HOW TO COOK AN ALL-STAR HOLIDAY BEEF ROAST AKA "THE ROAST POST"
It doesn’t get more “holiday” than a classic beef roast. Once his heart grew three sizes, even the Grinch appreciated the show-stopping goodness of the holiday roast (beast, in his case).
Nevertheless, the time, money, and pressure of handling a centerpiece dish can be daunting.
Most people don’t realize that cooking a delicious beef roast is actually EASY. And this is your year – become a master with our holiday roast guide. You’ll learn how to cook the perfect roast beef, complete with Chris Hartford’s Classic Roast Beef Recipe at the end of the post.
Rules of the roast
As you know from our guide to cooking methods, roasting is a dry heat cooking technique good for large pieces of meat. The meat is typically cooked uncovered in a hot oven. The specific techniques, length of roasting time, and temperature vary widely across recipes.
How to get the most from your roast:
- Choose the right cut and cook it with the appropriate technique.
- Let the beef get to room temperature prior to cooking.
- Season it well.
- When possible, tie the roast for uneven cuts.
- Use a meat thermometer to determine doneness.
- REST. Always let your roast sit for at least 15 – 20 minutes before serving.
Choose the best cut for your holiday roast
As with many meat terms, there is no such thing as a “beef roast.” Often, the difference between a roast and a steak is simply the size of the cut. Given the expense and commitment of a roast, it’s important to choose the right cut and apply the appropriate technique to maximize flavor and texture.
Roasting does little to tenderize the meat, so choose a tender cut to start. Three of our favorite cuts for a magical beef roast: rib roast, top sirloin roast, and tenderloin roast. See the image at the bottom of this section for a visual of primal cuts.
The hero of the beef roast: hefty, pricey, and delicious. The rib roast is juicy enough that sauce is optional. Rib roasts include Prime Rib, a favorite among beef eaters everywhere.
Flavor: √√√√√ Tenderness: √√√√ Price: √√√√√
- Cut from: the rib primal. Typically cut from ribs 6 – 12. The “large end,” ribs 6 – 9, is fattier and flavorful; ribs 10 – 12, aka the “loin end” or “small end,” is leaner and more tender.
- Also sold as: prime rib.
- How much to buy: 3 ribs feed up to 6 people; add another rib for every two people.
Top Sirloin Roast
Beefy flavor, tender, and succulent. A more approachable price tag makes this an excellent choice, especially for new roasters. Note: the vein of gristle that runs through the center should be discarded.
Flavor: √√√√ Tenderness: √√√ Price: √√
- Cut from: the sirloin primal
- Also sold as: top butt, center-cut roast
- How much to buy: 1/3 lb. per person
The most tender cut, with a buttery texture. Due to its mild flavor, the tenderloin roast benefits from a flavorful rub or sauce.
Flavor: √√√√ Tenderness: √√√√√ Price: √√√√√
- Cut from: the short loin
- Also sold as: whole filet, Chateaubriand
- How much to buy: 1/3 – 1/2 lb. per person
Honorable mention: other roasts
Less tender roasts – chuck eye roast, round roast, etc. – are best suited for braising or other long, slow cooking techniques that tenderize.
HOW TO COOK A BEEF ROAST
Fast and high? Low and slow? A combination of techniques? Ask five chefs the best way to cook a beef roast – temperature, time, technique – and you’ll likely get five different answers.
Often, the meat is browned or seared before roasting, but this can also be done at the end – or not at all. Some chefs tout combination or sophisticated (but simple) techniques like the Food Lab’s Perfect Prime Rib, calling for low long temp to start, and finishing in a super hot oven to create a perfect crust.
Our advice: don’t get hung up on only one “right” way to roast a cut of beef. Roasting is simpler than you think. Regardless of the recipe, follow the rules below and you won’t go astray.
- Room temp for a boast-able roast: Take your roast out of the fridge a good 20 minutes ahead of cooking to get it to room temperature. This will help the roast cook evenly.
- ‘Tis the SEASON (sorry): Seriously, though, don’t be shy with seasoning. At the least, apply some kosher salt all over the roast and let it stand for about an hour. The salt will draw out the juices, which combine with the salt and are reabsorbed by the roast. Mmmmmmmm.
- Say it with me – THER-MOM-ETER: Throw away those timetables! There’s no magical chart to tell you when your roast is done. Some charts say 8 – 11 mins/lb. for tenderloin and 20-25 mins/lb. for rib and sirloin roasts – but use these as only a very rough guide. Don’t leave it to chance.
Large roasts rise at least 5 degrees between the time you take them out of the oven and carve them.
Before the meat rests, target temperatures in degrees:
- Rare: 115 – 120
- Medium rare: 120 – 125
- Medium: 130 – 135
- Medium Well: 140 – 145
- Well done: 150 – 155
- Give it a REST: Let the roast sit for at least 15 minutes and up to an hour before serving. Resting the meat relaxes the muscle fibers and the juices to thicken. Read: the essential step for truly juicy beef.
Extra Credit: Tying a Roast
Most roasts are unevenly shaped; tying the roast ensures the roast cooks evenly.
Don’t fret. If you know how to tie your shoes, you’ll figure this out (even if you fumble a bit at first). Butcher’s twine is inexpensive and easy to find. In a jam? Try unwaxed dental floss or twist up lengths of foil. Or skip the tie – it’s not the end of the world.
Serious Eats has a great step-by-step guide, complete with a short video. This video from Cordon Bleu also offers great, thorough instruction.
CHRIS HARTFORD’S CLASSIC RIB ROAST
One of our best sales reps is also a classically trained chef. But he’s also as down to earth as it gets. This grass-fed holiday roast is as straightforward as Chris’s Verde Farms pitch. Read it, cook it, bring cheer to everyone in your house.
9 lb. Verde Farms Organic Grass-Fed ribeye roast
1/4 cup fresh oregano, chopped
1/4 cup fresh rosemary, chopped
1/2 cup fresh parsley, chopped
1/4 cup fresh thyme, chopped
4 cloves roughly chopped garlic
1/4 – 1/2 cup oil – enough to cover herbs when rubbed onto the beef (not every herb is meant to burn, heh)
Remove roast from fridge at least 1 hour prior to cooking to get to room temperature.
Preheat oven to 400 degrees
Apply kosher salt and ground pepper to the meat
Combine oil, garlic, herbs and rub mixture all over roast
Place roast on a sheet pan on the center baking rack
Roast for ~15 minutes
Take out roast, turn oven temperature down to 300
Tent roast with foil and return to oven; cook for ~45 – 55 minutes
When center of beef reaches 110 degrees, remove foil and cook until internal temp reaches 120 (~5 minutes)
Let meat rest at least 20 minutes before serving
And then… TOAST YOUR ROAST!
Show them you really care
Of course, if you really love your guests, you’ll treat them to the best grass-fed beef for this holiday’s main dish. Verde Farms grass-fed organic tenderloin and rib roasts are available through the holidays at select BJ’s Wholesale clubs! Click here to find a store near you.