Cold cuts and warm weather go hand in hand. And there’s almost nothing better than a homemade roast beef sandwich. We know more than a few of you are working on perfecting your roast beef because you’re asking our retail staff questions about best recipes and tips to keep it from drying out.
We also know some of you are starting to preserve and freeze local fruits and vegetables for winter – and are wondering how to do the same with meat. In this installment of Ask the Butcher, Josh Applestone weighs in on both topics. He has resources for curing meat and a recipe for perfect roast beef. If you want to ask the butcher anything, send us an email, and he’ll answer.
I’m getting really into preserving food. I already have strawberries and greens in my case freezer for the winter, and will start canning soon. Is there a way to preserve meat, too?
If you’re just getting started preserving, you’re going to want to start with salt-curing meat. Do salt pork. Do it with raw belly. Pack it in salt for a month, wash it off, dry it and let it hang for a while. Make guanciale – get in touch and custom order pork jowls with their skin on ahead of time. It’s easy. Try a prosciutto. Pack it in salt. People do it. Just be careful.
Starting with salt is 101. Eventually you could try cold smoking. There’s a recipe in The Butcher’s Guide to Well-Raised Meat for bresaola using eye round and it calls for cold smoking. This lightly flavors the meat. But it doesn’t have to be done.
Another great thing to try when you’re getting started preserving meat is beef jerky. This is my recipe I shared with my friends at Joe Beef. It’s in their latest cookbook.
You can also confit. Pack stuff in fat in the fridge! That’s going to last forever. You can stick anything with light muscles in fat forever. People think it’s just for duck legs. It’s not. Try pork chops.
But before you try anything, if you’re just getting into this, do some reading. There are great books out there to check out. Spend some time with them. Off the top of my head, you for sure want to look through River Cottage and Olympic Provisions’ book. Also Charcuterie by Michael Ruhlman.
What’s the best way to cook roast beef with an eye round roast? We love it for sandwiches for work or school and sometimes picnics. I’m trying to keep it from drying out.
We also have a great recipe for roast beef in The Butcher’s Guide to Well-Raised Meat – I’m reprinting it below. If you’re worried about your roast beef drying out, there are a few things you can do. 1. Do it really rare. 2. Use less salt. 3. Let it rest. That is a really big deal; if you don’t let it rest after cooking and you cut right into it, it will be dry. Also, cut it thin. You can do this at home; it’s not hard. Always use a sharp knife. I use my knuckles as a spacer.
Eye round, if you’re curious, is from the steers’ hindquarter (in the middle, near the aitchbone), which means it is extremely flavorful but too tough to make a good steak. That also means it’s inexpensive.
THE BEST ROAST BEEF
A perfect roast beef is a thing of beauty. It is simple, economical, and delicious. Roast beef is great for sandwiches, or throw together some sort of mustardy-horseradishy concoction and serve it to your friends instead of prime rib. One eye round is great for a family of four for one meal plus a couple of days of leftovers for sandwiches. Roast beef should last for about five days in the refrigerator – the meat will still be delicious and safe to eat, though it won’t look as perfect as it did on day one. We don’t recommend freezing roast beef as it will dry out considerably and look unappetizing.
SERVES 4 WITH LEFTOVERS
1 (3- to 5- pound) eye round, cleaned of silver skin, fat, and sinew
3 teaspoons kosher salt
1 ½ teaspoons freshly ground black pepper
3 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 medium onion, sliced into ½ inch-thick rounds
4 garlic cloves, lightly crushed
6 (2-inch) marrow bones
3 tablespoons unsalted butter sliced into thin pats
½ cup beef or chicken stock (preferably homemade) or white wine
A crusty baguette
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
Tie the eye round with butcher’s twine. Season generously with salt and pepper.
In a large roasting pan set over high heat, heat the oil until it’s almost smoking. Sear the roast on all sides until it has a good brown crust, 4 to 5 minutes per side. Transfer the roast to a plate and set aside. Add the onion and garlic to the pan and cook, stirring, until browned, about 5 minutes.
Settle the bones among the onion and garlic, arranging them into a rack. Put the roast on top of the bones and onion, then scatter the butter pats over the top of the meat. Add stock or wine to the bottom of the pan, making sure the liquid does not cover the bones.
Transfer the roasting pan to the oven and cook for 35 minutes, basting every 15 minutes or so with the pan juices and the stock.
The roast is done when an instant-read thermometer inserted into the thickest part of the meat registers 120 degrees F. for medium-rare. Remove the pan from the oven and let it rest for 5 to 10 minutes before slicing.
The roast can be served hot or at room temperature. Spread the marrow from the bones on bread to accompany the meal.