How To Cook Your Roast Beef To Perfection
Have you struggled to cook roast beef just right in the past? Few foods are as deceptively simple to cook as roast beef. This is especially true if you're looking to achieve the medium or medium rare consistency that most people who love beef are shooting for.
Roast beef is typically a tougher beef cut, and those often are more flavorful. You should allow its great taste to stand mostly on its own. Let's get started.
A good roast beef should have a thin layer of crisp meat on the outside. It should also be slightly pink in the middle. It's important that it's seasoned properly, but not overly so.
Cooking your roast beef to perfection requires 3 things. The first is good initial preparation. The second is patience during the cooking process. The third is even more patience once the beef has come out of the oven.
A Cut Of Beef
This may sound simple and obvious, but the cut really does matter. Especially important is the meat's weight. A good rule of thumb for cooking roast beef is that you will need to cook it for at least 20 minutes for every pound it weighs.
The meat should also be brought closer to room temperature by leaving it out of the fridge for about a half hour in order to prevent the outside from drying out while cooking.
A Food Scale
You need to know the weight of your cut in order to achieve the desired results. Do not assume the butcher's shop got it right. It is a best practice to weigh your meat again before cooking to verify how many pounds you will cook and just how long you will need to cook it.
This will help prevent under-cooking or, the more dreadful, overcooking and help you achieve the moist and tasty results you're hoping for.
A Roasting Pan
Ideally, you should be using a roasting pan that is made of heavy stainless steel or copper to cook the perfect roast beef. There's no benefit to using a nonstick pan, so you can simply avoid those options if you're buying one.
For a general-purpose roasting pan, 3-inch sides are most appropriate. A frying pan could also be used to sear the roast before you place it in the roasting pan for a crispier outside.
For every 3 pounds of beef, you may want to use 1/2 teaspoon of kosher salt, 1/2 teaspoon of garlic powder and 1/4 teaspoon of freshly ground black pepper for a simple and classic flavor. Add more or less seasoning to taste.
Using string to wrap your roast before cooking is completely optional. When using string, make sure to choose something made only of cotton. The safest move is to make a point of buying your string from a cooking store.
The string is meant to help keep your cut of beef reasonably spherical by trussing it up so that it can cook more evenly. Don't forget to remove the string before digging into your roast.
How To Cook The Perfect Roast Beef
Step 1. Truss And Season The Meat
If you're electing to truss your cut of beef, simply cut several lengths of twine that are long enough to wrap around the cut and be tied. Wrap them around the cut and tie them.
Repeat the process at intervals down the length of the cut. Create one longer piece of twine that will go from end to end, and tie that too.
Once you have the cut of meat tied up properly, you can season it. Take your salt, garlic and black pepper and mix them together in a small bowl. Rub the mixture of seasonings all over the cut of beef until it is uniformly coated on all sides.
Step 2. Pan Searing (Optional)
If you're going to sear your roast, this will be your first step that involves actual cooking. On medium heat, place your cut of beef into the frying pan.
Rotate the meat every 30 seconds or so until you see that it is properly seared on all sides. Be careful not to overdo it as the outside will continue to cook and get crispier in the oven.
If you're shooting for a darker and harder sear, you can add butter or increase the heat. However, it is wise to show restraint if this is your first time using this approach while making roast beef.
Step 3. Start The Oven
Your oven will need to be preheated to 375 degrees Fahrenheit. This will allow the oven time to come up to cooking temperature while you handle other preparations. While you will eventually reduce the heat to 225 degrees, your initial purpose is twofold.
First, you want to get the cooking process rolling at a high temperature. Second, you want to cook at a high enough initial temperature that the process of searing is triggered.
Step 4. Assemble Your Roast
The first thing you want to do is create a layer on the bottom of the pan. This begins with sprinkling salt and black pepper on the bottom of the pan. Some cooks also add a layer of vegetables or oil, but you should be aware that it can slightly alter the anticipated cook time.
Placing your cut of roast beef in the pan leads to another case where your particular tastes matter. Many cooks use a small rack that comes with most roasting pans to allow air to circulate underneath the cut.
This can keep accumulating juices away from your cut of meat. If you're looking for a crispier exterior, use a rack. If your goal is to produce a juicier cut, you may want to place the cut directly on the pan.
Step 5. Cook
Once you're sure that your oven has been properly preheated to 375 degrees, you can place your roast in it.
- If you did not pan sear your roast initially, you'll want your roast to cook at this temperature for at least half an hour. If you chose to pan sear, you may wish to cut down the initial cooking time by five minutes or so.
- After a half hour, check that your roast is properly seared. If it isn't, continue at 375 for another five minutes and recheck. If it is, reduce the heat in your oven to 225 degrees. This is where making a perfect roast becomes a bit more art than science.
- Depending upon the shape and the weight of your roast, it may need to cook anywhere from an additional 30 minutes to two hours.
Step 6. Check the Temperature
If you have access to a meat thermometer, make use of it. When you believe the cut has cooked long enough and wish to check it, place the probe for the thermometer into the thickest portion of the cut's center.
If you're looking to achieve a medium cook, you'll want to shoot for the 140-degree range. If your goal is to have the meat somewhat rarer, 135 degrees should do the job.
Step 7. Remove And Rest
When cooking meat, there are few things more important than allowing the cut to rest. Once you've achieved your desired temperature for your cut of beef, remove it from the oven and place the roasting pan on a surface that can stand the heat.
Your goal is to allow the cut of beef to rest for an additional 15 minutes at least. Preferably, you should allow it to rest for 20 minutes. Some people move the meat to a cutting board at this stage, but it is not essential.
If you're concerned about the cut drying out, create a tent with aluminum foil and place it loosely over the meat. Try to minimize the amount of direct contact between the meat and the aluminum because the metal can react with the acidity of the meat and juices.
Step 8. Serve!
Move your cut to a carving board. Cut off any string that you may have used to truss the meat using a knife or cooking scissors. You may also want to place a napkin under the meat to capture any juices that come out during the cutting process.
Your goal is to cut across the grain of the meat. In almost all cases, this means simply cutting across the shorter side of the meat.
Make a smooth slicing motion as you cut and try not to saw. Slices should be between 1/4 and 1/2 inch in thickness. Place the slices on your serving tray.
Never cut more slices than you intend to serve at the time. Once a piece of meat has been removed from the roast, it begins to dry out. If you want leftovers, leave the remaining lump of meat uncut until you intend to use it.
Cooking beef, and especially making a perfect roast beef, may seem like a tricky proposition. It takes time and practice before you can consistently get the results you want.
This is especially the case for folks who want that perfect medium-rare roast beef. Be prepared to repeat the process and learn to get what you really want from your roasts.
More than anything else, however, make sure to let the cut rest for at least 15 minutes before cutting it. It's important to allow the heat retained by the meat and roasting pan to dissipate before fixing your plate. This is also part of the cooking process.
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