A Baron for Sabbath Dinner

One of the things my dad loves to do is cook a large piece of meat, and I have called him more than once for tips on how he does it. When we would all gather at the lake for a family reunion, a baron of beef was usually on the menu, and the leftovers are perfect for french dip sandwiches.

So when round steak goes on sale, I try to get the butcher to cut me a baron. Now the definition of a baron is sketchy, so some butchers look at me blankly when I ask for a baron, and some knowingly nod and say they’ll be right back. I have a thirteen-pound baron which will make a public appearance on our Sabbath table tonight. And it’s the easiest thing in the world to roast, which explains why I love to prepare it. On top of that, it makes the house smell wonderful, and all my family will say happy things when they see it coming.

Here’s what you do. Rub it down with salt and pepper and thyme. Put it on a rack in a roasting pan. Set it in the oven at 300 degrees and wait. Roast your baron for about 20 minutes per pound if you want it rare, and 22-25 minutes if you want it medium. My sister-in-law Leslie’s advice is to watch it closely the last couple hours because it will rise about 20 degrees each half hour toward the end. When you get it out, let it sit about half an hour before you slice it up. At my house that honor goes to my son-in-law Luke who is our expert carver. I keep a manly apron on hand for him, and he stores a set of carving knives (and sharpener) at my house so he can perform his weekly service easily. I love to see him at work. He makes it look so easy.

Prepare to make some delicious gravy, and of course you’ll want potatoes of some kind to pour this gravy over. I use a couple of smallish pitchers for the gravy at our table because they are so much easier to handle than the gravy boat and ladle. (But you have to remember that I have lots of little hands at my table.)

I learned from Robert Farrar Capon (The Supper of the Lamb) to never add water to gravy. Broth, yes. Wine, yes. (And don’t tell him I said this, but a can of cream of mushroom soup will do wonders too.)

And though we had a roast last week as well, I doubt I’ll get any raised eyebrows if I put one on the table later today. They will all be too busy piling potatoes on their plates to remember.

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17 thoughts on “A Baron for Sabbath Dinner

  1. Have a wonderful Sabbath! Sounds delicious! I think of you all – and others I don’t know – who are doing what we’re doing each Saturday evening – celebrating and feasting, worshipping and fellowshipping – makes me feel connected to you all- and is a reminder of the promise of the delight ahead of worshipping, celebrating and feasting together with our glorious, majestic Lord of the Sabbath!

    Our Sabbath dinner is a bonfire tonight – we’re all excited about that! 🙂

    Happy Feasting!

  2. Corinne,
    Picture a 4″ thick round steak, about 14 inches long. I’ll try to get a nice picture of the outcome. And if it looks presentable, I’ll post it.

  3. Many thanks for sharing these ideas. Tonight my family is trying out the cheeses and smoked meats idea someone offered last week. I love and appreciate the multiple approaches families are taking to what has historically been a rigid and legalistic observance.

  4. Getting ready to read the chapter, “The Mysterious East” from The Supper of the Lamb. This books is a must read! Thanks for all your posts here on Femina.

  5. I, of course, had to go hunting for etymologies. I like the one in this article: “A Baron of Beef is alleged to have originated when Henry VIII was served a spit roasted double sirloin of beef and was so taken by the roast that he dubbed it Sir Loin, the Baron of Beef.” Read the link to see the difference in the meaning of a baron between the U.S. and Britain.

  6. So, for those of us not from up there with y’all…..if you are doing your sabbath dinners on Saturday night do you also do a big meal Sunday?
    It sounds like we do the same types of celebrations/meals just we do ours at dinner after church on Sunday, I understand there are good reasons for starting the sabbath of Sat night just curious what Sunday looks like then?

  7. Sally,
    Many families here have their Sabbath Dinner on Sunday after church. We simply opt for Saturday because my husband is a minister, and he enjoys the pre-game warm-up on Saturday night. However, sometimes because of a wedding on Saturday or other events, we celebrate after church instead. And of course some Sundays we have guests, so we have an official meal after church. Most Sundays after church we just take it easy and lunch is not anything formal at all. When I am on top of things, I will plan something for the crockpot (especially now that it’s fall) or have some cold cuts on hand for sandwiches. It is pretty rare that I actually have leftovers, but today we had enough roast left to make French dips.

  8. Monica,
    I used water for years, so it snazzed up my gravy considerably when I started using broth or wine, etc. I do use some very hot water to rinse any of the drippings out of the roasting pan. (I can’t fit my roasting pan onto my stove, so I pour the drippings out into another pan.) I used to be terrified of making gravy, and once I decided to take charge and refuse to be intimidated, my gravy started tasting lots better!

  9. Oh, gracious, that slide show started making me homesick – but in a good way 🙂 Can’t wait for Christmas to come.

    I’m sure the people who gather around your table are richly blessed in the gathering.

  10. Nancy,

    Instead of rinsing the drippings in the pan, you could deglaze it with wine. That makes for a very yummy gravy (and I have often added water, too…cream is a nice, different take on it as well). You don’t have to put the roasting pan on the stove, either. The wine will quickly help the stuck-on-good-stuff to come off, though a spatula helps, too. We raise beef and I had not heard of a Baron of Beef. I cannot wait to talk to our butcher about that. It will be on the list for our next beef harvest, so it may be on the menu for our Sabbath meal sometime, too.


  11. OK Nancy, I love your comment in the “comments”…

    “I used to be terrified of making gravy, and once I decided to take charge and refuse to be intimidated, my gravy started tasting lots better!”

    I’m sure a whole lesson/post could be made from that philosphy! (My solution to “taking command” of the gravy… I just asked my aunt today if her contribution to Thanksgiving could be help in the kitchen with gravy so it doesn’t turn lumpy.)

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