Friday, January 21, 2011

Slow Roasted Beef (Cook's Illustrated)

I am a huge fan of roast beef sandwiches.  I prefer that my roast beef is rare, while my husband prefers medium. Either way, a fresh sourdough roll with mayo and deli mustard, Swiss cheese and sweet pickles is my winning formula.

NOTE UPDATE ON JULY 1, 2014:  Wow! This photo has gone viral on Reddit!  It's funny to read the comments-- that this meat is raw. It's fake. It has face with a tongue sticking out (funny, and true...never noticed that before.)  Let me say one thing-- this roast beef was bomb-diggity. Yes. it's cooked exactly the way I like it!  If it's too rare for y'all, then cook it some more. One person said it would dry up in 10 minutes and be a dry roast.  Nope. Didn't happen.  Anyway-- welcome Reddit Army!   I'm cooking for real, without any photo shopping. Please be nice, and not steal this photo without linking back to this blog. I have some work to do, as I see it's been done. Thank you!

The problem is finding good deli roast beef. I often wonder how long the beef has been in it's shrink wrap package, and I prefer to eat grass-fed beef.  I spotted a recipe in a food magazine (and I won't name it) for Salt-Encrusted Beef. I've always wanted to try the technique of making a salt-flour dough and wrapping it around beef.  The magazine photo looked delicious. But...

..I ended up with an unappetizing piece of gray meat.  I was so disappointed that even though I had cooked the meat to 130F, the meat continued to cook until it was well past done!  Contrary to the recipe, I should have taken the meat out at 120F, and maybe I would have had better luck. In short, this recipe was a total bust, and  I ended up caramelizing a lot of onion so I could make a palatable sandwich out of gray shoe leather.  Unfortunately, the meat was very dry and I never posted that recipe. You can thank me for that!

While flipping through one of my many Cook's Illustrated cookbooks,  this version of Slow Roasted Beef (January 2008) caught my attention.   I always enjoy reading the article that precedes their recipes because Cook's Illustrated does a lot of homework to perfect each recipe-- and I have to say that I have yet to be disappointed.  Here's a portion of the article, so that you can understand why this recipe worked:
First step: selecting the best cut for our roast. Our favorite, the eye-round, has good flavor and tenderness and a uniform shape that guarantees even cooking. Next step: choosing between the two classic methods for roasting meat—high and fast or low and slow. Low temperature was the way to go. Keeping the meat's internal temperature below 122 degrees as long as possible allowed the meat's enzymes to act as natural tenderizers, breaking down its tough connective tissue (this action stops at 122 degrees). Since most ovens don't heat below 200 degrees, we needed to devise a special method to lengthen this tenderizing period. We roasted the meat at 225 degrees (after searing it to give the meat a crusty exterior) and shut off the oven when the roast reached 115 degrees. The meat stayed below 122 degrees an extra 30 minutes, allowing the enzymes to continue their work before the temperature reached 130 degrees for medium-rare. Final step: seasoning. Salting the meat a full 24 hours before roasting made it even more tender and seasoned the roast throughout.
I made this recipe several months ago, but I wasn't thrilled with the photos.  Since I'm home, healing from a winter cold, I'm editing some of the numerous food photos that I've been too busy to work on.  I'm going to make this again, so I thought I'd share it with you-- overexposed photos and all...

On Cook's Illustrated's recommendation, I bought 2 pounds of grass-fed eye-round.  The cost was $5.99 per pound, and I think it's well worth it.  Grass-fed beef is leaner, by the way.  It also tastes better,  has a nice texture to it and it's hormone-free.  What's not to love about that?

Sprinkle all sides of roast evenly with salt. Wrap with plastic wrap and refrigerate 18 to 24 hours.

Pat roast dry with paper towels; rub with 2 teaspoons oil and sprinkle all sides evenly with pepper.

Heat remaining tablespoon oil in 12-inch skillet over medium-high heat until starting to smoke. Sear roast until browned on all sides, 3 to 4 minutes per side.(Sorry, the shot is a bit out of focus. I was using my older camera, which didn't shoot well in low light.)  Now, Roast until meat-probe thermometer or instant-read thermometer inserted into center of roast registers 115 degrees for medium-rare, 1 1/4 to 1 3/4 hours, or 125 degrees for medium, 1 3/4 to 2 1/4 hours.

Turn oven off; leave roast in oven, without opening door, until meat-probe thermometer or instant-read thermometer inserted into center of roast registers 130 degrees for medium-rare or 140 degrees for medium, 30 to 50 minutes longer.

I have to say that my therma pen is one of my many favorite kitchen tools.  It's accurate and has saved me from overcooking a lot of meat dishes!  Now, that's what we're talking about! The color is beautiful and appetizing.  Transfer roast to carving board and let rest 15 minutes.

Slice meat crosswise as thinly as possible and serve. The beef was juicy and flavorful.  Next time, I'm adding garlic powder or my Susie-Q seasoning to give it more of an Italian flair.

This would be excellent served with creamy mashed potatoes and peas-- how traditional is that? This roast beef was destined for sandwiches....

I'm not thrilled with how the sandwich photo turned out. You'll have to take my word that I am very pleased to be able to make my own roast beef, at home.  My hat's off to Cook's Illustrated. This one is a winner. In a way, this beef reminds me of the Santa Maria Tri-Tip recipe (without the unique smokey flavor) that I got from Cook's Illustrated.  It's too cold to grill, so an oven method like this is a great winter substitute.

