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Top Round Roast?

I've ordered a 5 pound top round roast from the butcher and now I'm wondering how to roast it so that it comes out medium-rare and not too tough. This roast was recommended by the butcher as a less expensive substitute for a standing rib. Will I be able to make a tasty gravy/sauce from the drippingts?

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  1. Roast it to an internal temp of your choosing. 125F-ish. You can start high, and turn down, start low, turn to high. But, after doing several roasts in different ways, if going for a medium rare, it's all about internal temperature. Lots of different ways of going about it, and each have their propnents claiming it's the "best."

    1. There are MANY threads about roasting cheaper cuts. Search this board using the terms Cook's Illustrated slow roast eye round. I know you are using a different cut but it's the same method.
      You have to use LOW heat for the oven time, whether you sear at the beginning or at the end.
      Do not attempt this unless you have a meat thermometer, and an oven thermometer is a good idea as well. You will also need a good carving knife as this roast must be sliced very thinly.

      1. I question your butcher's credibility and knowledge. While you certainly make a roast beef out of Top Round, it is hardly a substitute, or rather a good substitute. There's a lot of love on here for the Cook's Illustrated Eye Round Roast, personally, I find that a poor substitute as well unless you have a commercial slicer and want to make cold cut thin slices....I will say however, the method is good to obtain a medium rare piece of beef, i.e., low temperature slow roasted.

        The cut of beef known as *The Poor Man's Prime Rib Roast* is Whole Top Butt Sirloin.


        Two other cuts of beef that have lots of beefy taste and can be slow roasted tender....are Chuck Roast and Top Blade Roast. Top Blade Roast is the whole piece of beef they make Top Blade or Flat Iron Steaks out of. If you like to see some pictures of Chuck Roast or Seven Blade Roast with medium-rare results, have a look here.



        As wyogal indicates, there are many number of ways to achieve a temperature of medium-rare for beef. Higher heat will results in an outer gray ring on the roast and a pink center. With low temperature, the meat will have the outside brown crust, but a pink interior throughout. The preferred method to roast beef commercially is low and slow...as it naturally mimics the dry age process to break down the meat, thus making it more tender. It also provides minimal shrinkage and the highest yield.

        6 Replies
        1. re: fourunder

          I could not agree more about cut selection. Those two suggestions are the least flavorful choices imaginable.

          1. re: mcf

            I'm not sure what two choices you are referring to. My experience with chuck roast, seven bone or blade roasts are only worthwhile if pot roasted! I'm getting the top round from a reliable butcher that hasn't steered me wrong in the last 30 years. He deals almost exclusively with prime beef. I think I'll go with low and slow. Any tips on seasoning or length of time for a 5-pound rolled and tied top round roast?

            1. re: HBGigi

              s&p, garlic, rosemary.
              time, I always look up approximate times in my trusty red and white checked cook book, then use a thermometer.

              1. re: HBGigi

                Top round and eye round, I was agreeing with fourunder. They have the least flavor and least pleasing texture, they're just too lean to be flavorful. I season pretty heavily with kosher salt, fresh cracked black pepper.

                1. re: HBGigi

                  Hi HBGigi,
                  I've used Kenji's method for Prime Ribs on other cuts very successfully. Perfect rare throughout and you can still get the crusty exterior. Here's a link to the Serious Eats article:


                  It's basically a slow and low approach, but then you take it out to bring it down in temp. While it's cooling you crank the oven as high as it will go. Put the roast back in to achieve desired browning. It's actually a great article with a full breakdown of several methodologies and how he arrived at the best approach.

                  1. re: larkemon

                    Thank you. This method should work well for me.

            2. I agree with your butcher on this. While a top round will never be as tender as a standing rib roast, it's a much more affordable cut, especially if you are feeding a crowd.

              I use it often for roast beef. I like to use a paring knife to insert whole peeled cloves of garlic at least several hours before roasting, which gives it extra flavor. Before roasting, take it out of the refrigerator an hour or two to allow it to come to room temperature. Right before it goes in the oven I sprinkle it with kosher salt, pepper, and finely chopped fresh rosemary. I cook it in a convection oven at 325 until it reaches 115 degrees. (I like it rare, and the temperature continues to rise after it's out of the oven and resting on a cutting board.)

