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Inquiiry - Making tender Roast Beef like in a restaurant

post #1 of 11
Thread Starter 
Hello All;
I have been a home cook and a cooking enthusiast all my life ever since my mother taught me how to make cakes and cookies when I was young.

For the longest time, I have been trying to master the fine art of making tender, thin sliced roast beef like I'd get in a restaurant.

I have heard often that one key to making awesome roast beef it to cook it at a low temperature for a long duration (210-degrees for 4 to 5 hours as an example).

I have also heard that packing the roast with salt all over seals in the juices and improves flavor and tenderness. I have a bunch of questions about this part.

First, how is this done. I have done some research on the internet and have found that the usual way is to make a paste with a lots of salt and some water and then encase the roast in it. Is this the way and is this the best way >

And second, Even though I know we're supposed to remove this cap of salt after the roast is finished and before carving, wouldn't this make the roast very, very salty ?

And next, if your answer to the last question is "YES", is there another way other than using salt that would get the same or nearly the same benefit ?

And finally, do restaurants actually use this method of using salt like this ?

Thanks much for answering my questions.

post #2 of 11
In the first place the quality of the meat is very important. USDA Prime will give you the tenderest and most flavorful meat. Grass fed, properly aged, etc., etc. Of course that is the most expensive and if you screw it up it's like throwing away your kid's college tuition for a semester. No pressure now :chef:

Professional kitchens have special slow cookers that allow them to safely cook a rib roast for hours at a low temp. It's difficult to duplicate in the home. Cooks Illustrated came up with a method a few years ago where they sear the meat on the stove top to give it some color then put it into a low oven for hours.

I've heard of the salt method and seen it used on fish. I've no doubt it will work but IMO it is too much fiddling and not worth the effort.

post #3 of 11
In addition to what Jock said about quality, cut is also important. "Roast beef" can be an inherently tender (and expensive) rib roast, or it can be from the less expensive round or even chuck, which need different treatment to become tender. All of those have great flavor and are worth whatever effort it takes. Then there's beef tenderloin -- another expensive cut, although it has almost no waste, but with less flavor (imo) -- which takes still another method to NOT destroy its tenderness.

I rarely make roast beef at home, since I'm only cooking for two. But I've been tempted to try one like this -- very simple. Many of the recipes at use the method of starting at high heat, then finishing at moderate heat. While the salt-crust method probably gives a very tender roast, I really like the browned crust -- and pan drippings -- from an exposed roast.
"Notorious stickler" -- The New York Times, January 4, 2004
"Notorious stickler" -- The New York Times, January 4, 2004
post #4 of 11

To Rest or Not to Rest

Definitely the cut of meat is key to a good roast... but secondly, for the home cook, choosing to sear the roast prior to roast can help seal in juices and carmelize the roast for added flavor.

If you have the pleasure of obtaining a good rib eye cut, low temps as well as bringing the roast to room tempurature before cooking will help to cook your roast eveningly. Don't forget to buy a thermometer to test the inner tempurature. 120-140 F is ideal for a roast at medium-rare to medium .

Final piece of advice is to always allow your roast to rest for a least 10 minutes. The roast will continue to cook outside the oven as well as relax and release juices providing a more tender cut.

Hope that helps.
..:: Delish ::..
..:: Delish ::..
post #5 of 11
Y'know, I keep hearing about searing meat to seal in juices, but I have a vague memory of Harold McGee saying that it's just not true. Now, I don't know if Harold was right or wrong, if he once thought that and changed his opinion, or if my memory is faulty - does anyone have a comment on this?

post #6 of 11
Well, here i am answering my own question. I was right about McGee, and others, dispelling that myth:

And now that I think of it, I believe Alton Brown had something similar to say on a program he did that aired last month.

I wonder why everyone keeps repeating it, like some sort of mantra?

post #7 of 11
Although searing meat will not seal in juices, resting the meat and cooking it to a lower temperature (make sure it's medium at most on the inside) will ensure a moist roast. Also, choose a cut of beef with good marbling, subtle yet prevalent streaks of fat.
"If it's chicken, chicken a la king. If it's fish, fish a la king. If it's turkey, fish a la king." -Bender
"If it's chicken, chicken a la king. If it's fish, fish a la king. If it's turkey, fish a la king." -Bender
post #8 of 11

Salting will definitely not make it more tender.

Salt draws out liquids, which is the exact opposite of what you're trying to do.

I agree with the searing/sealing idea also. (same kind of myth as rinsing vs brushing mushrooms because of the water they will absorb.)

For a roast I like to do a hot dry quick broil, approximately 5 minutes on the first, then 3 on the flip side until dark browned, then reduce temp in your oven to 325 and continue to roast. For example, 20 minutes for a 4 lb tri-tip roast for medium rare. Sometimes I'll use a basic S&P and garlic, but mostly I like the basic flavor and add seasonings later.

The reason I like to sear/broil is because it does add more flavor. (without added oil as compared to pan searing) Also leaving a moderate amount of fat on is imperative. On the top when you roast. (gravity and all) Not a lot, but like it or not fat just adds a great taste.

It does heavily depend on the cut of meat. You can't make a silk purse out of a sow's ear so to speak. Tenderloin isn't typically used for your standard 'roast beef', and roast beef varies all over the map as to how well it's prepared, the quality, etc. ( I also agree about Filet...It's a neat idea until you look at your budget...LOL...and the flavor really is kind of blah compared to a nice rib eye or sirloin IMHO)

Personally, I've found that a prime roast is the best for flavor/tenderness. Pan drippings, real Yorkshire pudding...Bone in definitely. (save the bones for me...:D )

The only issue would be the carving it thin enough. I'd get a good electric knife. I don't have one but know it would be perfect for thin wonderful meaty slices of pure beefy bliss.

Heck, I'm hungry now...

post #9 of 11
Whether searing seals in juices is moot, imo; it makes for that delicious brown crust, and that's what I love. :lips:

And for the record: it's Maillard reaction, not caramelization. ;)
"Notorious stickler" -- The New York Times, January 4, 2004
"Notorious stickler" -- The New York Times, January 4, 2004
post #10 of 11
Yoyu're right on all counts. It just boggles my mind how this misinformation has been continuing to go around after so many years of having been debunked. Even the "celebrity chefs" get it wrong on their cooking shows, and continue to perpetuate the myth.

post #11 of 11
I wouldn't say that searing the juices is a moot point, mostly because it is such a common misconception (even among professional chefs) that it needs to be corrected.

Anyways, a long, slow roast is probably the best method to go. Try something like 200 degrees until the inside hits about 120. You can use a probe thermometer or just a bi metallic, but if using the latter check it every so often to prevent it.

I would say rest it at least an hour.

You also have the option of either searing in a pan or turning on the broiler to brown it. Just don't cover it with foil when you rest or you will ruin the crust.

Good luck.
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