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Making Well-Done Roast Beef (Not Prime Rib)

post #1 of 17
Thread Starter 
Hello All;
If you'll recall, I posted a message a week or two inquiring about the best way to make tender Roast Beef like the restaurants do. I posted my question on several cooking forum's and got many excellent suggestions. All of the suggestions involved cooking Prime Rib to Medium doneness. So I went out and bought a Prime Rib for $30 for a 3.5 pound size and cooked it to Medium doneness like you all suggested. It was OK but I would prefer to cook a beef to medium-well or well doneness. I have learned from one of the responses that if I want to cook a beef well-done, I should use a cheaper cut of beef (Other than Prime Rib).

So I am re-asking this question. Say I want to cook a beef to WELL-DONEness that I can thin-slice with a slicer. What cut of beef would you suggest and what is the preferred cooking method ? I would like to obtain results like the restaurants do. Most of my beef I have cooked in the past turn out somewhat dry and not very tender.

Thank you very much for offering some additional suggestions.

post #2 of 17
For the record most well done meats do tend to be dry. Especially since you're cooking the bejeezus out of it to get it to be well-done. Use a chuck roast, flat or round brisket, tri-tip or bottom round roast and sear it off in a skillet, place it on a roasting rack in a roasting pan(this will keep it out of the drippings and you will be roasting instead if braising), season the top with your favorite blend, add about 2 cups of water in the bottom of the pan, cover with foil and place in a 275 degree oven (225 if a convection oven) for....forever.:rolleyes: ;) Actually for around 3-4 hours (add 2 hrs and 25 degrees for the brisket) should do the trick. Don't be impatient and peek under the foil. Pull it out of the oven, let it rest covered for 20 minutes, remove the foil save the dripping for gravy and have at it.

Personally, well-done meat is not on my list of favorites but from having to produce tender roast beef for the "advancing in years group" this worked well. The only difference is that I was using whole cuts and not the portioned meats you find at the grocery to do this.:D
post #3 of 17
Thread Starter 
Thanks oldschool1982;
I think this is more along the lines of what I am trying to produce. Actually, I could handle medium-well (That's what I usually order) but that prime rib I had last week (I even cooked it to a slightly higher temp. than everyone suggested) was far from medium-well. Thanks a bunch.

post #4 of 17

Tri-tips are nice...

Depends on how much you need. I broil each side until dark brown then reduce oven temp to 350 and roast for 20 minutes on the middle rack for an additional 20 minutes for MR. It's an even consistent way to make a nice pink all the way through.

I'm guessing you can modify this for MW by tightly covering or wrapping to reduce moisture loss and roasting for an additional period of time. Depending on how tender the cut of meat you can use the braising method with water. I'm not sure I'd add a whole lot of extra water from personal taste because I would think it would add more of a stewed flavor, but a little probably wouldn't hurt. I wouldn't know, because I like rare. The brisket I've done is pretty much a steamed version of roasting. Turns out great, but not the type of roast I think you're looking for. Meat is tender but very stringy. Great for BBQ, mashed potatos and gravy and tacos.

The old "Baron of Beef" is what I remember as the definition of "Roast Beef". Now you'd probably have to look up the definition as far as cuts. In England it's close to a large sirloin, here it's something else...all large...:lol:

I suggest investing in one of those wonderful probes on a wire that you can keep an eye on the internal temp without disturbing the roast.

155 should do it for m/well. Let it sit until the internal temp comes up to about 10 degrees higher.

Hope this helps.

(My uncle used to have two results when he'd bbq. Welldone and Welldoner)
post #5 of 17
Oh. Well done. :cry:

In that case, doesn't much matter what cut you use (yeah, I'm a snob. :lol: ) -- although boneless prime rib might still be better since it will still retain fat and the related moisture. And, of course, it starts out more tender.

