Thursday, November 02, 2006
Roast Roast Roast Beef
I like to serve roast beef (whole sirloin) when we have lots of people over to the house. With minimal work, it is possible to serve a roast beef to many people. It does not take a lot of your time either, although it takes a lot of preparation. You have to remember to check the temperature of the roast frequently. All non-vegetarians seem to like it, and sirloin is a relatively inexpensive cut of meat. You can throw it roast potatoes (which you make in the same pan) for a completely tasty carnivorous meal. If you do make the potatoes, there will not be enough grease or drippings to make gravy, but roast beef tastes good with good mustard or even a little bit of salt. For very special occasions you can up the stakes by making a prime rib. I personally do not like to make tenderloin as it tastes like expensive, soft nothing.
The trick is the bying and tying of the beef. I find the best way to do an excellent job of tying is to have someone else do it. Its nothing personal, but a good butcher is a professional who can truss up a roast completely while you are still trying to find the twine and scissors. Our friends at Ottomanelli's on West 79th Street have excellent meat and are the friendliest butchers on the West side (and we all know whose butchers are NOTthe friendliest). They have an excellent roast, and they do a beautiful job of tying it with butcher's twine. You can call ahead and they will have it ready.
How big a roast to buy is a question I have never been able to answer well but I will try. The most important thing to know is that it is better to waste $8.00 and a bit of meat and buy more than you need. A larger roast is easier to cook anyway. I usually use a formula of 8 ounces per man, 6 ounces per woman, and 4 ounces per child. Teenagers and fat guys can easily eat 12 ounces of meat or more so be ready. A 6 1/2 pound roast is a good size for 12 adults and 6 kids. How did I get this number? I made it up.
Potatoes are an excellent side dish with roast beef. Roast potatoes can be made in the same pan as the roast beef. A fattier roast will produce better, browner potatoes. Adding some olive oil to the potatoes will help them brown in this situation.
Roast Beef (usually sirloin): tied up with butcher's twine (at least 5 pounds!)
Yukon Gold or other boiler potato, peeled: 2 small or one large per person
Thyme (1 to 2 teaspoons)
EQUIPMENT YOU WILL NEED
Large Roasting Pan
Instant Read Meat Thermometer (the digital one)
Peeler (see my recommendation here)
Serving tray that will hold drippings from roast and not cause a mess
I like cooking hot. Preheat oven to 500 degrees. Pat meat down with paper towels, salt heavily and pepper lightly. Grease roasting pan with olive oil and put roast in. While oven heats peel potatoes and cut into quarters (cut lengthwise twice to make long fingers of potatoes). Coat in olive oil and add salt and add Thyme. Put aside.
Put pan in oven when heated. After about 10 minutes open the oven and using a spatula, make sure the roast is not stuck to the bottom of the pan. Add the potatoes. They should all be touching the roasting pan and some room around. If you have to many potatoes, I will have another recipe for making them separately soon. Close oven. Turn heat down to 350 after about 15 more minutes (If your oven starts to smoke, turn it down! It will still taste great and fire sucks).
The most important question to answer, and the hardest, is how long to cook the roast for. The answer is "it depends." Fattier cuts of meat take longer, and sirloin is rather lean. Even at 350 degrees, each pound of meat adds 15 to 20 minutes per pound, depending on doneness.
If you make a six pound roast, and let it cook to an internal temperature minimum of 125 degrees, figure it will take 80 minutes to cook the roast, but the times will vary. A lot.
As you can see, the need for extra time in cooking is very important. The other really important thing is a good instant read thermometer. I currently use an inexpensive one that I bought at Target, but have recently received a cool new one from my friend Dan, from Gadgetoff, the greatest event on the planet. I plan to review it soon.
Even when you use a thermometer, how do you know the meat is done. I like taking several measurements. The lowest one, usually in the center of the roast, should be in the rare range, at 120 to 125 degrees. In a large roast, the sides will be warmer, hopefully in the 128 to 135 degree category. You can give those people that eat well done the ends. Thats what they deserve.
As you take the temperature, flip the potatoes around and makde sure they are well coated and browning. They are hard to overcook, but, if you are worried "test one." No one will ever learn.
After you remove the roast, it MUST rest for 20 minutes or so. This will let the juices redistribute. Cooking will continue, so if you really like red and bloody, make sure to take it out when the middle is 120 and the sides not much more. If the roast rests, even if it is quite red to the eye, it will be more cooked than it looks. This makes everyone happy!
Slice as thinly as you can with a good knife. Serve with the potatoes. I will have more on sauces later, but you can make an excellent mustard sauce with a good Dijon Mustard (I like Maile) mixed with a little bit of milk.