As Christmas approaches, one can't help but feel nostalgic. Though some seek to inject new ideas into their Christmas celebrations, many still yearn for their Christmas past. I for one yearn for the lovely Christmases I had when I was growing up. The wonderful food, the family togetherness and the presents are part of the warm memories I'll always treasure. I also miss not being the one to orchestrate the Christmas preparations.
Filipino Christmases center on food. There is so much work involved because there is a full spread prepared for everyone who drops by on the day. The food is not just light snacks but a main meal which has all the special dishes, usually served with rice.
Morcon is one of the heritage Filipino recipes served on special occasions. It is a beef roulade stuffed with special ingredients which usually include chorizo, sausages, ham, pickles, carrots and sometimes hard boiled eggs. Cooking it is a simple process. The only fiddly part is rolling the beef. The rolls are simply braised in a tomato sauce. I like my tomato sauce with a sweet edge for a rounded flavour so I added raisins and pineapple juice to this recipe. The result is a good balance between the sweetish sauce and the rich beef rolls. This dish is easy to prepare and a delight to eat. I hope you make this it a part of your Christmas menu.
Ingredients for the beef rolls:
1.2 kg. beef, sliced into 1/2 inch thick sheets
1 1/2 T. lemon or lime juice or juice of 2 calamansi
2 T. Worcestershire sauce
1/4 c. light soy sauce
1/4 tsp. ground black pepper 6 fresh sausages (remove skin) or vienna sausages
2 chorizos (medium sized, quartered)
smoked bacon strips or uncooked gammon steaks or ham
1 carrot (quartered)
pickles or stuffed olives
flour for dredging
2 T. butter
2 T. olive oil
Season the sheets of beef with the juice, worcestershire sauce, soy sauce and black pepper. Leave to marinate for at least 15 minutes.
Reserve the beef marinade for the sauce. Lay one piece of beef on a board.
Arrange the filling, laying them in the middle of the sheet.
The kind and amount of filling can be changed. I used uncooked english sausages (I took them off their casings), uncooked smoked gamon (or ham), uncooked chorizo (quartered lengthwise), carrots (quartered lengthwise), gherkins (or sweet pickles) and red pepper strips.
Roll tightly and tie with string.
Strain the remaining oil in the pan and use for the sauce.
Ingredients for the sauce:
oil used for frying the beef
1 1/2 T. crushed garlic
1 medium onion, chopped
2 T. tomato paste/puree
2 c. beef stock
1 c. pineapple juice
1/4 c. chopped sultanas or raisins
2 T. brown sugar
reserved beef marinade
reserved beef marinade
1/4 c. sherry
2 T fish sauce
2 T fish sauce
1/4 tsp. ground black pepper
1/4 c. grated processed cheese
Put about 3 T. of the oil used for frying the beef rolls in a sauté pan.
Add in the garlic and sauté until golden brown.
Add the onions and sauté until translucent. Add a pinch of salt and stir. This will help to soften the onions as it draws out the moisture.
Add the rest of the ingredients, except for the cheese and bring to a boil. Add in the fried beef rolls.
Put a lid on and simmer on low heat until the beef is fork tender (about 1 1/2 hours). Alternatively, transfer to a roasting tin or dish, cover with foil then bake at 350°F/ 180° C until fork tender. I favour the baking method because I can leave it to cook without tending to it.
If cooking on the stovetop, turn the rolls from time to time to prevent them from sticking. Top up the liquid as needed.
Take the rolls out of the sauce when cooked and leave to rest for about 20 minutes before slicing.
Meanwhile, reduce the sauce if needed, then add the cheese. Strain or puree the sauce. Pureeing will result to thicker sauce.
Slice the rolls and serve with the sauce. Spoon the sauce on a platter before arranging the meat on top of it or serve separately.
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