Published May 1, 2010.
Grill-roasting seems like an easy way to flavor a less-than-perfect cut of beef—but not if the roast comes out chewy and dry.
Trying to evenly cook an uneven piece of meat usually results in a fibrous, chewy, and woefully dry roast.
We wanted to turn an inexpensive cut of meat into a juicy, evenly cooked roast with a substantial, well-seasoned garlic-rosemary crust.
To see which cut was best for grill-roasting, we gathered five “cheap” roast beef options and subjected them to a 24-hour salt rub. We wanted our technique to work with any of these cuts, but we focused our testing on the winner: top sirloin, a beefy, relatively tender cut from the back half of the cow.
We set up a modified two-level fire, in which all the coals are banked to one side of the kettle. In effect, this created hot zones for searing and cool zones for gentler, indirect cooking. But our plan to cook the beef low and slow for a rosy interior and then hit it with a blast of heat for a nicely charred exterior didn’t work. By the time the center of this larger cut had cooked through, there wasn’t enough firepower left in the coals to sear the meat and develop a crust. We tried adding a second chimney, but it produced inconsistent results.
Resigned to searing the meat first, while the fire was still blazing, we now had a roast with a thick, dark crust and a raw interior, and a bigger risk of overcooking (the hotter your fire, the more likely it is for the outer layers and thinner sections to overcook before the center is done). Also, beef contains enzymes that act as natural tenderizers at temperatures below 122 degrees. So for more tender results, we needed to keep the meat’s interior below this point for as long as possible.
To do this, we took away briquettes, incrementally lowering the number until we arrived at the absolute minimum we could get away with while still maintaining a good sear. To prevent the meat from cooking too quickly, we placed the roast inside a disposable aluminum pan on the cooler side of the grill after searing it. The pan protected the beef from cooking too quickly, and poking a few escape channels in the bottom of the aluminum allowed any liquid to drain away, preserving the meat’s sear. We also found that cutting the roast into thin slices made the meat taste even more tender.list of recipes