Girello Pot Roast

This Girello pot roast is the dish we most request whenever mum has the family over for lunch or dinner.  It has always been one of my favourite recipes of hers.  Unfortunately, as with most European cooks, my mother has never written the recipe down - it's all in her head, passed down to her by my grandmother through watching her and helping her cook this dish when she was a young girl herself.  As such, when it came to me asking her how she makes it, she gave me a list of ingredients and explained how to cook it, but provided me with no measurements.  When I quizzed her, she shrugged and said it's all in the eye, the hand and the taste, which didn't really help me.

I've since been cooking this dish for the last 20 years using only my mother's vague instructions, so I've become attuned to the flavours which make this dish as special as it is.  In order to transcribe this dish into a recipe that others can replicate, I've had to do a lot of guess work (such as measuring a splash of this, and a sprinkle of that), so please excuse me if it's not perfect.  Like my mother and grandmother, I tend to cook instinctively, so I add a little bit of this and a little bit of that, and no two times I make something are alike - I always like to change things up and throw in a different ingredient that can alter the taste of a dish entirely.  I must have taken after my mother as she tweaked her own mother's original recipe with the addition of soy and Worcestershire sauces.  Whilst they are a little unorthodox, especially in Italian cooking, I've left them in this recipe as I love the flavour they add to the dish.

In case you're not familiar with it, the Girello fillet is the very lean eye round steak.  It is a favourite cut of Italians, and we have many uses for it.  As it is a very lean cut of meat, it can become quite dry if not cooked properly.  I would never suggest roasting this cut of beef, rather it benefits from braising in a liquid stock which helps to keep it moist and flavoursome.  The stock can then be served alongside the meat to pour over it, as you would with a gravy.  All I ask is if you do decide to make this, please, please, please do not attempt to thicken the sauce in any way (using flour or cornflour), as the sauce is not meant to be thick like a gravy, rather it is meant to be more of an intensely flavoured broth.

1.2 - 1.5kg Girello fillet (long, lean cut of beef fillet - ask your butcher)
Olive oil
2 large brown onions
4 large garlic cloves
1/4 cup Soy sauce or Tamari sauce
3 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
Juice of one lemon
1/3 cup red wine
1 tablespoon beef stock powder, dissolved in a mug of hot water
Two dried Bay leaves
2 tablespoons dried oregano
Freshly ground black pepper
Sea salt flakes

Trim any sinew and fat from the Girello fillet.

Finely cut small pockets/slits into the fillet all over each side, avoiding the cut sides at either end, then rub a little pepper and salt inside each slit/pocket.

Finely slice two garlic cloves and insert a slice of garlic into each slit/pocket.

Cut each brown onion into at least 8 wedges each and set aside.

In a large braiser or rondeau pan, add a good lug of olive oil and heat the pan on moderate to high.

When the oil is hot, add the Girello fillet and sear it on all sides until it has browned evenly all over.

Remove the meat from the pan and set it aside on a plate to rest.

Reduce the heat to moderate and add onions to the pan, and a little more olive oil if required.  Crush the remaining two garlic cloves into the pan and saute the onions and garlic until soft, being careful not to colour the garlic.

Return the meat back to the pan.

Grind some black pepper over the meat (to taste), and add the soy/tamari sauce, Worcestershire sauce, and red wine.  Add the dissolved beef stock powder, lemon juice, Bay leaves and dried oregano.

Pour over enough water so that the liquid reaches halfway up the side of the meat.  Scrape any residue off the bottom of the pan and gently stir the liquid to ensure all ingredients are well combined.

Cover the pan with a lid, reduce the heat to low and simmer until the meat is cooked through, which should take approximately 25-30 minutes.

To check the meat is cooked, use a thin sharp knife and pierce it in the middle, as if you're attempting to lift it up with a knife.  If the meat falls away easily and juice doesn't come out of the cut, it is cooked.

Once cooked, remove the meat from the pan and set it aside on a plate to rest.  Turn the heat back up to high and reduce the sauce until it reduces slightly.

Slice the meat very finely and arrange it on a platter.  Pour the sauce into a jug or gravy boat and serve alongside the meat.

If there are any leftovers, place the sliced meat into a container and pour over the remaining sauce to ensure the meat stays moist.  It will keep this way in the fridge for up to two days.


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