In honor of my sisters recent re-addiction to fine quality cheeses (which I find hilarious!) I thought I would share one of my favorite uses for Havarti. Havarti is an excellent melting cheese but is so rich and creamy it is sometimes difficult to use for cooking without overwhelming the rest of your dish. It is also pretty expensive ’round these parts. I really only buy it for special occasions and I think having some friends over for an informal dinner fits the bill. Using the decadent cheese in a sandwich like this adds a nice and necessary layer of melty mouthfeel to counter the sometimes dry texture of roast beef. Pairing it with veggies lightly tossed with balsamic and roasted will cut through some of the overwhelming creaminess and add a nice underlying zip. I think placing Havarti on a sandwich like this really allows the flavors of the cheese to shine. I would serve this with some sweet potato fries and a green bean salad to round out the meal.
roast beef and havarti sandwiches
1 beef roast, apx 3 lb, tied and oven ready
salt and pepper
1/4 cup molasses
1/4 cup grainy dijon
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 red onion, sliced into 1cm thick rings
2 red peppers, quartered and de-seeded
2 portabello mushrooms, stems pulled and cut into quarters
1 Tbsp balsamic vinegar
sprig rosemary (optional)
harvarti cheese, at least 4 slices sandwich sized
4 individual sized ciabatta loaves, sliced in half and brushed with olive oil
Turn the oven on to 350*F. Heat up a pan large enough to hold the roast. Season the meat well on all sides and (using tongs) sear the roast well. Your are looking for good carmelization to draw out the sweetness of the meat and create a layer that will hold its juices in while the roast finishes in the oven. Once the roast is well seared set it aside on a plate. Let it cool slightly. Meanwhile prepare the rub by combining the molasses and grainy mustard in a bowl. Add a little water if necessary to thin it out to a brushable consistency. Smear it all over the roast. Place the roast in an oven proof dish and tent with foil. Bake for one hour, remove the foil then finish cooking until a meat thermometer placed in the center reads 155*F (rare) or a little higher if you prefer more well done meat. Remove the roast from the oven and let it rest (covered with foil) for at least 15 minutes. This allows the meat to retain more of its internal juices once it is sliced, and produces a more tender end result.
Aside: Obviously I recommend using locally sourced organic meat whenever possible. Try to find a nice beef or bison roast at your local market or organic foods supplier for this recipe. For those in Winnipeg interested in such things try contacting The Manitoba Grassfed Beef Association or you can pick up a bison roast at The Fort Whyte Center. Either would work well for this recipe.
While the meat is roasting merrily away in the oven prepare the vegetables. Toss them with the garlic, rosemary (leave the leaves on the stem and throw the whole thing in), a good glug of olive oil, and the balsamic vinegar. Season well with salt and pepper and spread the veggies out in an oven proof dish in a single layer. Feel free to add to the veggies I have suggested. If you’re a fan of zucchini, slice it up and throw it in, just make sure whatever you add is sandwich friendly in terms of its shape. Roast the vegetables in the oven for about 40 minutes or to your preferred doneness. Set aside but keep them nice and warm. Don’t shut off the oven! We’ll need it in a little bit.
Slice the roast as thinly as you can. It is helpful to use a carving fork to hold it in place while slicing. It is also helpful to use a sharp knife or a slicing knife. Don’t forget to remove the string before slicing the roast. It tends to detract from the ethereal experience of the sandwich if you find little bits of string in it.
Slice the ciabatta bread and lightly brush it with olive oil. Grill or toast the bread. Lightly spread mayonnaise on one side of the bun. Top the mayo spread side with sliced beef, then with veggies then with cheese. Place the sandwiches on a parchment lined baking sheet and pop them into the oven to melt the cheese. Top with the other half of the bun, put in some frilly topped toothpicks, cut in half and serve to your drooling friends.
Of course if you are cooking for one and have no drooling friends standing nearby never fear! Don’t slice more meat than you need (it will keep longer unsliced, less exposure to air and whatever contamination that may bring). Wrap the meat well. Put the extra veg into a container in your fridge. You can eat like a king or queen for the week. If you find the task of consuming an entire roast too daunting, simply cut it in half, wrap it very well and place it in a freezer bag. Make sure you label and date it before freezing it so it is less likely to be thrown out as mystery freezer meat a year from now. You can pull the frozen roast to your fridge and work on it in a couple of weeks. Either use it in sandwiches like the ones you’ve just made or make up a little gravy, some mashed and veg and served it for sunday supper. A little warm up in the oven should do nicely. Slice it and lay it in a shallow casserole with a little water or stock. Cover it and let it heat through. You won’t have a perfectly rare piece of roast but top it with a little gravy and none’s the wiser.
Happy cooking and good luck! Let me know how it turns out!