We’re Cooking: Roast Beef with Lentils, Roasted Mushrooms and Bacon

My grandmother, Doris, wasn’t really a cook…even though she owned a restaurant, Doris was a better “front of the house” person than back.  She did do a few things wonderfully well though, her cornbread dressing made with lots of Jiffy Cornbread; homemade pimento cheese sandwiches with tomato soup; and very special occasion pot roast, usually prepared because my cousin, Chablis, was coming to visit and Doris knew it was her favorite.

I remember my grandma spending all day preparing the beef….literally roasting it for hours and hours with lots of potatoes and carrots, until it was falling apart tender.  I have never been a big beef eater but the image of Chab and my Aunt Micki driving up our long driveway in Fayetteville, Arkansas and Doris pulling that roast out of the oven, with the savory aromas filling the air, and the joy we had to see the two of them still makes me smile.

Over the weekend I created my version of that pot roast, reducing the cooking time by at least half…if not a third…roasting it with lots of veggies, red wine and stock after marinating it for 24 hours in mustard, garlic, wine and herbs, and pairing it with a pile of steamy lentils with roasted mushrooms and lots of bacon.  The house had lingering aromas of delicious, succulent roasted beef for three days, taking me back 30 years to those days in my grandma’s kitchen in Arkansas.


Roast Beef with Lentils, Roasted Mushrooms and Bacon
For the beef –
1 three pound eye of round or other beef for roasting
1/2 cup Dijon mustard
7 cloves garlic – 5 cut in half lengthwise, 2 minced
2 whole stalks plus 2 tablespoons (chopped) rosemary
1 tablespoon fresh thyme, chopped lightly
1 tablespoon chopped parsley
1/2 tablespoon tarragon, chopped
1 red onion, peeled and rough chopped
1 white onion, peeled and rough chopped
3 carrots, roughly chopped
1 celery stalk, chopped
1 fennel bulb, roughly chopped
1 cup beef stock
2 1/2 cups red wine
1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar

For the mushrooms –
16 oz Cremini or other mushroom, sliced
1/2 cup red wine
1/2 tablespoon Worcestershire Sauce
2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
1 tablespoon parsley, chopped
1 tablespoon thyme, chopped
1 tablespoon rosemary, chopped
2 minced garlic cloves
Salt and pepper

For the lentils –
3 strips bacon, cooked very crisp, drained well and crumbled
1 tablespoon paprika
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon cumin
3 cups beef stock
2 cups chicken stock
1 cup water
1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
16 oz package of dried lentils
Olive oil
Salt and pepper

5-24 hours in advance prep the meat with the marinade.  Start by cutting a few slits in all sides of the meat and inserting the slices of garlic.  Then season generously with salt and pepper.  Then rub with the mustard and finally pack 2 tablespoons rosemary, 1/2 tablespoon tarragon, 1 tablespoon thyme, 1 tablespoon parsley around the meat.  Carefully place the roast into a plastic bag that seals.  Add 1 cup red wine and seal, pressing out as much air as possible.  Place the bag into a pan (just in case it leaks) and place in the fridge.  Over the course of the next few hours/or the next day, turn the bag several times to make sure you are marinating the whole roast.  When ready to cook, preheat the oven to 400 degrees.

Remove the beef from the bag and place in a Dutch oven on top of the stove over medium high heat with 2 tablespoons olive oil. Brown the beef on all sides.  When the meat is browned remove it from the pot and place it on a dish to rest momentarily.  Add the onions, carrots, celery, fennel and the two whole stalks of rosemary to the bottom of the pot creating a bed for the meat to side on top of .  Place the roast on top of the veggies with any accumulated juices.  Add 1 1/2 cups red wine, 1 cup beef stock, and the remaining balsamic and place in the oven uncovered.  Roast on 400 for 20 minutes with the mushrooms.

To prepare the mushrooms, add all the mushrooms to a separate roasting pan with 2 tablespoons olive oil, 1/2 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce, 2 tablespoons balsamic, 1/2 cup red wine, 1 tablespoon parsley, 1 tablespoon thyme, 1 tablespoon rosemary, 2 minced garlic cloves and season generously with salt and pepper.  Stir well to make sure all mushrooms are seasoned.  Roast for about 20 minutes, stirring a few times to make sure all the mushrooms roast evenly.  Remove the mushrooms from oven and set aside.

Reduce the oven temp to 350 and continue to roast until a meat thermometer reads about 145-150, turning the meat in the pot a few times to make sure it soaks up the juices. My grandma did cook her roast until it was well done….so this one was too, and simply falling apart….keep an eye on the temp if you want a more rare piece of meat.  Total cooking time was about 2 hours – 2 1/4 hours for ours.

Meanwhile prepare the lentils by rinsing them well and checking for any pebbles (that would ruin a dinner party quick), then add them to a pot on the stove with 2 cups beef stock, 2 cups chicken stock, 2 cups water, any accumulated juices from the mushrooms (just the juice at this point), the remaining Worcestershire sauce.  Season generously with salt and pepper and bring to a boil.  Add the paprika, cinnamon and cumin.  Reduce the heat to a simmer and cook the lentils until they are tender and the liquid is absorbed (about 30-40 minutes.) About 5 minutes before the lentils are finished add the mushrooms, remaining tarragon and parsley.  When the beef is cooked remove from the oven and cover for 15 minutes to let the beef rest.  After 15 minutes remove the beef from the pot on to a cutting board.  Carefully remove the rosemary stalks and discard.  Scoop out the onions, carrots, celery and fennel and add them to the lentils.  Leave the jus in the pot.  Slice the roast in very thin slices against the grain and place back into the pot with the jus, letting the beef soak up the juice.  Just before serving add the bacon to the lentils, stirring to incorporate all the flavors and check any final seasonings.  To plate, place the slices of beef down the center of a large platter and add the lentils to either side.  Serve with the jus and horseradish cream (if desired) on the side.