Cook's Illustrated Slow Roast Beef

Posted Wednesday, December 21, 2022 by Sri.Tagged MEMO, COOKING
EDITING PHASE:second draft

This is a good recipe that relies on the power of enzymatic action to tenderize a tough cut of beef (like top round). It's one of the recipes you can find in various editions of the Cook's Illustrated specials and America's Test Kitchen (ATK) cookbooks. Lots of sites on the Internet steal the recipe.

The Cook's Illustrated researcher wondered how to get the tenderness of a long (8+ hour) low temperature roast in less time. Typical roast beef recipes use high heat to get attract browning cook and get dinner on the table in an hour or so. However, this leaves the meat very tough unless you've used a tenderizing solution which makes the meat mushy. Bleah!

The technique ATK came up with is based on keeping the enzymes that break down fiber active longer. As the temperature increases, these enzymes become more active until they break down; the trick is to stay within the temp window of 115-122F as long as possible while also raising the temperature of the meat fast enough to get out of the bacterial danger zone.

Principles of the Recipe

  • Salt the meat on all sides 24 hours in advance and tightly seal in plastic wrap. This gives the salt time to work itself into the meat for additional flavor.
  • Dry and sear the outside of the meat on all sides to get the appetizing and attractive Malliard reaction. I usually skip this step.
  • Use a low temperature oven (225F) and a temperature probe to monitor internal temps. I use a Meater+ wireless thermometer and a ThermoWorks continuous probe to get a sense of the difference between the center. The Meater+ also reads the ambient oven temperature so I can dial-it-in more precisely on my ancient electric stove.
  • When the temp hits 115F for medium rare, turn off the oven and let it coast to the final temperature of 130F, then let it rest for another 40 minutes or so before you cut it up very thinly.
  • For medium, use 125F and 140F instead.

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