But the main key to tenderness will be in slicing the meat as thin as possible. If you're slicing by hand, it will definitely help to chill the meat after cooking. With a machine you might not have to get it cold. In any case, let it rest before you slice; don't want to lose what precious little moisture is left.
"Notorious stickler" -- The New York Times, January 4, 2004
"Notorious stickler" -- The New York Times, January 4, 2004
post #6 of 17
In your posting, you are asking for beef to slice paper thin. What are you going to do with it, are you looking for a sandwich beef?

If so, we make a sandwich beef, by browning the meat off; then cover the meat in a beef broth and simmer till tender. Most important, let the meat cool down in the liquid and then chill it in the broth overnight.

When sliced for sandwiches it has a very beefy flavor. I freeze the broth in a container and use it again and again, just adding more as needed. You can split the broth off and use for stock also. It gets thicker, more flavorful over time.

I make this beef all summer, for the guys and their fishing sandwiches. It does have an old fashioned beef sandwich flavor. Sliced then, with a little gravy can make a fast hot beef sandwich, or a bar-b-que sandwich, when it's cold out.

If I have enough people around to warrant, this is a staple in the fridge.
post #7 of 17
I find that if one wants juicy, but more than med well, beef this is the most important thing you can do. Cook it, cool it in the juice, and chill overnight. Do not even think about cutting it or taking it out of the juice/broth until tomorrow.

Reheat after slicing either by nuking it or heating some broth and the sliced beef together. For sandwiches, the broth method works if you're thinking philly beef, open faced, or need au jus. Otherwise, heat in the nuker for beef & cheddar, etc.

If you want a juicy slice of prime rib like you get in a steakhouse, you need to sear the outside, rub with your spices, and then dry roast wrapped in foil to retain moisture. Use a probe and cook to about 150 internal temp for med well. Remove from the oven and let it sit for a solid 10 mins or so. The temp should rise to 155-160 while resting. Then open just enough of the foil to be able to slice what you want and immediately reseal. Think Giro. It's the same method they use for that.

You also want a fairly fatty piece to start with for the most juice. You can also use cheaper cuts like beef chuck/shoulder and still get great results. The steaks will be a touch tougher but still yummy.
post #8 of 17
What is it about the 'Medium' doneness that you didn't like? Sometimes this is just a visual thing that some people can't get past. My wife for example, just can't eat a medium rare has nothing to do with taste, texture, etc. It just looks like a raw piece of meat to her, and her brain equates raw with dangerous and gross. Logic, etc. doesn't have anything to do with it, it's just the way she's wired.

The reason I ask is depending upon your answer there are ways of cooking a product to a lower temperature but providing different visual and textural experiences. Ever had that rare roast beef sliced ultra-thin? Pink as a flamingo when it's sliced....but wrap loosely in small bundles and let refrigerate another day *after* it's sliced and it looks like medium well beef as the moisture is reduced and oxidation takes hold.

But in general, I'm not sure there is an answer to your specific question. Wanting to cook meat to medium-well to well done temperature *and* wanting it to taste like it does at a restaraunt is like asking for a no-fat, no-calorie chocolate fudge brownie *and* make it taste great...just aint gonna happen. :)
post #9 of 17
Thread Starter 
Hello All;
I want to let you all know that I'm reading all of your responses and am anxious to experiment with all of your ideas.

In response to mochef's question, yes I think a lot of it is a visual thing. Plus most in my family perfer med-well to well so I would be hesitant to cook anything else.

Also to mochef, I both agree and disagree with you that "it can't be done". How can that be, you ask ? The reason I disagree with you is because I get thinly-sliced Roast Beef W/gravy at two different restaurants in my community that serve it exactly how I would like to learn how to prepare it. These two restaurants are family-oriented (About $8.00 total for dinner), not gourmet restaurants that charge a lot more - I don't know if that makes a difference in how it's prepared. The beef looks and tastes medium-well to well-done, not rare and it tastes really, really good. Perhaps it's the very thin slicing and the gravy that enables them to cook the beef med-well and still not be dry. And I agree with you not only due to your experience but also due to the fact that most professionals on two forum's agree that you can't cook beef well-done. So perhaps I need to ask my question differently.

