Roast beef can be a scary proposition if you're not practiced with the preparation. It's a somewhat intimidating cut and dish, and when it goes wrong, the dried-out, tough, chewy, discolored results aren't a big hit. For the best results, start with the best cuts; loin and rib cuts are the most naturally tender and juicy. If you don't mind the extra expense, opt for prime-rated cuts for superior marbling over choice cuts. With the right piece of beef, proper salting and avoiding cooking the meat past its minimum safe temperature are the two keys to turning out a succulent roast.
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Salt the entire surface of the roast beef liberally with coarse kosher or sea salt. Let it stand for at least 40 to 60 minutes; you can refrigerate it uncovered for 1 to 2 days. The salt needs enough time to pull moisture from the meat and season it, and the moisture needs time to be reabsorbed into the meat; otherwise, you dry the meat out and reduce its tenderness. Large-grain salt is most effective, but you can use table salt if necessary.
Let the roast stand at room temperature for 1 to 2 hours before cooking. Count the time since you salted the beef if you're not holding it in the refrigerator for an extended period. Chilled beef doesn't cook evenly, which means you may end up with overcooked parts that are less succulent.
Preheat the oven for around 20 minutes, to 425 degrees Fahrenheit. Prep a shallow roasting pan by protecting the bottom with a sheet of foil and coating the rack with nonstick spray.
Apply a coating of an unsaturated fat-based, heart-healthy cooking oil, such as vegetable, canola, sunflower or grapeseed oil, to the surface of the beef with a cooking brush. Season the beef with ingredients such as black pepper, garlic or onion powder, thyme, rosemary and oregano.
Set the roast on the rack of the roasting pan and put it uncovered into the middle of the oven. Covering the pan causes the meat to steam in its own juices, which prevents the exterior from developing the desirable browned, crisped appearance and texture.
Roast a small cut of around 2 to 3 pounds to an internal temperature of 140 F; a medium cut of about 3 to 5 pounds to 138 F; or a larger cut to 135 F. The USDA recommends cooking a solid cut of beef to 145 F. The roast's temperature rises the remaining 5 to 10 degrees during resting. Use a meat thermometer inserted into the center of the thickest part of the roast to check doneness. Don't cook past a final temperature of 145 F, as the meat rapidly dries out and toughens past this point.
Move the beef from the roasting pan to a serving tray right away. Tent it loosely with foil to keep the roast warm. Let it rest for about 20 minutes, then check its temperature one last time; if it hasn't risen quite to 145 F, put it back into the oven for a few minutes as needed; you won't need to rest it again afterwards. If you cut into the roast without resting it first, the juices inside that keep the meat moist and flavorful bleed out.
- U.S. Department of Agriculture: Beef from Farm to Table
- U.S. Department of Agriculture: Roasting those "Other" Holiday Meats
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- ThermoWorks: Meat Should Rest