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Sometimes it’s fun to tackle a complex recipe with many steps and lots of ingredients. Then there are the other times, when most of your brain’s processing power is tied up with something else, and you can only default to frozen pizza and take-out Chinese so often before the rest of the family — not to mention the family budget — start revolting.  At that point, you need something simple but tasty, like this:

Beef with Garlic and Three Peppers

  •   1 eye round of beef (about 2-3 pounds)
  •   about 5 cloves of garlic
  •   1 teaspoon Szechuan peppercorns
  •   several brisk grindings (coarse) of Tellicherry black pepper
  •   liberal pinch of cayenne pepper

Preheat the oven to about 350 degrees F.

Peel the cloves of garlic and cut them lengthwise into slivers.

Heat the Szechuan peppercorns in a cast-iron pan with a scant  pinch of salt until the peppercorns go from grey-brown to brown-black and start smelling wonderful.  Then grind them in a mortar and pestle.

Take the eye round and put it on a rack in a large roasting pan.  Stab the roast repeatedly all over with a sharp knife (a Fairbairn commando dagger or a Gerber survival knife works best, because of the diamond-shaped cross-section, but any kitchen knife will do.)

Put a sliver of garlic into each stab wound, pressing down so that the beef closes over the garlic.  Meditate upon efficient weapons design.  (This is perhaps the only socially acceptable use of a commando dagger.)

Sprinkle the roast with the cayenne pepper, and then with the ground Szechuan pepper.  Then take the pepper grinder with the Tellicherry black pepper and grind it over the roast until the top looks crusty.

Cook, uncovered, until a meat thermometer at the thickest part reads 160 degrees F.  (About 30 minutes per pound, depending upon the roast and your oven.)

Take out of the oven, and let stand for about ten minutes while you make rice or instant potatoes or thick slices of toast or whatever your personal code of roastbeef says should round out the meal.  Slice thin, across the grain.

Serve.

Say a regretful goodbye to your plans for the leftover roast and tomorrow night’s supper.