Holiday meals are a great way to celebrate time spent with your family. Other than that, there are no rules you “should” follow, insists Michael Ollier, senior corporate chef for the Certified Angus Beef ® brand—especially during this season, when the most important thing is making a plan that works for your circumstances.
“If your usual traditions are going to be disrupted, I think it’s a great opportunity to try something different,” he notes. “Being flexible and creative will help you make the most of both the ingredients you have to work with and the experience you’ll have.”
For Ollier, the Easter meal is traditionally a brunch. But rather than a multi-course spread this year, he’ll be making an egg casserole for his immediate family, fortified with ground beef seasoned with some spice cabinet staples: lots of dried sage, granulated garlic, onion powder, and salt and pepper. Still brunch, still with loved ones, but a slightly different approach based on the number around the table and the ingredients in his kitchen.
“Being flexible and creative will help you make the most of both the ingredients you have to work with and the experience you’ll have.”
Gavin Pinto, the brand’s Test Kitchen manager, is still going to be cooking for his parents, wife and son, but his parents’ meals will be served to go, as they’re not sheltering together.
“I still want to cook for them like I usually do, but I’m coming up with a menu that will travel well and they can pick up on my doorstep,” he explains.
Roasts are a mainstay for some families, and Ollier and Pinto agree that if you have the ingredients and want to go that route, it’s a great option; however, the reality is you may not find the prime rib your heart desires in your local meat case.
“Grocery stores are doing the very best they can just to keep up with the skyrocketing demand for beef, so you may not be able to find the exact cut you want when you’re at the store, especially if you’re limiting shopping trips,” Ollier says. “Your best bet is to be flexible and work with what they do have—even if you’ve never bought that particular cut before.”
Pinto agrees, and adds that different cuts lend themselves to different preparation methods. If you can get a chuck roast or some short ribs, think about braising them for a wonderfully flavorful meal that’s just as memorable.
Highly marbled beef, says Pinto, offers an insurance policy of sorts to consumers in exactly this kind of situation. “No matter what cut you get, you’re starting with high quality, and that’s going to go a long way in ensuring you have a great meal,” he explains.
In addition, the chefs offer a wealth of resources for cooks of all levels that can help them be successful in the kitchen and navigate some of the variables. From detailed information on beef cuts to cooking methods, video tutorials, chef-tested recipes and a degrees of doneness guide, Pinto says the Test Kitchen team is ready to lend a virtual hand. Plus, the brand’s free Roast Perfect app helps you buy and prepare both oven and braised roasts.
An early spring in parts of the country has meant an early start to grilling season, too: an especially nice option that, as a bonus, helps bust cabin fever. Ollier and Pinto agree that steaks could also be an excellent choice for a special holiday meal. Grill them up and serve them with a seasonal vegetable, like asparagus, for a simple yet satisfying meal. Or, go bigger.
“I like to take a thick-cut ribeye or porterhouse, reverse sear it and serve it family style,” Ollier says. “It really brings the most important part of the meal to the forefront: sharing with your loved ones around the table.”
In short: don’t sweat the details and embrace the opportunity to be creative. It could be the start of some treasured new holiday traditions.
Free Resources for Cooks:
- Roast Perfect – a free app that helps you choose and prepare a delicious roast for your family. Includes options for oven roasting, braising and pot roasting.
- Beef Cuts Guide – learn more about specific beef cuts, including flavor profiles and recommended cooking methods with this searchable tool.
- Cooking Techniques – get the skinny on how to cook beef, from braising to broiling, stir frying to smoking and lots more.
- Degrees of Doneness Guide – target the perfect temperature for your steaks and roasts.
- Recipe Collection – let your imagination run wild with this extensive collection of chef-developed beef recipes. Search by cut, technique or key ingredients.
- Test Kitchen Videos – Chefs Gavin Pinto and Michael Ollier walk viewers through a variety of recipes and techniques. They’re a virtual master class in beef!
- Where to Buy – find your local grocer or butcher featuring Certified Angus Beef ® brand cuts. (Keep in mind, supplies at any particular location may be temporarily limited due to unprecedented demand.)