March 7th, 2014
08:00 AM ET
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America's Test Kitchen is a real 2,500 square foot test kitchen located just outside of Boston that is home to more than three dozen full­time cooks and product testers. Our mission is simple: to develop the absolute best recipes for all of your favorite foods. To do this, we test each recipe 30, 40, sometimes as many as 70 times, until we arrive at the combination of ingredients, technique, temperature, cooking time, and equipment that yields the best, most­ foolproof recipe. America’s Test Kitchen's online cooking school is based on nearly 20 years of test kitchen work in our own facility, on the recipes created for Cook's Illustrated magazine, and on our two public television cooking shows.

Roasting beef makes for elegant entrees and, if you’re lucky, leftovers that practically beg to be turned into sandwiches. But making roast beef can be tricky; it’s easy to overcook the meat or to insufficiently brown the exterior, a key step if you’re trying to develop the deepest flavor possible (which you should be).

Here at America’s Test Kitchen, we’ve developed dozens of roast beef recipes, so we know exactly what can go wrong and, more importantly, how to ensure that everything goes right. Here’s all the knowledge we’ve gained after spending years creating roast beef recipes for everything from inexpensive sirloin roasts to pricey beef tenderloins.

Tie, season and let it stand
Many cuts of meat benefit from trussing before being cooked. Tying the meat with food-safe kitchen twine (our favorite is available on Amazon) forces beef roasts into more even shapes, ensuring the thin, narrow ends won’t overcook before the thick middle part is done (it also makes for a nicer presentation and easier slicing). After the meat is trussed, dry the roast with paper towels, then sprinkle the exterior with salt (preferably kosher) and let it stand at room temperature for at least an hour. As the roast sits, the salt draws out its juices, which then combine with the salt before being reabsorbed into the meat. The result: a beef roast that is flavorful both inside and out.

Sear before roasting
Browning meat produces new flavor compounds that are essential to the success of a roast. But blasting the oven temperature to accomplish this can dry out the meat's exterior and doesn't uniformly brown the entire roast. To guarantee a well-caramelized crust, sear the roast in either the roasting pan or a skillet before putting it into the oven.

Choose appropriate cooking method
Most roast beef recipes call for cooking roasts in a moderately hot oven, but this method can lead to an overcooked exterior and an unevenly cooked interior. We generally cook roast beef at temperatures between 250 and 350 degrees, depending on the meat's size and shape. Roasts should always be taken out of the oven before they reach the desired degree of doneness. A phenomenon called “carry-over cooking,” in which the meat’s exterior transfers heat to the cooler center, will cause the internal temperature of the roast to rise another 10 to 15 degrees.

Let meat rest
All roasts should rest under a foil tent for 10 to 20 minutes before being carved. As the protein molecules in the meat cool, they will reabsorb any accumulated juices and redistribute them throughout the roast. This also allows for “carry-over cooking” to take effect.

How to trim beef tenderloin
If you’re roasting the delicious cut of beef known as the tenderloin, you may have to do a bit of butchery. Here’s how:

Discard the strip
Discard the fatty strip (or chain) that runs along the length of the tenderloin.

Trim the skin
Remove the sinewy silver skin (and any other large pieces of fat) by inserting the tip of the knife under it and slicing outward at a slight angle.

Turn bargain beef into an elegant entree
For an inexpensive slow-roasted beef recipe, we found a way to transform a cheaper cut, a boneless eye-round roast, into a tender, juicy roast by salting the meat a full 24 hours before roasting and then cooking it at a very low temperature. These steps allow the meat's enzymes to act as natural tenderizers, breaking down its tough connective tissue.


More from America's Test Kitchen:
More Elegant Meat Entrees from Cook’s Country Magazine
Our Online Cooking School Tutorial for Slow Roasted Beef
How to Make Roast Beef Po’ Boys
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Filed under: America's Test Kitchen • Content Partner • Ingredients • Meat • Recipes

soundoff (9 Responses)
  1. Azure

    > sprinkle the exterior with salt (preferably kosher) and let it stand at room temperature for at least an hour.

    Has anybody in that food kitchen ever taken a food safety class??? An hour at room temp is plenty of time for a good bacteria culture to get started. Can you say, "salmonella"? Ok then, can you say, "food poisoning"?

    Oh, and the last time i checked, putting salt on the exterior of meat dries it out. Salt it after you cook it if you want moist meat.

    March 19, 2014 at 8:24 pm |
  2. Thinking things through

    I really appreciate these ideas, but I always worry that the roast will get cold before enough resting is done. I'm not making salad, but a hot, tasty meal.

    March 7, 2014 at 7:03 pm |
  3. Weeds

    I like roast beast. Cooked in a Weber, indirect heat, slow heat, under 300F, when measured with a thermometer stuck in a top vent hole. w/ a remote thermometer to catch it when its rare. It will turn medium rare by the time it is ready to slice.

    I'm really surprised Test Kitchen didn't say this in the video – THE MEAT STILL COOKS WHILE IT IS RESTING.
    Especially in hot schweaty climates.

    March 7, 2014 at 3:26 pm |
  4. Jdizzle McHammperpants ♫♫

    Roast beef always reminds me of this one chick I knew.

    March 7, 2014 at 12:35 pm |
    • RichardHead@Jdizz

      You mean Elsie ??

      March 7, 2014 at 1:05 pm |
      • Jdizzle McHammperpants ♫♫

        Who's that? Cartoon cow?

        March 7, 2014 at 1:26 pm |
    • Thinking things through

      Would this apply if you were cooking poultry?

      March 7, 2014 at 7:05 pm |
  5. patricklinhart

    Reblogged this on The FOOD Inspectors .

    March 7, 2014 at 8:30 am |
    • RC


      March 11, 2014 at 5:20 pm |
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