Roast Beef

My mother knows a thing or two about cooking beef. She knows all of the cuts and the best way to prepare them. Perhaps it’s because she came of cooking age during a time when most neighborhoods still had local butchers who prepared the cuts themselves and freely shared information with customers about what to do with them.

I remember accompanying her to our local corner butcher (now long gone) years ago. The butcher had these huge graphics of beef, pork, lamb on the wall behind the meat counter showing what part of the animal the various cuts came from. It was easy to see that a chuck roast came from the shoulder, and that a rump roast came from, well, the rump. These days most people by their meat already packed in plastic at the supermarket, and if you want to talk to a butcher, you have to work to find one in your area.

Back to the roast. My mother typically uses a rump roast when making roast beef. This is her method for getting the most out of this (relatively) less expensive cut. (You can also use a round roast or a sirloin tip with these instructions.) She starts the roast at a high temperature to get browning for flavor, and then lowers the oven temp and cooks the beef “slow and low” for a couple hours.

This slow roasting method at low heat is good for tougher cuts of beef; the lower heat prevents gristle from getting too tough. Roast beef made this way is easy, relatively inexpensive (compared to other cuts of beef), and you get great leftovers for roast beef sandwiches.

From the recipe archive, first posted 2005

  • Prep: 5 minutes
  • Cook: 3 hours
  • Yield: Serves 4-6

Ingredients

  • 3 to 3 1/2 lbs (1.3 to 1.6 kg) of Boneless Rump Roast (pick an end cut with a layer of fat if you can)
  • 1 Tbsp olive oil
  • 8-10 slivers of garlic (3 to 4 cloves, sliced in half or into thirds)
  • Salt and pepper

You will need a meat thermometer

For the gravy:

  • Red wine, water, and or beef stock
  • corn starch

Method

1 The beef should be brought to close to room temperature before you start to roast it so that it cooks more evenly. So, remove it from the refrigerator at least 1 hour, preferably 2 hours, before cooking. Open the wrapping, sprinkle all sides with salt, and wrap it up again.

2 Preheat your oven to 375°F (190°C). Pat the roast dry with paper towels. Use the tip of a sharp knife to make 8 to 10 small incisions around the roast. Put a sliver of garlic into each cut. Rub olive oil all over the roast. Sprinkle with salt and pepper.

3 Place the roast directly on the middle oven rack, fatty side up, with a roasting pan to catch the drippings on the rack beneath it. Placing the roast directly on the rack like this with a pan on the rack below creates a convection type environment in the oven, allowing the hot air to more easily circulate around the roast, so you don't have to turn the roast as it cooks. Place the roast fat-side up so that as the fat melts it bathes the entire roast in flavor.

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4 Cook the roast initially at 375°F (190°C) for half an hour, to brown it. Then lower the heat to 225°F (107°C). The roast should take somewhere from 1 1/2 to 2 1/2 hours additionally to cook. The shape of the roast will affect the cooking time. If your roast is long and narrow, rather than a more round shape, it may take less time to cook, so keep an eye on it. When juices start to drip from the roast, and it is browned on the outside, check the roast's internal temperature with a meat thermometer. Remove the roast from the oven when the internal temperature of the roast is 135° to 140°F (57°C to 60°C).

Place the roast on a cutting board and tent it with aluminum foil to keep it warm. Let it rest for 15 to 30 minutes before cutting. Thinly slice the roast to serve. (Resting the cooked roast is important. If you cut into it too soon, the roast will lose more of its juices.)

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To make the gravy: Remove the dripping pan from the oven and place on the stove top at medium heat. Note that if you are pulling the roast out early, for rare or a medium rare level of doneness, you may not have a lot of drippings. Hopefully you will have some. If not, you may want to leave the roast in a little longer at even lower heat, 175°F, to ease some more drippings out of it. Add some water, red wine, or beef stock to the drippings to deglaze (loosen the drippings from the pan). Dissolve a tablespoon of cornstarch in a little water and add to the drip pan. Stir quickly while the gravy thickens to avoid lumping. You can add a little butter if there is not a lot of fat in the drippings. Add salt and pepper to taste. Mom adds some fresh thyme too if she has some. (See also How to Make Gravy.)

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