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Jan 14, 2005 11:52 AM

teach me about ROASTS

  • m

I'm relatively inexperienced in this area, and I'm not convinced I'm making the best selections at my butcher shop. And so...

wanted: recommendations for tasty, **cheap**, gristle-free, lean to lightly marbled cuts of beef or pork that make perfect 2-3 lb. roasts.


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  1. a
    Austin Powers

    And I'd like a golden commode. No seriously, cheap cuts don't make for good roasts, but they braise very well. You'll need to rethink your strategy or save a little longer for a better cut.

    1. Your butcher is an excellent source of information about how to cook with meat, roasts or otherwise. Let him describe the different things he does with different cuts of meat. I haven't made a beef-based soup in many many years and figured on using stew meat. A Whole Foods butcher steered me away from "cheap" stew meat when I said I was making soup to recommend a hanger steak, which is what he said he liked to use. It made a huge difference in the end product and turned out to be the best soup I ever made.

      1 Reply
      1. re: Ellen

        I recently used hanger steak for a Thai curry. The meat is so flavorful the juices it released made a huge flavor impact on the curry.

      2. In my opinion, the good person to teach you about roasts is your butcher. A "real butcher", not a necessarily meat counter clerk. Explain what you want to your local butcher and ask for cooking instructions/tips. Follow his/her recommendations and let the butcher know how you liked it, then make the necessary adjustments. Also, please note: meat is not uniform, not all animals have the same amount of fat.

        Some names are store specific or regional. My local butcher sells a "Diamond Jim", it is somewhere betweem the ribeye and cross rib.

        You mentioned no gristle, that will be expensive, my comment is the diner has to learn how to cut around the gristle, the same way many diners now cut around the fat.

        A two pound roast will not develop the flavor of a 4 pound roast. I try to buy 3.5 to 4.5 lb roasts. I like the exterior to be "roasted", won't happen with a 2 lb roast, the inside will be cooked before the outside has been able to "roast".

        For everyday beef roasts: top sirloin, cross rib, are my favorites, but both have 1/8" line of gristle. Top sirloin are often smaller than a cross rib. The only beef roasts I can think of that do not have gristle are: prime rib, ribeye, tenderloin. Those roasts costs about two/three times as much as a sirloin/cross rib. Even a new york can have some gristle.

        For everyday pork roasts: Double (two loins tied together) center cut loins are my favorite. For a juicer pork roast, I get what my butcher calls a club roast. Single loin, but closer to the sirloin than a center cut. Juicer means more fat and doesn't meet your lean to lightly marbled requirement, but it is very easy for the diner to cut around. I don't do many "clubs", but I think they have some gristle, but pork roast gristle is not as tough as beef roast gristle.

        1. There's kinda no such thing as lightly marbled, tasty AND cheap. Everybody wants that.

          Beef round roasts tend to be quite lean and gristle-free, and are relatively inexpensive, but they are less tender and less tasty than other cuts. Sear it quickly on the stovetop, then roast s-l-o-w-l-y to an internal temperature of about 125 for med. rare. Then make up a nice rich gravy or jus to flavor things up.

          2 Replies
          1. re: Pete-Man

            Pete's post is an example of regional names.

            I think a beef round roast in my area is a "rump roast" or "round tip roast" depending on location on the animal. And, I think when it is corned, it becomes a centercut and/or eye of the round.

            Pete's recommendation is a very lean roast, and to me; lean means less flavor and less tender. I use "rump roasts" for roast beef sandwiches, as there is very little or no gristle. I like corned centercut/eye of the round for corned beef sandwiches.

            1. re: Alan408
              King of Northern Blvd.

              You would be better off with a Top Round than with a rump roast. Corning does not make it an eyeround. An eyeround is a cut as well.

          2. I need Roast lessons too. I understand how to do a standing rib roast, and I understand how to braise a roast until it's tender, but cooked through. I also know how to roast a tenderloin, but I can't buy them anyway except whole, and there are only two of us.

            What I want is a cut of meat that could be cooked into RARE roast beef. What do they use in delis? Surely not tenderloin or prime rib.

            The millions of different roast names confuse me, and there's not a butcher shop (outside a grocery store) within a hundred miles.

            3 Replies
            1. re: danna

              Delis use trimmed Top Round, if you get it at a grocery store it's usually only a few lbs. I've been buying at BJs lately but they're more like 6 lb +, and they come out rarer that way.
              Here's what the delis do (the few that still make their own, because it's against the law to serve rare roast beef anymore): Let sit for an hour or so to get rid of chill, then coat the top with thick layer of salt, pepper, garlic powder and every other spice and herb you like. Then cook 20 min a lb, that's it.

              1. re: coll

                Thanks, I'll give it a whirl.

                Illegal to serve rare roast beef? Are you joking? If not, where do you live? I'm in the Carolinas where it is illegal to cook a burger less than medium. It drives me insane. But I never heard of restrictions on anything other than ground beef.

                1. re: danna

                  Yes, roast beef has to be cooked to 140, which will not be too red or bloody normally. There are now beef processors that have figured out how to cook a small roast beef (about 8 lb) overnight at a low temp and it will hit 140 and still be red inside, almost like smoking from what I understand. Anyway it's almost impossible to make a rare roast beef to health dept specifications. Most of what you see in NY is a precooked roast, it's not worth fighting the health dept nowadyas.