I grew up with certain staple dishes. One of them was eye of round, which in Panamá we call lomo. My grandmother would make this, simply braised on the stove top. She still makes it and serves it with steamed carrots, and fried potato wedges. The fried potato wedges were really the reason why this was one of my favorite dishes: we only had home-made fried potatoes when this dish was made.
So one day, when I was in college, I was invited to a pot luck dinner and decided that I wanted to make this dish for the pot luck. I called my grandmother and asked for the recipe. She explained all steps to me over the phone, I took careful notes. Off I went to the store, and once I got there I realized I didn’t know what “lomo” was in English! You learn many things when you learn a second language, but no one ever gives you a chart with different cuts of beef, different cuts of pork, or separate sections of a chicken, or different types of fish.
If you love international cuisine, and you try to re-create these dishes at home, how do you find out what kind of meat is used in pho, or what type of fish is used in Peru for ceviche, what is the “chicharron” that is used for stuffing in Salvadorean pupusas, or exactly what cut of pork is used for carnitas? Some of these things are easy to find out with a simple internet search, others are not. Even if you do know what the cut of pork/beef/fish is, how do you communicate that?
Lost in Translation
Just a few weeks ago, I was back home and I needed to purchase some pork belly for the Final Charcutepalooza Challenge. Now, I’m from Panamá and I speak fluent Spanish. You would think that I could easily communicate “pork belly” to my butcher. Pork belly is not a common cut in Panamá, and people don’t really cook with it. I placed a special order, and explained to the butcher exactly what I wanted (at least I thought I did). First I received 7lbs of just the skin with a layer of fat. I explained to the butcher again, and this time I got 14 lbs of pork belly except it was sliced into sections with ribs still attached to the sections. Finally, on the third try, I got one piece of pork belly with ribs still attached which I removed myself.
After that learning experience, I was so excited when I received a review copy of The Art of Beef Cutting, by Kari Underly. This book is a how to guide of beef cutting. But my favorite part is that it includes international beef cuts and cooking styles. The book is divided into sections: chuck, rib, loin, sirloin, round, and brisket, shank, plate, and flank. In each of these sections, the author covers the basics, and also includes ethnic cuts showing you how to cut these yourself. This book truly is an invaluable resource.
Here is a sample page showing how the book walks you through the steps to get to a particular cut of beef:
Cover and sample page reproduced with permission from Art of Beef Cutting by Kari Underly © Wiley. All rights reserved.
Since I loved this book so much, I requested an extra copy to send to one lucky reader! To win, just leave a comment mentioning one of your favorite international dishes.
I will announce the winner via twitter or email on Tuesday December 20th.
To be eligible: You must submit a comment before midnight December 20th. The book will be delivered to one US based address. The giveaway ends on Tuesday December 20th at midnight EST. The winner will be randomly selected.
And here is the recipe to my grandmother’s “Lomo con Papas y Zanahorias.” This is a great recipe to make on a lazy Sunday for dinner, and you will have leftovers. I use leftovers in sandwiches, tacos, and even in meat ragu. After making it the first time, I realized that it could just as easily be made in the oven, so that is how I’ve been making it since then. I also came up with an easier preparation for the carrots and potatoes, that way they can roast in the oven as you braise the meat.
Braised Eye of Round with Potatoes and Carrots (Lomo con Papas y Zanahorias)
1 eye of round roast
1 bottle Italian dressing (Or Balsamic)
2-4 cups low sodium beef broth
1 package frozen pearl onions
3 large potatoes, sliced into wedges
3 large carrots, thickly sliced on the diagonal
1 tablespoon melted duck fat (or olive oil)
Salt and pepper
1. Season meat well with salt and pepper. Place in a large zip top plastic bag. Add in the Italian dressing and marinate for up to 24 hours.
2. Preheat oven to 350°F. In a Dutch oven with a lid, place the meat and dressing. Add beef broth so that the liquid reaches ¾ up the side of the meat. Bring to a simmer over medium heat. Cover and place in the oven. Braise for 20 minutes per pound. Add the pearl onions during the last 20 minutes of cooking.
3. In a baking sheet, place the potatoes and carrots. Toss with the melted duck fat or olive oil, and sprinkle with salt. Bake until tender and brown on all sides, about 40 minutes. Turn them halfway through cooking so that they brown evenly. (I typically put the Dutch oven and place the potatoes/carrots in a quarter baking sheet side by side in the oven so that they cook at the same time)
4. To make the sauce, place the liquid from the Dutch oven in the freezer so that the fat separates. Remove the fat, re-heat the sauce and serve with the meat.