Saturday, April 12, 2008

Choosing a Beef Roast

I've been thinking about roasts recently; actually I've been thinking about them since this morning, when our friend from London emailed me a question about them. Gotta love the roast; as long as you have a thermometer and a big enough pan you can feed as many people as you want. The question is this; which roast is best?? There are many different types at many different price points; how do you choose.

First a word about "prime fillet." This is the roast that, if cut into pieces, would be fillet mignon. Feh. Its really expensive, a bit of a pain to cook (the sweet spot for getting the doneness right is rather narrow), and in my humble opinion, flavorless. Leave it for the Bar-Mitvahs.

Chuck roast is cheap, reasonably available, and is quite tender. The biggest issue is its toughness. I use chuck roasts to make chili and many other types of stewed meat. I recently tried to make it as a pot-roast. The concept seemed to work but it needed to cook a lot longer than I gave it (2 hours +). It also smokes well. When I perfect the pot roast recipe, I will post it.

Round roasts are commonly seen in supermarkets. I often buy them at King Kullen on the way to Fire Island. When roasted, they are tasty but need to cut extremely thin because of their toughness. I have smoked a few and they are much better this way.

My favorite type of roast is the prime rib roast with the bone in. Although you will need a second mortgage to buy one, it makes an incredibly tasty piece of meat. The bones are always a favorite for some people, and, if large enough (>5 pounds) its possible to have a range of doneness to make most people happy. There is always some guy who likes it gray, and this person can not be helped.

A question I recently was asked is which roast would I serve cold. Obviously any of the cheaper cuts that are smoked or braised could be served cold without a problem. They probably taste better this way. For roasted meat, I'd still go with rib roast. I might not do bone in however: guests gnawing on cold bones may be a bit gross. The roast pictured above is such a roast.

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