              I usually cook smaller roasts, say about 2 pounds, and that takes less than an hour. A larger one would take longer, of course, as would cooking it in a regular oven.

              There are always some drippings left in the pan, but not a lot. My husband likes gravy with his meat, so I usually deglaze the pan with a combination of red wine and beef stock, adding any juices the meat has thrown off while resting. (make sure the cutting board has a groove to collect them.) Off-heat, I swirl in some butter. Sometimes the sauce needs to be strained before serving.

              Be sure to slice the meat very thinly.

              Most of all, don't be put off by the naysayers. And let us know how it turned out.

              4 Replies
              1. re: bitchincook

                Thanks bc, just exactly what I was looking for! You're a great help and I will let everyome know how the party for 10 goes.

                1. re: HBGigi

                  If you use bitchincook's method, don't be surprised when you get a gray ring of exterior meat. You'll get even pinkness throughout if you use the Serious Eats or CI method.

                  1. re: greygarious

                    I have used the CI method a million times with good results. An eye of round roast is never going to be as tender as some other cuts, but I, for one, am willing to actually chew my meat in exchange for an affordable and very tasty roast beef. Sharpen that knife and slice it as thin as you can, it will be fine...I usually sear mine lightly beforehand just for that nice 'caramelized' exterior, then I let it cool off again for 20 minutes or so before I put it into the oven. As bitchincook says, you won't have a TON of drippings, but you will have some. If you need to trim your roast at all beforehand, you can render some fat off those trimmings for gravy...DO let us know what you think.

                    1. re: greygarious

                      Nope. Maybe that's because I have a convection oven.

                2. Oh Man !!!
                  I WISH I had seen this post earlier !!!
                  I recently bought Molly Stevens cookbook
                  All About Roasting
                  and made the Slow Roasted Top Round
                  with the Horseradish Cream Sauce....

                  OMG OMG OMG !!!!
                  That made a roast so very heavenly !!!!
                  Amazing for a cheaper cut of meat.
                  The Horseradish cream sauce was divine, too.

                  Several things that are totally important :
                  your KNIFE !!!!
                  The thinner the slices, the better.

                  The use of thermometer ....
                  That meat CANNOT be over cooked, you will ruin it !!!!

                  The SLOW OVEN
                  250 (225 if convection, according to recipe)

                  I am looking forward to using more of the recipes in her book.
                  This one was a roaring success.....

                  Edited to add: Looks like the technique is similar to Cook's Illustrated.
                  Anyway, can't go wrong there :-)

                  1. Success! I ended up using a modified version of the CI recipe and it was wonderful, a perfect medium-rare throughout without that horrible grey ring, and everyone loved it. Even heard several comments that they liked it better than standing rib. The only changes I made from the CI recipe was I made slits in the roast and inserted garlic slivers and also didn't turn the oven off but just roasted it until it reached 120ยบ on my instant read thermometer. Thanks all for your help in making my birthday celebration dinner a huge success.

                    2 Replies
                    1. re: HBGigi

                      Ysy, so glad to hear it was such a resounding success! And a belated Happy Birthday!

                      1. re: GretchenS

                        Thanks so much for reporting back. I really cannot imagine making a roast that cost 80 bucks for anything other than a very special occasion, but I just love that the CI recipe allows me to make a twenty dollar roast that gives us 2-3 (wonderful) meals and a bunch of sliced roast beef for sandwiches...try using some of the leftovers in a roast beef hash (don't forget the poached egg on top!)

                    2. I'm a bit surprised at the comments that top round is a poor choice for roasting (or, rather, that it is a poor substitute for a standing rib.) No, top round is not as fatty and flavorful as a rib roast, but it still has a decent amount of beefy flavor, and is, in my opinion, far better than eye-of-round (my least favorite beef cut.). Of course, a top sirloin roast would be a much better economical substitute in terms of beefy flavor, but top round is fine. Top round is the cut of choice for Buffalo's famous beef-on-weck sandwiches (among the absolute best roast beef sandwiches I've ever had), as well as Chicago's Italian beefs, and Philadelphia's cheesesteaks (although rib eye is also used on the last one, and it's griddled, not roasted, so perhaps not apples-to-apples there.) I buy top round all the time, and it's one of my favorite cuts, as it works well for roasting, stir frying, as thinly cut sandwich steak, etc.

