Roast Beef for Sandwiches
The roast beef for sandwiches that I have been buying at the supermarkets is utterly inedible and expensive. I would love to make my own but am unsure of what cut of beef and how to cook it so that is remains rare to medium rare (slow cooking?) and tender. Any suggestions? Thanks.
I make roast beef sandwiches out of virtually every cut of left over beef I might have in the refrigerator. My preference would be eye of the round, but I've used chuck roast, beef brisket, rib eye steak and lots of other cuts. The key to making a good roast beef sandwich, IMO, is to cut the meat as thin as possible and across the grain. Whether it's rare/medium rare or (ugh) well done is a matter of personal choice but it's gotta be thinly cut; cross grain.
Personally, I don't buy roast beef at the store. Strangely, certain delis do in house RB and its fantastic, the cut is usually chuck roast as far as I can tell. If I want a rare, home made beef sammie, its tenderloin-bought in bulk. I use the "off cuts" to make sandwiches with watercress, parm shavings and horseradish.
The cut used by lots of restaurants in California is the cross-rib roast, which I have encountered only here and can't find in any charts (kinda like tri-tip). It's off the chuck. The meat guide I just consulted says it's too tough to roast dry, but tell that to the restaurants! It does have to be sliced very thin, and I think I'd bard it with sheets of suet, but at a sandwich shop where I washed dishes for a while the woman would roast two of these every day, right behind where I was working, and the smell would make me weak in the knees. More aromatic than prime rib ever thought of being.
Rump roasts and "Eye of Round" roasts are well shaped for slicing. They have a lot of flavor but they are considered pretty tough. Consequently, they can be a challenge to cook but the left overs make great sandwiches.
Most of the best Roast Beef you see in supermarkets are made from Top Rounds. Even the ones that are actually made at the store. They take off the cap as it separates when you slice it anyways. You want to get a smaller top round like 7-8 pds. Have a butcher trim it and take the cap off. You can coat it with salt, pepper and some garlic if you like that flavor profile. If you like a rare roast beef, put the roast in a 300 degree oven until you reach an interior temp of 135 degrees. If you want to eat it chilled like deli meat, you'll have to put it in the fridge right away. Otherwise you have to be concerned about contamination letting it cool down too slow.
The commercial process for Roast Beef is pretty extensive with injected beef, tumbled and roasted then cooled in computer controlled environments. Chances are if you make a roast beef yourself, it will be dry due to the fact that you are using a very lean piece of chuck.
Good luck in your endeavor.