Black Coffee and Gin are Key
A North Chinese Secret
This delicious Roast Beef was the specialty of a small hotel in Beijing in the 1940s. Only we called it Pei P’ing then.
The hotel was popular with expatriates and served a basic Western menu with Chinese Fusion touches like this delicious dark-brown, fork-tender Roast Beef. Knowing the Beef came from places like the nearby Muslim butcher shop and had to be very lean and stringy, one wondered how they did it.
Years later, after the fall of the Chinese Mainland, the same family was running a small guesthouse on one of the side-lanes off Chung Shan North Road in Taipei. They still had a lot of foreign guests, mostly international executives/ And they still served their famous Roast Beef Peking Style 北京烤牛肉風格.
“We have a n excellent line of T Bone steaks,” Mme Ou-Yang said, with pride. “Many high people in the Government come just for that.” She had been the young daughter of the house the last time we met, and was now the silver-haired dowager. But she still never strayed far from the cash register.
Finally, she was persuaded to share her method for the Pot Roast. It seems that Black Coffee and Gin are the key to making the cheapest cuts of Beef tender.
Beef Roast Peking Style 北京烤牛肉風格
3 – 5 pounds Beef Roast
10 – 20 cloves of Garlic
1 cup Vinegar
2 tablespoons Oil
2 cups strong Black Coffee
2 cups Water
½ cup Gin
1 teaspoon Salt or to taste
½ teaspoon Black Pepper, or to taste
Use any inexpensive cut of Beef — Boiling Beef, Chuck, Brisket, etc. The Vinegar could be White Vinegar or Cider Vinegar. It will be discarded in the end.
Using a sharp knife, cut slits completely through the meat. Insert slivers of Garlic into these slits.
Put the Beef into a bowl and cover with a cup of Vinegar, so that it runs into the tiny Garlic slits. Put the Meat in the refrigerator 24 to 48 hours.
When ready to cook, throw away the Vinegar. Using a large, heavy pot with a lid, first heat the pot, then put in some Oil.
Brown the Meat on all sides. It should be well browned all over.
Pour two cups of strong black Coffee, two cups of Water and half a cup of Gin on top and cover.
Cook slowly at a simmer on top of the stove for six hours
Thirty minutes before serving add Salt and Pepper to taste.
There will be no flavor of Gin or Coffee left in the liquid. Just a rich, very dark Gravy which goes well with plain Rice or Boiled or Baked Potatoes.
The Vinegar, Coffee and Gin are the secrets to tenderizing the cheapest cuts and making them tender and succulent..
You could also add vegetables lie Carrots, Turnips or large Onions cut in quarters in the latter part of the cooking process and serve these alongside the Meat.
A similar concept, with different flavor emphases — for example Star Anise — is shown in Beef Pot Roast Asian Style.