Hope thing explains my delimma.

post #10 of 17
With that description, I'm confident that what you are tasting is the tenderness and moisture added back to the beef by the serving style. It is an undisputed, scientific fact that cooking beef to "well done" coagulates the proteins so much that most of the moisture is driven from the meat. It is tougher and chewier than rare beef. That's a fact and beyond serious dispute.

However, your local restaurants are serving this well done beef in a manner to give it the mouth feel of more tender, moister beef. How? First, by thinly slicing it, the tough muscle fibers are shorter and don't feel as tough to your mouth. (That same beef sliced thickly would be tough and chewy.) Then, to replace the lost moisture, they're serving it with gravy. I also suspect that they're dipping the slices in hot au jus before serving them, thus coating them with beef-flavored liquid.

With all that, I must get back to the question of why you would want to make the beef dry and chewy in the first place and then have to go to lengths to disguise that condition. But, that's just me.
post #11 of 17
Phil and others interested in the science of it, please correct me if I'm wrong. :look:

The more you cook meat (or poultry or fish, for that matter), the more the protein fibers in the muscle contract. That squeezes the moisture out of it. So by cooking it well-done, you will always make it dryer than if you cook it less. No way around that. Castironchef already said this.

However, if you cook it more slowly, you won't "shock" the proteins quite as much and they won't tense up as fast and as hard. So while a well-done piece of roast beef will still be dryer than rare or medium-rare, it needn't be total shoe leather. This is a situation in which I would use a "low and slow" method of roasting rather than a high-heat quickie.

And all the suggestions about letting the meat cool completely before slicing it very thin are good, too. I know that when I make brisket, which I always do well-done because that's the only way I know how to do it :blush:, if I try to cut it even after a good rest, all I can get is thick slabs. Refrigerated overnight, it is easy as pie to cut. Easier -- pies always fall apart for me. :lol: Cut cold, I can do it paper-thin.

My guess is that the roast beef you get in those restaurants is a steamship round -- not the tenderest cut to begin with, but full of flavor. And if they treat it properly it will be just as you describe, and made even more palatable by the gravy.
"Notorious stickler" -- The New York Times, January 4, 2004
"Notorious stickler" -- The New York Times, January 4, 2004
post #12 of 17
Thread Starter 
You guys (and gals) are great and I am learning so much. I have never tried to cook a beef roast slow and at low temperature so I will have to give it a try. Also, I have received many suggestions to cool the roast completely before cutting it.

The most recent posts have generated three more questions ...

1) Could I use a knife to cut a "cold" roast paper-thin or do you pretty much need the precision of a mechanical slicing machine to cut that thin?

2) Thanks, Suzanne for your suggestion that the cut of beef my favorite restaurants are using may be "steamship round". I have never heard of it so I assume it's only available to restaurants. Could you tell me what would be most similar to it that I'd find in a local grocery store ?

3) And one last question ... Say I was having a party and I wanted to serve Roast Beef and gravy and cut it very thin, would you all suggest that I make it the evening before (slow-cooked at a low temperature) and then just reheat after cutting? I could reserve half of the juice for reheating it in and half for making gravy. Does this sound like a good plan or should something be changed with my method ?

Thank you very, very, very much !!!

post #13 of 17
I'll get around to your questions, but I also just wanted to point out that there may also be a miscommunication due to terminology too. It's possible that what you (and the restaraunts) are calling 'Roast' beef may not be a roast at all.

We've all been intent on giving you the science of doneness to tenderness to moisture, etc. And we're correct in our answers...but only when it refers to making 'roast beef' (or a similar type of roasting). You can obviously achieve a very different magic with super tough cuts of meat and the 'low and slow for a long time' methodology. I could go into braising, smoking, etc. but that's quite a long conversation. The reason I bring it up is Suzanne's comment about brisket. I can almost guarantee you that she's cooking it in liquid...and for a long time. Take a tough brisket, and with enough moisture and enough time you can end up with a reasonably tender piece of meat (if sliced correctly....that grain will punish you if sliced wrong)...yet it's been cooked to death so obviously well done right? The point is that they may be cooking it in a very different method than 'true' roast beef.

