Grandma's Roast Beef with Gravy

From Cook's Country | December/January 2011

Why this recipe works:

Salting the meat for our Grandma's Roast Beef with Gravy recipe and letting it sit overnight helped season the meat and developed more flavor. To get a good crust and tender meat without overcooking, we first seared the roast on the stovetop and then finished it in a low oven. Setting the… read more

Salting the meat for our Grandma's Roast Beef with Gravy recipe and letting it sit overnight helped season the meat and developed more flavor. To get a good crust and tender meat without overcooking, we first seared the roast on the stovetop and then finished it in a low oven. Setting the roast on top of the vegetables eliminated the need for a V-rack and enhanced the flavor of our gravy.

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Serves 6 to 8

For even deeper seasoning, refrigerate the salt-rubbed roast for 24 hours. You can substitute top sirloin for the top round. Look for an evenly shaped roast with a 1/4-inch fat cap. Tie kitchen twine in 1-inch intervals around the circumference of the meat.

Ingredients

  • 1 (4- to 5-pound) boneless top round roast, tied (see note)
  • Salt and pepper
  • 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
  • 4 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 2 carrots, peeled and cut into 2-inch pieces
  • 1 onion, peeled and cut into 1/2-inch rounds
  • 1 celery rib, cut into 2-inch pieces
  • 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon tomato paste
  • 2 (10.5-ounce) cans beef consommé
  • 1 1/2 cups water

Instructions

  1. 1. SEASON MEAT Pat roast dry with paper towels and rub with 2 teaspoons salt. Wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate at least 1 hour or up to 24 hours.

    2. BROWN ROAST Adjust oven rack to middle position and heat oven to 225 degrees. Pat roast dry with paper towels and rub with 2 teaspoons pepper. Heat oil in large ovensafe skillet over medium-high heat until just smoking. Brown roast all over, 8 to 12 minutes; transfer to plate.

    3. ROAST BEEF Pour off all but 2 tablespoons fat from pan. Add butter to skillet and melt over medium heat. Cook carrots, onion, and celery until lightly browned, 6 to 8 minutes. Add flour and tomato paste and cook until flour is golden and paste begins to darken, about 2 minutes. Off heat, push vegetables to center of pan. Place roast on top of vegetable and transfer skillet to oven. Cook until meat registers 125 degrees (for medium-rare), 2 1/2 to 3 1/2 hours. Transfer roast to carving board, tent with foil, and let rest 20 minutes.

    4. MAKE GRAVY Meanwhile, keeping in mind that handle will be hot, return skillet with vegetables to medium-high heat and cook, stirring occasionally, until vegetables are deep golden brown, about 5 minutes. Slowly whisk in consommé and water, scraping up any browned bits, and bring to boil. Reduce heat to medium and simmer until thickened, 10 to 15 minutes. Strain gravy through fine-mesh strainer into serving bowl; discard vegetables. Season with salt and pepper.

    5. CARVE Remove kitchen twine from roast. Thinly slice roast crosswise against grain. Serve with gravy.

Ingredients: The Right Roast

This recipe uses a top round roast, an inexpensive cut from the rump of the steer that’s most commonly roasted and sliced for deli sandwiches. Since this cut is irregular, we tie it with kitchen twine to create a uniform shape that will cook evenly. And because it’s relatively lean, we sear the roast quickly on the stovetop to build flavor before roasting it slowly so that it doesn’t overcook and dry out.

TOP ROUND: Don’t rush it and it’ll make a fine roast.

Beef Consommé

Many gravy recipes call for beef broth to be added to the drippings. In search of more potent flavor, we cooked down the beef broth to half its original volume, and the gravy was much improved. To get the same concentrated beef flavor without the bother of dirtying another pan to reduce the beef broth, we turned to canned condensed beef consommé, to which we added only half of the water called for to reconstitute it. This gave our gravy big beefy flavor without requiring extra work.

FLAVOR BUILDER: Fast path to beefy gravy.

Test Kitchen Technique: Avoiding the Dreaded Gray Band

Cooking meat at too high a temperature can result in an overcooked, dried-out gray-brown band around the perimeter of each slice. We roast at a low temperature (searing the meat first for a flavorful crust) for a juicy interior with a more uniform rosy-pink color.

BAD BEEF: When you cook a roast too fast (as shown here), the outside overcooks and dries out.

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