HOME > Chowhound > Home Cooking >


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.


  1. Click to Upload a photo (10 MB limit)
  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.

            2. For beef, eye of the round is a fairly economical roast. Make sure to cook it rare and slice it pretty thin or it will be tough. Leftovers make great sandwiches.

              For pork I reccommend a whole pork loin. You can cut it into the size you like and freeze whatever you don't cook right away. Also you can slice part of it into boneless chops and cutlets. This is a great cut for schnitzels. The cutlets are really good sauteed too. But I digress. Leftovers make very good sandwiches.

              1 Reply
              1. re: john clark

                Yes, when I grew up, eye of round was what was meant by "roast beef" in our house; we never had any other cut, nor did we use eye of round for pot roast. It is very lean and can easily get overcooked so it cannot be cooked more well than medium rare.

                Choose a cut with as generous amount of fat on the outside as you can get. Let it stand at room temp for an hour before cooking to take the chill off and make after-cooking (the cooking that occurs when you remove the roast from the oven) less. Season with the ubiquitous salt, black pepper, onion/garlic powders, et cet. Searing ever so briefly on the stove top and finishing in a moderate oven, 18-20 mins per pound. Let rest for 15-20 mins before slicing, very thinly and if possible on the bias. Make an au jus from the pan drippings.

              2. Not a roast, but fits your description almost totally:

                Buy a London Broil.

                Cooked correctly, they are very tender, very flavorful, juicy, lean, etc. Most London Broils are 2 to 2-1/2 pounds.

                Link: http://www.gourmetsleuth.com/beefcuts...

                3 Replies
                1. re: kc girl

                  London Broil is a common name often misused.

                  I think the London Broil you are referring to can be a top sirloin (~2-3 inches thick) or a top round steak, also cut thick.

                  I like top sirloins cut thick, cooked on the BBQ. Similar treatment as a tri tip.

                  The link you posted, lists London Broil as another name for flank steak.

                  1. re: Alan408

                    Yes, you are right technically. London Broil is just a name for those steaks.

                    However, in my area (So. Cal.), they are commonly and distinctly labelled "London Broil" and are often not more than $2.75 per pound. There is very little fat, yet they are very flavorful.

                    I like to pan sear and then bake. The meat then is as tender as a filet.

                    I don't know how to cook meat on a BBQ and keep it super tender, but from my experience last weekend, I know it is possible (maybe they bbq'd and then oven baked?)

                    Anyway, it not a roast, but it fits O/P description of what she wants in a meat cut.

                    1. re: kc girl

                      However, London Broil in many parts is a 1-2" thich piece of the bottom round which is a very inferior and a less tender cut of beef.

                2. I only use Eye Round roast for making Roast Beef. Any other big chunk of meat, whatever is on sale, goes in the crockpot to make Pot Roast. When I was going to BJs I would buy the huge pieces of meat and cut them into roats, cube them for stew. I buy pork roasts mainly for the skin, so anything is ok for me, never had a bad one. I also buy the huge boneless porks and cut them into roast size portions. I use what says Sirloin steak to make steaks, and London Broil for the grill. The other night I wanted to make stew, and took a London Broil, cut it up and sprinkled with Adolphs Tenderizer, added wine and had...stew! Good luck and enjoy experimenting :)

                  1. If you are serious about learning about the various cuts of various meats. invest about $10-15 and buy a copt of Merle Ellis's Cutting-up in the Kitchen. It is out of print but readily available at Amazon or Half.com.

                    1. Are you in the US or the UK - it makes a difference when it comes to what cuts of meat are called.

                      I have found butchers to be very helpful in selecting roasts, so try asking yours.

                      A bone-in pork roast is cheaper that a sirloin or prime rib beef roast, btw.

                      1. I see a lot of hounds recommending London Broil. I always find it to look tender, but then comes out a lot more chewy than a sirloin or raost beef. Also eye round is like the center of a top round but always comes out dry to me, I guess because they remove all the fatty stuff. Both of these cuts really have to be marinaded.
                        I found a great way to make center cut pork loin (which is similar to eye round in beef, as it usually comes out a little dry). Just top it with apple sauce before baking and it is as juicy as can be!

                        3 Replies
                        1. re: coll

                          "Both of these cuts really have to be marinaded."

                          While you are somewhat right there, marinating often just adds liquid and not fat (and many say it is the fat the keeps the cut moist). The same can be accomplished by roasting the meat in a covered and sealed roaster (not just covered with foil). Then remove the lid to brown in the last minutes.

                          Maybe you are right that London Broil is not a forgiving cut. It is not highly marbled. One must learn/know how to cook it properly or it will be tougher than you want. I think pan roasting (sear and put in oven-covered until the last browning minutes) is one technique that keeps the meat ultra tender. The chef makes a difference in the tenderness of the meat as well as the particular cut.

                          I have been able to cook London Broil so it is as tender as a filet. Pan seared and then baked to under done, then take it out and let it sit on the counter uncut while it continues to cook and juice up. Then cut against the grain.

                          And, I understand the "London Broil" name on certain cuts is actually a different cut in other areas.

                          I have just experienced the most incredible grilling at Sea Blue in Las Vegas MGM Hotel that resulted in the most tender piece of flesh I have ever had. I wish I could go in their kitchen and watch how they did it. I know their chefs are highy trained, but technique is technique. Maybe I could learn. They mastered the grill and could probably turn out a good pot roast, too.

                          1. re: kc girl

                            Yes, youare right about London Broil, a chef I know made it for me that way and it was pretty good. I had forgotten. I'm probably prejudiced because that was the only steak my mother used to make and it was terrible! Luckily we each only got a couple of slices!!

                          2. re: coll

                            The problem with the term "LONDON BROIL" is that it is used to sell a lot of **VERY DIFFERENT** cuts of meat.

                            If you use the traditional FLANK STEAK and you don't overcook it AND you cut it at the proper angle, you get a great product.

                            However, if you go to one of the large union-butcher groceries (Safeway, Albertson's, Krogers, Supervalu), and you buy "London Broil", you get the bottom round, a cut that is best cooked slowly for a period of time.

                            I think someone mentioned sirloin being sold as London Broil. Yikes!!

                            Personally, if getting good meat is a priority, I prefer to find someone who really knows meat. That takes time and is relatively expensive.