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If you still can't view the recipe card, all of my recipes are stored on Key Ingredient, by clicking here.



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30 comments:

Bonnie Barber said...

Thanks for explaining how to do this and for taking such great photos. I really appreciate the time it must take you to do this. Question: can you use this method for other cuts of beef like a steak or tri-tip? chicken?

My Carolina Kitchen said...

We love very rare roast beef and I don't like deli roast beef. With just two of us we don't make roast beef at home very often. Thanks for all of the tips. I love that therma pen. Got to get one.
Sam

The Short (dis)Order Cook said...

Roast beef sandwiches are da bomb! Go rare beef!!!! I recently made a roast beef post and both your methods and photos put me to shame. I think I'm going to remove that post now. :-D

Joanne said...

I don't know WHAT you are talking about, that beef looks amazing! It's rare that beef really gets me drooling but this is beyond beautiful.

Kalei's Best Friend said...

Those photos are great!. And that sandwich looks perfect!. Does hubby know what a great cook he has? Lucky him.

Noelle said...

I'll always be impressed. :-) looks delish. I want to skip to lunch right now.

I hate it when I make something so good, but the photos are "not so good." Thank goodness for editing.

You're my hero.

A Feast for the Eyes said...

Bonnie, I have used this method with prime rib. Martha Stewart has a recipe that explains how. We grill our tri-tip, so I wouldn't know. With chicken, I'm not sure. I've never tried it. Thanks for stopping by.

Stacey said...

Looks scrumptious! Can't wait to try. I'm curious if Whole Foods Pasture Beef is 100% -- also Grass Finished as well as Grass Fed. I guess that would depend on the local??

A Feast for the Eyes said...

That's a great question. I'll have to ask one of the butchers at Whole Foods.

Cathy said...

You've cooked your roast perfectly, Debby. I love it pink too, and am always very disappointed when it overcooks by even a little bit. I've wondered about that salt method and am glad I never got around to trying it.

I would like to take a big bite out of that scrumptious sandwich.

Marine Loves Papi... said...

Wow this is something i have to cook in the coming weeks!

Big Dude said...

That is a mighty fine looking piece of beef.

Kristen said...

I always slow cook beef in my crock pot and love the way it turns out (in fact I have one on the go right now) - I've had too many issues with oven cooked beef - thanks for the oven post, you have given me hope to try again

Cheryl said...

You cant go wrong with Cooks Illustrated or Cooks Country! Looks delish!

Stacey Snacks said...

Deb,
That is GORGEOUS! You cooked it perfectly, what a beautiful pc of meat and great photo.
Wish I had a sandwich for tomorrow's lunch!

Ciao Chow Linda said...

What a perfectly cooked roast. I'm going to follow those techniques. You're too hard on yourself - the photos are lovely.

Allie said...

I think the photo is great! It makes me want to have a sandwich right now. I love your honesty and that you shared that it didn't turn out right the first time. Looks like it would be the perfect cold winter night meal!

Debbie said...

Beautiful blog. Beautiful posts.

Kim said...

Debby- It's been ages since I've cooked a roast beef like this. I've always served mine for dinner, but I love how you've sliced yours thinly and served it on sandwiches. Scrumptious!

Simple Simon said...

The roast beef looks absolutely perfect and so does the sandwich. Great job!

Meg (The Red Spoon) said...

Wow! I've never even considered making my own roast beef! This looks wonderful, and I must agree, you can't go wrong with CI!

Shoshana said...

Delicious! Definitely making this for sandwich lunches :)

Monica H said...

Ooh, that's a perfectly cooked roast. I like it rare too. And i don't know what you're talking about becaue that pic of the sandwich has me drooling. First I wanted tacquitos and now I want roast beef! ha!

lyndaloulindin said...

I just tried it tonight and cooked it to medium. It was perfect! Thanks for posting this recipe :-) My husband and I's favorite new way to have roast beef!

Anonymous said...

I have found another way to do this...I use equal parts salt ..pepper & garlic powder to rub the roast...then cook at 500 for 7 minutes per pound (to sear) I then turn my oven to it's lowest (170) for 2 hours...comes out perfect...nice & pink

Wissli said...

What temperature should the oven be?? Am I missing something? I can't find it in the article!

Debby Foodiewife said...

Dear Wissli:
I responded to you, via email. On the right sidebar of my homepage, I provide a reason why you might not be able to view my recipe card and I provide a link to where ALL of my recipes cards are stored on Key Ingredient. I'm bewildered, because I can view my recipes cards using Mozilla, Google Chrome, Explorer (new version), Safari and in my iPad!

Anonymous said...

Le Reddit Army is here

Debby Foodiewife said...

Love it, Reddit. My niece just told me she saw my recipe with over 2000 votes! Awesome!

Anonymous said...

I use the Americas test kitchen recipe for eye roast and this cut is often on sale. It's a great deal and so tasty. I had never noticed this cut before and now i see it everywhere. I use my deli slicer to cut it evenly and although juice goes everywhere it fits nicely in my snap lock container and it makes it easy to grab a few pieces for lunch. We also roast this cut on the grill.