Slow-Roasted Beef

Published January 1, 2008. From Cook's Illustrated.

Why this recipe works:

For an inexpensive slow-roasted beef recipe, we transformed a bargain cut into a tender, juicy roast by salting the meat a full 24 hours before roasting and then cooking it at a very low temperature, which allowed the meat's enzymes to act as natural tenderizers, breaking down its tough… read more

For an inexpensive slow-roasted beef recipe, we transformed a bargain cut into a tender, juicy roast by salting the meat a full 24 hours before roasting and then cooking it at a very low temperature, which allowed the meat's enzymes to act as natural tenderizers, breaking down its tough connective tissue.

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Slow-Roasted Beef

Transforming a bargain cut of meat into a tender, juicy roast isn't difficult. It just requires a little prep work and the right cooking technique.

Watch the Video

Serves 6 to 8

We don't recommend cooking this roast past medium. Open the oven door as little as possible and remove the roast from the oven while taking its temperature. If the roast has not reached the desired temperature in the time specified in step 3, heat the oven to 225 degrees for 5 minutes, shut it off, and continue to cook the roast to the desired temperature. For a smaller (2 1/2- to 3 1/2-pound) roast, reduce the amount of kosher salt to 3 teaspoons (1 1/2 teaspoons table salt) and black pepper to 1 1/2 teaspoons. For a 4 1/2- to 6-pound roast, cut in half crosswise before cooking to create 2 smaller roasts. Slice the roast as thinly as possible and serve with Horseradish Cream Sauce (see related recipe), if desired.

Ingredients

  • 1 boneless eye-round roast (3 1/2 to 4 1/2 pounds) (see note)
  • 4 teaspoons kosher salt or 2 teaspoons table salt
  • 2 teaspoons vegetable oil plus 1 tablespoon
  • 2 teaspoons ground black pepper

Instructions

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

    2. Adjust oven rack to middle position and heat oven to 225 degrees. 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. Transfer roast to wire rack set in rimmed baking sheet. 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.

    3. 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. Transfer roast to carving board and let rest 15 minutes. Slice meat crosswise as thinly as possible and serve.

Step-by-Step

The Transformation From Tough to Tender

Along with salting and searing, the key to our eye round's makeover into a tender, juicy roast is keeping its internal temperature below 122 degrees for as long as possible. Below 122 degrees, the meat's enzymes act as natural tenderizers, breaking down its tough connective tissues.

1. SALT: Salt the roast and allow it to rest for 18 to 24 hours. Salt breaks down proteins to improve texture.

2. SEAR: Sear the meat in a hot pan before roasting. While this won't affect tenderness, it will boost flavor.

3. OVEN ON: Cook the meat in an oven set to 225 degrees and open the door as infrequently as possible.

4. OVEN OFF: When the roast reaches 115 degrees, turn off oven and continue to cook the roast as the oven cools.

Shopping

Low-Cost Lineup

Not all bargain cuts have the potential to taste like a million bucks—or look like it when carved and served on a plate.

Our Favorite: Eye-Round Roast

$4.99 per pound We singled out this cut not only for its good flavor and relative tenderness but also for its uniform shape that guarantees even cooking and yields slices that look good on the plate.

Too Fatty: Chuck Eye

$3.99 per pound While undeniably tender and flavorful,, its fat and gristle make this meat better for stew and pot roast than roast beef.

Odd Shape: Top Round

$3.99 per pound A deli staple for sandwiches, this cut comes in irregular shapes that can cook unevenly.

Tough To Carve: Bottom Round Rump

$4.29 per pound

We ruled out this roast for being both tough and hard to carve against the grain.

Eye-Round Roast:

Our Favorite

Chuck Eye:

Too Fatty

Top Round:

Odd Shape

Bottom Round Roast:

Tough To Carve

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