Marinated Roast Beef and Alfredo Mushrooms
2 pats butter or margarine (2 tbsp)
1 package meatball-sized whole mushrooms
8 oz plain alfredo pasta sauce (1/2 jar)
1/2 lb beef shoulder or other cheap cut
8oz of your favorite bottled marinade
Before cooking, marinate beef for at least 30 minutes--the longer you let it marinate, the more the flavor will permeate through the meat, and the more tender the meat will be. The poor college student way to do this is to wash the meat under cold water, lay it fat side up in a disposable cookie tray, pour enough marinade over it to cover it, and leave it in the fridge. If you have saran wrap, use that to keep the marinade from evaporating--if not, a paper towel tied to the tray with a rubber band is an adequate substitute.
Once the meat is marinated, preheat the oven to 325 degrees F (163 C), set it to bake, and put the cookie pan inside--no additional preparation required! (tm) Thirty minutes is the bare minimum you should give the meat to cook--every second after that is precious, as the difference between rare and well done is maybe seven minutes, with medium rare being at about three and a half. Personally, I like my beef medium rare at 33 minutes, but what you do with your meat is up to you. Keep in mind that meat continues to cook until it cools down.
At the fifteen minute mark, open up the oven and pour on some more marinade on the meat for extra flavor.
While the beef is roasting, cut two pats of butter--each one just big enough to spread generously on toast--and put them on a skillet. Wash the mushrooms under cold running water. Put the skillet on the stove, on high heat. When the butter melts, add the mushrooms, stirring frequently with a fork or chopstick so that each mushroom is evenly coated. Continue to stir the mushrooms frequently until they are evenly browned, turning over each mushroom so that this is so. (If you've ever eaten at a do-it-yourself Korean barbeque restaurant, you know how this works.) Add more butter if you smell or hear burning, but be careful not to overdo it; you want as little butter as possible to be left on the pan, but you don't want anything to stick to the skillet because it'll be tough to clean off. (Resist the urge to add salt. The butter and alfredo should already have salt in them. Pepper and garlic are bad ideas, too. Trust me.) Go back to your skillet and stir in half a jar of alfredo sauce; lower the heat to about half to prevent the sauce from sizzling away. Coat each mushroom in alfredo and continue to cook until the juices in the mushrooms start to run out (you will know this has happened because the amount of fluid in the skillet will increase rapidly). Keep the skillet on the stove just long enough for the sauce to cook into the mushrooms and thicken, then take it off. Pour over cooked pasta or serve by itself.
By now the beef should be done, or close to it. Let stand for a minute or so--this will allow the juices to settle, says my beginner cookbook reference thing in its "Roast Beef" section--and serve separately.
Total preparation time: 30 minute marinating + 33 minutes cooking, if you're fast.
Feeds one, as always.