Magnificent roast beef is the showstopping star of any holiday meal. The house slowly fills with a mouthwatering aroma. Anticipation builds. A steady stream of kids and adults wander into the kitchen to ask one question, “Is it ready?”
The moment arrives. A collective “aaahh” escapes the crowd as you carve that first piece. Brown and crusty on the outside, juicy and fork-tender on the inside. Who can resist that meaty richness? It's so succulent, it nearly melts in your mouth.
What may surprise you is how easy this elegant entre´e is to prepare. In 20 minutes or less you can have it prepped and in the oven. Complete the meal with a savory gravy and simple sides such as fingerling potatoes, steamed green beans and hot rolls. Only you will know what a snap it was putting together this classic feast.
Four holiday recipes are featured in this issue, including perennial favorites and an appetizing new strip loin roast.
Which one is best for you? If you love the buttery richness of prime rib, the rib roast is a perfect choice, says T. Luke Peters, chef at the Edgewood Hy-Vee in Cedar Rapids, Iowa. If you’re looking for a lean boneless roast that will cook quickly and offer exceptional tenderness and flavor, he heartily recommends the beef tenderloin or the Kansas City strip loin roast, which is a boneless T-bone steak with no fat.
These premium all-natural beef roasts from Amana Beef and Angus Reserve are hand-picked for quality and tenderness, and available exclusively at Hy-Vee. Every bite is pleasurable, as flavorful juices flow from the tender meat. All Amana beef is USDA Choice or Prime, the highest possible grades. It's produced in the upper Midwest in cooperation with the Amana Society and Amana Farms. Angus Reserve comes from beef cattle raised in the Midwest and West by farmers and ranchers whose families have been raising cattle for generations. “These are just beautiful roasts,—each is really a flavorful piece of meat,” says Chef Luke.
MAKING THE PURCHASE
“All we offer is premium beef,” says Jerry Parker, Cedar Rapids Hy-Vee meat market manager. “We wouldn’t put it in our cases if we wouldn’t serve it to our own families.”
Purchase about 8 ounces of beef per serving for “holiday helpings.” If you choose a bone-in roast, figure on one serving per pound. Generally, a boneless roast yields 11⁄2 servings per pound.
During the holidays, it’s a good idea to call your Hy-Vee meat counter in advance and order the type and size of roast you need. Precut roasts are always available.
For a bone-in rib roast, ask a Hy-Vee meat specialist to cut the rib bones from the meat, then tie the meat to the bones. Tying the meat helps retain full flavor of the bones, while carving will be easier.
The day of the big meal, move your roast from the refrigerator to a preheated oven. Chef Luke says there’s no need to wash the meat or bring it to room temperature. Special-occasion roasts are so flavorful that simple rubs and dry- heat roasting—no water in the pan—are all it takes to reach tender perfection.
Cook the roast with your favorite combination of herbs and seasonings—even using only salt and pepper works just fine. Or dress up a roast with one of these flavorful combos: black pepper, basil and thyme; fresh minced garlic, chopped parsley and kosher or sea salt; or lemon pepper and rosemary. Dry seasoning mixes are also available at your local Hy-Vee. Massage seasonings into all sides of the roast, patting them into the meat.
Seal in juices by cooktop-searing meat prior to roasting. To control spattering, searing is best in a large frying pan with high sides or a Dutch oven, though any large frying pan will work. Fry the meat in oil for about 2 minutes on one side or until a brownish crust forms on the outside. Flip, and sear the other side for about 2 minutes or until a crust forms. Searing works especially well with a lean tenderloin.
To roast, place meat fat side up on a rack in a shallow roasting pan. For proper heat circulation, a roasting pan should have at least a 1-inch space between the roast and the pan’s sides. Insert an ovenproof meat thermometer so the tip is centered in the thickest part of the roast, not resting in fat or touching bone. “I like to use a thermometer that beeps when the roast reaches the right temperature, so I don’t lose track of time while I’m busy making sides,” Chef Luke says.
Until recently, recommended cooking temperatures were widely agreed upon. Heating low and slow was the road to juicy perfection. With this approach, beef is roasted at one middle-range setting until it reaches the ideal, safe internal temperature. Low and slow is a foolproof method that Chef Luke recommends for most busy home cooks. See roasting chart on page 33.
However, some chefs now prefer a new technique. It calls for searing meat inside the oven on high heat—450° to 500°F—for the first 10 to 20 minutes, then dropping the temperature to 250° to 275°F and cooking until the roast reaches the required internal temperature. While this method takes more attention, the result is impressive flavor from rapid cooking. For internal temperatures, see roasting chart on page 33.
Whichever method you use, pay close attention to your meat thermometer. Immediately remove the roast from the oven when the desired internal temperature is reached. “The fastest way to ruin a premium roast is to overcook it,” says Chef Luke. Transfer the roast from the oven to a carving board and let it rest under a foil tent for 15 minutes. While resting, the internal temperature rises about 10°F, allowing the roast to finish cooking. This produces a firmer, juicier, easier-to-carve roast.
While the roast rests, use the pan drippings to make stovetop gravy. Drippings are the secret to fabulous gravy because they contain caramelized bits of cooked meat. If there’s a lot of drippings in the pan, skim off the fat. If the pan is bone-dry with a thin layer of brown bits on the bottom, you can still make gravy. Pour a small amount of red wine, beef broth, water or a combination of these liquids into the pan. Deglaze the pan by bringing the mixture to boiling, stirring and scraping free the browned bits. Once the pan is deglazed, add more broth and continue simmering to reduce the gravy and concentrate the flavor. To thicken the gravy, mix cornstarch with a small amount of water and add it to the pan mixture. Taste the gravy and season as desired. If there was little or no fat in the drippings, add a touch of butter or some olive oil. If you prefer your gravy to be smooth, strain it before serving.
“You want this roast to be served within 20 minutes after pulling it out of the oven,” says Chef Luke. “You don’t want it to cool down because then it’s not as flavorful.”
Expertly carve the roast with a sharp chef’s knife and wait for the compliments to roll in.