vodka-marinated beef

so much beef, so little money ::::

For years I had no interest in eating red meat. There was a fleeting twinge of hamburger craving, probably when I was anemic in college, eating nothing but rice and noodles. And steak? Forget it.

I know, I know. I can see your face. You’re dumbfounded. Steak? How can a meat eater not like steak? For whatever reason, I turned up my nose, sniffed for the grilled chicken, and refused to give beef a chance like I had as a child at McDonald’s every chance I got.

Then it happened. It turned me. I came back. It all comes down to Eat and how his stomach is bigger than his wallet — not eyes.

He merrily bought a seven pound prime rib roast one holiday to do a salty dry rub — which smells like heaven without the meat (just gimme a salt lick!) — along with various vegetables and snacks from a large organic grocery. When we arrived home, he exclaimed how he couldn’t believe how much he’d spent at the store. I mean he just bought groceries for $250.

Wait. What?  What did he spend the money on?

And so started my questioning. Did you look at the receipt? No. Maybe there was a mistake on the ringing up of items. No. How much was the meat per pound? Uh…

He had no clue. He had just purchased dry-aged prime rib — the best of the best — for 30 dollars a pound. $210 for the meat.  Uncooked. Without a waiter. Or wine. Or chocolate mousse for dessert with gold flakes sprinkled on top.

After I harangued him for not checking the pricing, he prepared the dry rub and I shuffled around chirping about finances and unnecessary sundries.

Then I tasted the meat. Everything was suddenly clear.  And fell in love again with red meat. If it hadn’t been for Eat’s appetite and selectively ignoring price tags at the meat counter and meat-tunnel vision, I may have never come back to the world of red meat. In fact, I think dry-aged meat is the best way to go for a really fantastic, deep flavor. You won’t be disappointed. Just remember to check the price tag and budget accordingly. Most of us, even those who selectively ignore price tags, can’t afford dry-aged beef often, especially in a restaurant. There are ways of making your own, but they require a roomy fridge and fairly controlled temperature (no opening and shutting of the door constantly). This set-up, I do not have, not even close.

Most recently, I ventured out to the same grocery store to buy some meat for this recipe, vodka already in the pantry for these lovely drinks. Overwhelmed with so many choices but not seeing the boneless sirloin roast or the beef tenderloin roast that I wanted, I asked the butcher if he had either. It’s in the back, he answered, and went to fetch me my requested 2 kilos. I waited, somewhat triumphant, that I had found a good deal for my desired cut of meat, even though I hadn’t asked for the price. It couldn’t be that  much, right? It wasn’t aged beef, after all. And then there was my frugal side, waiting to rear its thrifty head, checking price per pound, per unit, per bag. It’s in my genetics. I know how to shop for deals and find quality, without trying. It just happens.

After some trimming and wrapping, the butcher cheerfully handed me my meat. I scanned for the price — I won’t tell you how much it was. Apparently, genetics mean nothing to tunnel vision for primo cuts of meat. Not a single leftover was wasted. Minced, the meat was perfect as a filler for these Cornish Pasties. And we even had a few cold beef sandwiches.


vodka-marinated sirloin
Recipe type: meat
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 8
  • 2 kg boneless sirloin roast or beef tenderloin roast
  • 1 tablespoon coarse sea salt
  • 2 tablespoons crushed black peppercorns
  • 3 tablespoons finely chopped fresh parsley
  • 2 tablespoons plus ½ tablespoons dried thyme
  • 3 garlic cloves, crushed
  • ⅓ cup (1dl) vodka
  • ¼ cup (1dl) olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 4 tablespoons unsalted butter
  1. Rub the roast with the salt and pepper. Place it in a resealable plastic bag (I doubled mine to catch any leaks). Add the parsley, 2 tablespoons of thyme, and the garlic and pour in the vodka and olive oil. Seal the bag and place it in a bowl in the refrigerator for 2 to 3 days, turning the bag twice a day so the meat marinates evenly.
  2. Let the meat stand at room temperature for 1 to 2 hours before cooking. Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F.
  3. Take the meat out of the plastic bag; reserve the marinade. Heat a large nonstick skillet over high heat. Add the vegetable oil and heat until hot. Sear the roast on all sides, about 5 to 10 minutes.
  4. Transfer the meat to a baking pan. Insert a meat thermometer into the thickest part of the roast. Cover tightly with foil. Roast in the middle of the oven, turning once, for 45 minutes to 1½ hours, until the thermometer (or an instant-read thermometer) registers 130 degrees F for medium-rare; before the roast is done, pour the reserved marinade over it (about 30 minutes into cooking).*
  5. Transfer the meat to a cutting board and let it rest, uncovered, for at least 20 minutes. Set the baking dish aside.
  6. Just before serving, pour the cooking juices into a saucepan and heat gently. Stir in the unsalted butter. Season it with salt, pepper and the remaining ½ tablespoon of thyme. Strain the sauce and discard the herbs.**
  7. Carve the meat and arrange on a platter with the sauce on the side.***
* Important note on cook time: If you have a very slender piece of meat, your cook time will be greatly reduced. Mine only took 40 minutes to cook to medium-rare. Watch carefully so you don't end up with overdone meat. ** I felt the meat was good without the sauce. And that sauce was too salty for me. *** Leftovers? You have leftovers? Cornish pasties or cold beef sandwiches are a hit. Wine recs from the original recipe: Economy: Zinfandel, California, USA. Mid-range: Barbera (grape), Italy. Gourmet: Bourdeaux, France.



  • YSC January 14, 2012 Reply

    This is such a cute story! I’m really tempted to try that beef now (er, don’t tell my wallet…). Which grocery store did you guys go to? I’ve been searing skirt steak, but it makes the house smell like a steakhouse for a looong time afterwards, so much so I’d rather do something in the oven instead.

    • story January 14, 2012 Reply

      Whole Foods. Some readers may have figured this out, seeing as the place does have wonderful meats and produce….and known to be pricey.

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