… of meat. No Al Capone, no bone. No South Side, no North Side. Just a lovely piece of topside. No ugly pools of blood on the floor; a pleasing little puddle on the plate.
About 80 years after the infamous massacre in Chicago, I began to write a blog, mostly about the food that Maggie and I were cooking at home. Unfortunately, the blog host I signed up with was woeful technically, to the point of inhibiting me from writing posts. Eventually, I discovered WordPress.com, created this blog and launched it by posting the small volume of material I had placed on the previous site. That was in July 2010. I added a couple of new posts but my well of creativity ran dry as I struggled with my parents’ need for my assistance at their home and in their daily lives. It would be early 2014 before I felt able and enthusiastic enough to resume writing.
Nearly 200 posts later, I find myself revisiting the oldest post on my blog, to which I had given the name A corner piece of romance. By the time you read this, that post – with the wrong font and devoid of photos – will be in the trash can. I hope you enjoy the new version, inspired by last night’s dinner.
A roasted corner piece of beef topside has a special place in our years together, dating back to the period from 1969 to 1972. Maggie and I met at a dancing class in 1968, began to date late the next year, became sweethearts and remained so until mid-1972. We often ate at each other’s family home. Our parents liked good food, could afford to pay for it and our mothers were both excellent cooks. Lucky us!
One of my strongest palate memories of the meals cooked by Maggie’s mother, Isla was a roasted, stuffed corner piece of topside. The meat was moist and flavoursome and the stuffing was delicious.
From 1974 to 2004, Maggie and I had no contact, partly due to the fact that I had left Melbourne and settled in Western Australia. From time to time during those three decades, I would try to replicate what Isla had served us, but the flavour always fell short of what I was aiming for. It wasn’t until Maggie and I were reunited and living together, finally, that my conundrum was resolved – the missing ingredient was sage!
Here is the recipe for how we make the stuffing, enough for a piece of topside weighing about 1.5kg. We like to ‘herb it up’, so we use the higher quantities of the three herbs.
20g unsalted butter
100g French shallots or onion
1-2 tsp Dijon mustard
3/4 cup of homemade breadcrumbs
3-4 tsp chopped sage
2-3 tsp chopped parsley
1-2 tsp thyme leaves
1 tbsp olive oil
pinch or two of salt and a generous amount of black pepper
1 egg yolk
- Heat the butter over low heat and sauté the shallot for 6-8 minutes or until soft. Add mustard off the heat, mix together.
- Place the breadcrumbs in a bowl, add the shallot mixture and stir briefly.
- Add herbs and olive oil, mix well, add seasoning, taste and adjust.
- Add egg yolk and mix well.
- Cut a pocket into the larger face of the meat, running to about 1cm from each end and at least half way through to the other side. Spoon in the stuffing and secure with toothpicks.
The cooking time varies from oven to oven and palate to palate. We roast such a piece at 180C for 55-60 minutes, then double wrap it in foil and rest for a good 20-25 minutes, fully expecting that the mid-section of the piece will need a fraction more cooking when we heat it up another day for a second main meal, with lunch sandwiches to follow.