Anyhoo, on to your questions:

slicing with a knife? No, you can't get it that thin with a knife. But you can do a reasonable facsimile. Using a cheap electric knife I can slice rather thinly. If you're friendly with your butcher though you can take it in and have them slice it just like you want it.

In regards to making the day before or not. Well, it really depends on the earlier stuff I was talking about. If I was making a real roast beef I would definitely make it same day and serve right at the end of the rest period. But I'm no longer sure that we're talking about the same thing.
post #14 of 17
Yes, I was referring to a braise, which I would not consider a roast.

But then, for most of us, "roast" = "baked." When I was growing up, my mother (who only bought kosher meat) probably bought chuck roast or shoulder clod, rolled and tied, and "roasted" it, that is, baked it in the oven with dry heat. That was roast beef to me back then.

A steamship round is a foodservice cut -- a very big chunk of the cow, from the top rear or rump. If that is what Tim is eating in the restaurants, I'd bet that it was cooked (baked, roasted -- take your pick) in a combi-oven. This is what a company that manufactures them says: That is how the restaurants get what is basically NOT a tender part of the animal to be so tender. (That, and slicing it very thin.) And that is not a piece of equipment Tim is likely to have at home. :(

On the very rare ;) occasions I've made "roast beef" I've used top round or bottom round. Those are parts of the larger foodservice cuts. I actually think they are better for braising, but in a pinch, they can be "roasted."

I agree with Mochefs that an electric knife will work much better than a regular slicing knife; a slicing machine works best, though. And again, you want to have the cooked meat cold, not just cooled. Think about delis: you order a quarter-pound of roast beef; they take the cooked meat (probably part of the round, probably cooked in a combi-oven) out of the refrigerator case, put it in the slicing machine, and you've got thin slices of meat that seems tender. It isn't really, but because it was cooked with steam as well as dry heat, and sliced very thin, you can't tell that. That's not easy to do at home.

Cooking it the day before will certainly give you plenty of time to chill it before cutting. But I rather doubt you'll have much in the way of pan drippings/jus for heating and gravy making. So you'll want to be sure to have some good beef stock to reheat the slices in, and to make the gravy with. Ay yi yi -- more work now, making your own beef stock. :lol:
"Notorious stickler" -- The New York Times, January 4, 2004
"Notorious stickler" -- The New York Times, January 4, 2004
post #15 of 17
Thread Starter 
I really want a combi-oven ... but I don't think one will fit in my kitchen
Oh and a important detail is that new ones cost upwards of $7,000 (And probably a lots more) but there's a used one on ebay right now for $1,150 that you can buy-now or even make an offer.

I am curious if a true convection oven would get you closer to the results of a combi-oven than a conventional oven would? See

It so happens I am looking to replace my oven and refrigerator in the next few months.

post #16 of 17
Regular convection will give you the moving heated air, but not the steam. You know how sometimes to bake bread, you have to spray water into the oven, or put in a pan of water to create steam? The combi-oven does that in a big way. And that is what makes those hunks of not-so-tender meats tender and moist.

I don't know if anyone makes combi-ovens for home use (you already know how big and how expensive the commercial ones are :eek: ), but you might try Googling. If you find out anything, post it on the Equipment board -- I bet there are others who would be interested, and that's the place to discuss it. :D
"Notorious stickler" -- The New York Times, January 4, 2004
"Notorious stickler" -- The New York Times, January 4, 2004
post #17 of 17

Eye of Round

I know I am late to this thread, and maybe someone else has suggested this, but I like eye of round for sliced sandwich meat. It has great flavor and is fairly cheap. It will dry out something fierce though, so be sure to follow above instructions to let cool and sit overnight in broth.
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