Some roasts, such as chuck, taste best when roasted until they're fork tender and falling apart, but top round needs special care. This tough cut of meat tastes best when roasted to medium-rare and sliced thinly. Roast it in the oven, on the grill or on the stovetop, but keep your meat thermometer handy for accurate results.
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About Top Round
Top round comes from the upper back leg of a steer. This dome-shaped cut weighs around 10 pounds, although you'll probably find half portions in the 4- to 5-pound range. Top round is a naturally lean cut of meat and can be tough. Cut it into cubes for kebabs, slice it thinly for sandwiches or toss it in a grill basket or skillet for fajitas or stir-fry.
In the Oven
The simplest way to cook a whole top round roast is in the oven. Set the oven to 300 degrees Fahrenheit and place the top round in a roasting pan. Roast the meat until a meat thermometer inserted in the center registers 125 F -- one to two hours, depending on the size of the roast. This is lower than the 145 F recommended by the U.S. Department of Agriculture as the minimum safe temperature for cooking beef, but your roast will be medium-rare -- slightly pink, flavorful and juicy.
On the Grill
You can roast top round on the grill either as a whole roast or as kebabs or slices. To roast a whole top round, heat the grill to medium heat, leaving one burner off. Place the roast on the cold burner so it cooks over indirect heat until a meat thermometer inserted in the meat registers 125 F -- one to two hours. Cover the roast with foil if it seems dry or baste it with a little beef broth. A faster option is to slice the meat thinly and cook it in a grill basket or skillet, or cut the meat into cubes and string the cubes on kebabs. Grilled or sauteed this way, the meat will cook in 15 minutes or less. Cook it just until the meat is browned on the outside, but slightly pink inside.
Tips for Success
When roasting a whole top round, it's a good idea to salt the meat and let it sit at room temperature an hour before you cook it. This early prep ensures a flavorful, juicy roast that cooks evenly. Letting the roast rest for 15 to 20 minutes after you remove it from the oven is also critical to success. Resting the meat lets the juices redistribute, so the roast slices more easily and tastes moist and juicy. If you're grilling or sauteing cubes or slices of meat, marinate the meat in the refrigerator for several hours beforehand. Marinating adds flavor and moisture to an otherwise somewhat dry cut of meat. Combine a bit of olive oil with garlic, soy sauce, liquid smoke or other savory ingredients.
- Meat: A Kitchen Education; James Peterson
- Food Safety.gov: Safe Minimum Cooking Temperatures