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Chef On A Shoestring: Beef Top Round

David Walzog is a man who knows beef. He is the executive chef at three New York City steak houses: The Monkey Bar, Michael Jordan's Steak House and The Strip House.

The Saturday Early Show gave him $30 to create a three course meal for four in the latest Chef on a Shoestring challenge. On our modest budget, Walzog made braised Swiss chard with andouille sausage; mushroom-stuffed beef top round with walnut couscous; and farmer's cheese pudding with caramelized citrus salad.

Terminology

Beef Top Round: This is the section of the hind leg of beef that extends from the rump to the ankle. Since the leg has been toughened by exercise, the round generally tends to be less tender than some cuts. There are six major sections into which the round can be divided: the rump; the four main muscles (top round, sirloin, bottom round, and eye of round); and the heel. The top round lies on the inside of the leg. It is the most tender of the four muscles in the round. Thick top-round cuts are often called butterball steak or London Broil whereas other cuts are referred to simply as top round steak. Chef Walzog selected this cut because it is cheaper than other cuts, but when cooked properly it has a lot of flavor.

Swiss Chard: Chard is available year-round. It can be prepared like spinach.

Blanch: Generally, blanching means to plunge food (usually vegetables and fruits) briefly into boiling water, then into cold water to stop the cooking process. Blanching firms the flesh and loosens the skins on such foods as tomatoes and peaches . It also heightens and sets color and flavor. However, blanching can also mean to partially cook food in boiling water. Chef Walzog will blanch the Swiss chard to partially cook it. Then he can add the chard at the last minute with quick-cooking ingredients, such as garlic and onions to ensure that all three ingredients will finish cooking at the same time.

Farmer's Cheese: A form of cottage cheese from which most of the liquid has been pressed out, farmer's cheese has a mild, slightly tangy flavor and is firm enough to slice or crumble. It's an all-purpose cheese that can be eaten as is or used in cooking. Chef Walzog warns that you should not use cottage cheese as a substitute for farmer's cheese, because you simply won't have the full "body" that farmer's cheese would provide. If you cannot find farmer's cheese to make the Farmer's Cheese Pudding, the chef suggests that you simply substitute12 ounces of vanilla pudding as a toppping for the Caramelized Citrus Fruit.

RECIPES

Braised Swiss Chard, Andouille Sausage and Red Pepper Flakes
Serves 4 Appetizer Portions

Ingredients

1 bunch Swiss chard, stem and leaves separated, cleaned, and trimmed
4 links andouille sausage (3 oz. each)
1/2 of a white onion, peeled and thinly sliced
4 cloves garlic, peeled and sliced
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
1 1/2 teaspoons red pepper flakes
1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
1 cup water
1/4 cup or approx. 2 oz. grated Parmesan cheese
1/4 cup or approx. 2 oz. corn oil

Method

In a large pot of boiling salted water blanch the Swiss chard leaves and stems until tender. It should take 2 minutes. Once the Swiss chard is blanched, remove from the water with tongs, and let the chard cool to room temperature. In a sauté pan add the corn oil and heat over high heat. Sauté the andouille sausage until brown and cooked (about 5 to 6 minutes). When the sausages are done, remove from the pan and reserve. In the same pan, add the sliced garlic and onion and sauté until tender. Be careful not to let the garlic and onion brown. Next add the blanched Swiss chard leaves and stems. Add 1 cup of water and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to simmer and then add the butter. Allow to cook for 3 to 4 minutes. Season with salt and red pepper flakes.

To Serve

Remove the Swiss chard from the braising liquid and put equal amounts into the 4 serving bowls. Arrange the cooked sausage on top and garnish with the grated Parmesan cheese.


Mushroom-Stuffed Beef Top Round with Dried Fruit and Walnut Couscous, and a Balsamic Vinegar Reduction
Serves Four

Ingredients

2 pounds beef top round, cleaned of any silver skin and any fat

Ingredients for the Mushroom stuffing:
1 pound white button mushrooms
3 cloves garlic, peeled and diced
1/2 white onion, finely diced
2 tablespoons fresh oregano, chopped

Method

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.

