Three years ago, my winter holiday dinner called for the seasonal classic: a prime rib roast. Since we had four guests, I ordered a five-rib rib roast; figuring the fifth rib would make terrific leftovers. If you know better, you know I missed that mark.
When the butcher slid my rib roast package across the counter, its size reflected the visible $150 price tag. I was one of at least 50 people in a long holiday line, so, instead of asking to reduce it to three ribs, I took it and a gift card intended for other purchases and headed for check out. When I got home, I immediately ordered a leave-it-in digital thermometer to make sure that my $150 roast would come out perfect.
The rib roast recipe I used from the seriouseats.com website promised: “A low and slow start delivers perfectly evenly cooked medium-rare doneness all the way from edge to center.”
Seriouseats’ reverse roasting method; very low heat for several hours until my roast reached 125 degrees and then cranking the oven up to 550 degrees for a final, crust-creating finish was new to me.
After letting that roast rest for 30 minutes, I sliced the first piece, beautifully pink from edge to edge, no gray-brown ring. This was true, no matter where I sliced it.
Two weeks ago, I came across a recipe, using a similar slow-roast method, for an eye of the round roast, thinking it could make a reasonably-priced roast beef dinner. The picture accompanying that recipe showed a beautiful pink from edge-to-edge roast. Sold.
I was slightly leery of buying that roast since my mother used to buy eye round roasts and then over-roasted it so that there was no pink meat to be found, just gray. Mom cubed it and turned it into her version of beef stew since there was always leftover roast.
Her dinner roast was tough and dry and got tougher and drier when cooked into a stew. Ugh. My aim was to roast my eye round to a perfect medium-rare making it moist and juicy, using a sea salt rub as a dry brine to make it tender, too. Or so I thought.
Just as I had done for my rib roast, I inserted a stay-in, temperature alarm probe right into my roast’s center and set it for 125 degrees. My very low 250-degree oven would cook my roast nice and slow. When the alarm sounded, I removed my roast from the oven and tented it with foil for 30 minutes and let it rest. When I cut my roast in half, it was perfectly-pink edge-to-edge; just as I’d wanted it to be.
I carved some seemingly thin 1/16-inch slices across the roast’s grain and served dinner.
My roast was certainly juicer than my Moms, but the meat was chewy. Good flavor, yes, just chewy. That was disappointing.
Two days later, I removed a piece of my cold roast and decided to try using my electric meat slicer to make paper-thin slices in hopes that would make my roast beef tender, which is exactly what it did. Those slices were so tender that I could use them to make nearly melt-in-your-mouth roast beef sandwiches. Wow!
If you have a way to slice roast beef into nearly see-through slices, this is the reasonably-priced roast for you.
• Don Mauer welcomes questions, comments and recipe makeover requests. Write to him at don@ theleanwizard.com.
Perfect Eye-Round Roast Beef
1 boneless (3.5 pounds) whole eye-round roast, trimmed
2 teaspoons sea salt
2 teaspoons fresh ground black pepper
1 teaspoon dried thyme
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1 teaspoon dried rosemary
1 tablespoon olive oil
Pat roast dry with paper towels and evenly distribute salt over the entire roast. Place roast in a one-gallon zipper-lock plastic bag. Remove as much air as possible, seal and refrigerate for 24 hours.
Next day, bring roast to room temperature.
Place the oven rack in the middle position and begin heating the oven to 250 degrees. Set a wire rack in the center of a rimmed baking sheet. Set aside.
Mix pepper, thyme, oregano, and rosemary in a small bowl. Remove roast from bag, pat dry with paper towels, brush with olive oil and then sprinkle all over with herb mixture and place on wire rack. Insert leave-in cooking alarm digital thermometer probe into the roast’s center. Set alarm for 125 degrees (medium-rare). Roast until alarm sounds; usually 1½ to 1¾ hours.
Remove roast from the oven. Remove probe. Tent roast with aluminum foil and let rest for 30 minutes. Cut roast into two pieces. Using a meat slicer, slice roast across the grain into thinnest possible slices.
Makes 16, 3-ounce servings.
Nutrition values per 3-ounce serving: 138 calories(23.8 percent from fat), 3.7 g fat(1.3 g saturated fat), 0 g carbohydrates (0 net carbs), 0 g sugars, 0 g fiber, 24.4 g protein, 49 mg cholesterol, 177 mg sodium.