Simple Bistro Lunch

As part of a special six-part series called "Impress The Chef," each of the anchors was given an assignment: Prepare a home-cooked meal for resident chef Bobby Flay.

Tuesday, it was The Early Show's Harry Smith to show his skill in the kitchen.

After promising his wife to be more involved in cooking, Harry said, he realized it was time to use the roast he had picked up at the grocery store last week. He made do with the ingredients he found in the cupboard

Try his recipe for Roast Beef and Salad.

CLICK HERE for tips and funny outtakes for the series.

ROAST BEEF AND SALAD

Ingredients:

1 roast beef (You pick the size. This one was between four and five pounds.)
3 fresh garlic cloves
Chopped garlic to taste
Fresh thyme - generous amount to taste
Sea salt to taste
Pepper to taste
Chopped white onion - again, really to taste
Canola oil - enough to cover the bottom of a heavy skillet

Salad Dressing:

Ingredients - amounts all to taste
Canola oil
Red wine vinegar
Dijon mustard

Salad:

Romaine Lettuce

Method:

With simplicity being the order of the day, Harry let the roast sit on a countertop, bringing it close to room temperature.

He put three openings into the top of the roast with a knife and pushed three garlic cloves inside the roast.

Chef Bobby Flay later noted you don't want to put too many holes in your roast, because you don't want the juice to have too many places to escape while it's cooking. Otherwise, the meat can dry out.

After coating a plate with salt and pepper, Harry rolled the roast around and around to develop a generous coating of salt and pepper. Bobby Flay loved that Harry was generous in his use of salt and pepper because not only would it develop a crunchy crust outside the meat, but the meat (especially a simple supermarket roast) can really use the extra flavor. It might feel like too much salt and pepper at first, but you really need a generous amount so it holds up during the cooking.

Note: Harry had originally chosen regular table salt before his wife, sportscaster Andrea Joyce, reminded him they had sea salt in a cabinet. Harry and Bobby later agreed the sea salt was the right choice -- not only because of its crisper flavor, but also because it gives the outer coating a crunchier consistency when the roast is finished.

After rolling the meat in salt and pepper, and perhaps even adding a little extra on top, the fresh thyme should be sprinkled on all sides of the roast, also in a generous amount. Why thyme? It was what Harry had in the kitchen. Pick your own favorite herb if you prefer something else.

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.

The onion, some chopped garlic and and any remaining thyme (or other herbs of your own choosing) can be placed in the canola oil in a heavy skillet on top of the stove over strong heat.

When the oil is hot, brown the outside of the meat on all sides.

If you're tight on time (which Harry was) brown the meat a little more so it will cook faster in the oven. Once you're done, if you want, scoop out the garlic, onion and any herbs and either sprinkle them on the meat or place them in the cooking tray around the meat.

At this point, everything in the kitchen should smell good. One of Harry's goals was to knock Bobby out with the smell of his roast cooking, so at least Bobby would be welcomed by the smell, even if it didn't wind up tasting good.

Place the cooking tray in the oven for one hour. After an hour, (more or less, depending on the size of your roast), you'll want to start checking to see if it's done. Harry winced when he realized he forgot to put a thermometer in the meat, but Bobby had a suggestion. The chef uses a metal skewer (or anything that's handy and long enough) and pushes it into the center of the meat. Then he pulls it out and either touches the skewer to his tongue or his fingers. If the part of the skewer that reached the center of the meat is hot, then the meat is well done. If the skewer is cold, then the center of the meat is rare. If the skewer is lukewarm, you are likely between medium rare and rare, where most people want to be, with a pink center. Bobby Flay points out you really want to err on the side of undercooking the meat. You can always put it back in and cook it some more. Once it's overcooked, it's done and so are you.

Harry's was lukewarm and medium rare, as he had hoped. In fact, it came out better than he had hoped. While the meat continued to stew in its own juices on a countertop, Bobby and Harry prepared a simple salad. Harry likes to use canola oil, again because of its neutral flavor, and he mixed it with red wine vinegar and Dijon mustard. The mustard flavor comes out full with the neutral canola oil.

Bobby not only liked the salad dressing but the meat was an instant hit. It was pink inside and very juicy.