To make the mushroom stuffing: Wash the mushrooms. Remove the stems, and slice thin. In a sauté pan add a little bit of corn oil, sauté the mushrooms, garlic, onions, and oregano on medium-high heat. Cook for about 6 to 8 minutes. Then put all of the ingredients into a food processor and puree until semi-smooth. The processed mushroom stuffing should be about the same size as the couscous grains.

To stuff the beef: Using a carving knife, cut the top round into thin slices (you will get approximately eight slices from this) to create a thin long "sheet" of beef. Place the top round in between two sheets of plastic wrap and pound with a mallet to a consistent thickness. You want the slices to be no thicker than 1/4-inch and about the same thickness so that they will cook uniformly.

Season the beef with salt and pepper and place an equal portion mushroom stuffing into the center of each slice of top round. Starting from one end, roll up each beef slice. Gently tie the stuffed beef with cooking twine. Season the outside of each roll with salt and pepper. Place the beef rolls in a hot sauté pan and sear until brown. Move the beef rolls to an oven-proof pan and roast them for 20 minutes. The internal temperature of each beef roll should be 110 degrees F on a meat thermometer for medium-rare.

Ingredients for Fruit and Walnut Couscous:
2 cups semolina couscous
2 cups water
1 bunch watercress, washed, with stems removed and discarded
1/2 pound dried currants
1/2 pound golden raisins
1/2 pound dried Turkish apricots, finely diced
1/4 pound chunky walnut pieces
1/2 tablespoon unsalted butter
2 teaspoons kosher salt
1 teaspoon ground black pepper

To Prepare the Couscous:

In a small pot, boil water. Meanwhile place the couscous into a large bowl (a large bowl is key because the couscous will double in size when the water is added). Add the currants, diced apricots, raisins and the walnuts. Add the water to the couscous and cover with plastic wrap. Hold in a warm place for at least 8-10 minutes. Then add the butter and season with salt and pepper. Fluff the couscous with a fork before serving.

Ingredients for Balsamic Vinegar Reduction

2 cups balsamic vinegar

Method

Cook the balsamic vinegar at low-medium heat until it's reduced by half its initial volume .

To Serve

Divide the couscous evenly between four plates. Place two beef rolls on top of each portion of couscous. Spoon the vinegar reduction around the plates.


Caramelized Citrus Salad with Farmers Cheese Pudding
Serves 4

Ingredients for the Caramelized Citrus Salad

1 orange (zested, peeled and sectioned)
1 pink grapefruit (zested, peeled and sectioned)
1 blood orange (zested, peeled and sectioned)
2 tangerines (zested peeled and sectioned)
a little over 1/3 cup brown sugar
3/4 cup granulated sugar (not 1 cup granulated sugar)
2 tablespoon water (not 1 cup water)

Method

Mix all of the sectioned citrus in a large bowl. When you section the citrus into a bowl it will "leak" its juice. You will use some of that juice, so reserve it. In a small pot, add both sugars and the water and cook on low heat. You want the sugars to dissolve. Add the juices from the citrus sections to create a paste or syrup-like consistency. Bring this mixture to a simmer and cook for 4 minutes over low heat. Place the citrus sections into four oven-proof baking or serving dishes and generously coat the surface of the fruit with the sugar syrup. Place under a hot broiler and allow to caramelize. Watch carefully as it will caramelize quickly and can easily burn!

Ingredients for the Farmer's Cheese Pudding

1 pound farmer's cheese
1/4 cup sour cream
1 quart whole milk
8 egg yolks
3 tablespoons citrus zest from the fruits above
3/4 cup granulated sugar
3 sprigs fresh tarragon

Method

Place the egg yolks, sour cream and farmer's cheese in a large mixing bowl. Meanwhile, in a large pot over medium heat, bring the milk and sugar to a simmer. As the milk and sugar mixture warms, add the tarragon to allow it to steep in the milk. When the milk reaches a simmer, remove the tarragon . Add small amounts of the milk at a time into the bowl of eggs, sour cream and farmer's cheese, whisking quickly. By adding the hot milk gradually, you are tempering the mixture in the bowl so that the eggs won't curdle. When all the milk is added, place the mixture back into the pot and cook over medium heat, stirring constantly until the pudding is thickened. Cool before serving.

To Serve

Divide the pudding among four plates or even martini glasses. Then top each with the caramelized citrus salad. Garnish with any remaining fresh tarragon if you wish.