.
Smart son-in-law Chris Heller had used a dry rub of different seasonings including rosemary, garlic, several peppers, Worcestershire Sauce, and salt and let it sit in the refrigerator overnight. The roast browned up perfectly and looked magnificent sitting in the pan surrounded by chopped carrots and onions.
BTW the au jus we created from the pan drippings was a special treat heavily ladled over the roast, carrots, and onions.
The grand feast was highlighted with the news that Jana and Chris will be building a new home just north of Crescent Beach right off of AIA. The very exciting part is they have decided to go "off the grid." They have found a green contractor who builds completely solar powered homes and will include a cistern to provide water.
The GLOB Master is very excited that Chris has agreed to share the story of their home's construction on the GLOB website by providing progress reports until the house is completed the Fall.
"What an amazingly delicious dinner with plate loads of leftovers to share," I said, thinking to myself the remaining chunk of yummy roast would make some really wonderful Philly Cheese Steak subs."