“It’s R&B time,” says Josh Applestone, and while we’re always up for music, that’s not what he’s referring to. It’s September. He means it’s time for roasting and braising.
If you’re a Sunday roast fan, or if you make roast beef weekly, you probably already have a preferred cut. But if you’re new to roasting beef, or you’re in the market for a new cut of beef to roast, there are a few things to consider. The basic choice to make is if you want something you can roast and slice or a piece of meat to cook (braise) until it falls apart. These require two separate cuts.
Here’s how to choose.
Traditional beef cuts used for roasting and slicing include bottom round, eye round, and top round. You could also use a tenderloin. “Roast beef to me is I want a roast beef sandwich and anything else is a lie,” says Applestone. If you like a little more fat in your roast beef, choose a bottom round. If you like it leaner, you’re going to want top or eye round; “Those muscles are void of fat.” You can cook these medium rare or however you like your roast beef. Brits are notorious for their Sunday roasts and British chef Jamie Oliver serves his roast beef thinly sliced with a jam-filled gravy and roasted potatoes – not in a sandwich.
When you think of beef to braise, imagine a pot roast. Maybe there’s some gravy, potatoes, and onions. To recreate this, choose chuck, brisket, or chuck eye – all cuts that would be way too chewy cooked medium rare. The fat marbling in these is not as fine as in a bottom round, so it doesn’t melt into the muscle in the same way. “These need a wet heat to break down the tissue,” says Applestone. His favorite thing to braise is beef neck, cut into pieces. “Boil then finish in the oven. It’s delicious. The neck is the most flavorful part ever,” he says. As for your pot roast, that can be done in an oven.
Though it seems it, a roast isn’t just for a crowd. If you’re cooking for a few people, or even for one, we have roasts of all sizes in the vending machines. And you don’t have to set aside many hours to make a roast, either. It can take no time at all or it can take forever. They do very well in a pressure cooker and a slow cooker. And roasts aren’t just for Sunday! “A Sunday roast by definition is a roast you eat on Sunday. It’s just a general term and then you get into detail,” says Applestone. This detail includes pork or lamb roasts, if you prefer them to roasting beef.