                      Anyhow, my method is simple: tie it up, salt & pepper it (or add whatever seasonings you like. Montreal steak seasoning works well), let it rest a day in the fridge (or not--you don't have to). Then, start it in a cold oven set to 200F (or even 175, if your oven allows it) on a roasting rack. Insert a meat thermometer, and remove the roast when it reaches 120-125. My ballpark estimate is that this takes about an hour per pound, but use the thermometer! Yesterday's roast top round took 4 hours for a 3 1/2 pound roast at 200F. Then let rest for 20 minutes, and sear the outside on a cast iron pan (or take the oven up to 550F and put the roast back in for about 6 minutes, after letting it rest.)

                      Perfect roast beef. Just be sure to cut it against the grain.

                      13 Replies
                      1. re: pulykamell

                        I'm not surprised at all.

                        As a butcher I find the round primal to be most difficult to explain to a retail customer. People like it for its lower cost cuts, but don't understand that even though the finished cuts are lean they require a very different approach than the lean cuts on the loin and sirloin.

                        Mix in the very popular banter @ the Cooks Illustrated article and techniques for the eye of round (which is different than the top or the bottom round) and it is very confusing for the average shopper/ cook.

                        1. re: pulykamell

                          No way!!! You're kidding right? Because if you are not, well then you do not know meat my friend.

                          Top and bottom round are used for ground beef. These are some of the toughest cuts. Skeletal muscle has no fat. FAT is what you want for a tender and flavorful steak or roast. You must be feeding a dog or cat if you use "round" to make roasts. Unless you love dry, tough, leather soles.

                          My wife just got bamboozeled by a local uneducated OR lying sneaky butcher and wasted $25. I will take care of him later. He gave her a top round for a roast and our company could not even eat the meal at Easter dinner. It was cooked early medium rare with a pink middle and yet tough as nails and dry as chalk. Now I have to add lard to it and slow cook for 10 hours to make it consumable for human consumption and not garbage refuse.

                          People like fatty beef. This lean BS is for Fiddo!

                          1. re: HUNGRYMAN8

                            It is possible to cook a tasty and satisfying top round. It requires proper salting, scrupulous attention to temperature, and turning multiple times.

                            You are soooo correct about fat content. Beef should result in a luxurious dish full of big flavor.

                            1. re: Brandon Nelson

                              Well, it's too late to start over..... So I am taking the rest of this leather football and making pot roast. I will simmer this disaster for about 2 or 3 hours with the gravy, veggies, potato and a spoonful of pork fat (LARD to restore the flavor). Never again will my wife buy any meat void of fat and expect a tender sumptuous tasty meal. Fat is good and is naturally around meat because God loves us. Meat and potatoes - the meal that built America!

                                  1. re: Brandon Nelson

                                    UPDATE!!! Well folks, guess what????

                                    The pot roast was another disaster. Slow cooked for 4 hours and STILL the meat is tough and dry. Even with the added lard. Seems the meat was meant for ground beef only. Was sold as a roast. I bet it was the hind leg muscle - just one fibrous netting of skeletal muscle tough as elephant hide. The football became just smaller clumps of one large clump.

                                    Now for the good news! Instead of throwing it at the butcher who sold it to my wife, I decided one last ditch effort to make it consumable for humans. I took out my miniature food processor and put the stringy clumps into it. Along with some mayonnaise and in one batch BBQ sauce/mayo. I made three containers of the best roast beef spread ever! Ever have Underwood spreads? Well this was an all natural substitute of better quality. At least I knew what is in it.
                                    It turned out delicious. Now I can make beef pate' sandwiches all week long! MMMMM!
                                    "Sammich" heaven!!!!

                                    1. re: HUNGRYMAN8

                                      IMO braising is just about the worst thing you can do with the rounds. Best use is to slow roast and slice thin - like deli roast beef actually. Round is one of the best roast beef cuts on the cow to eat cold because of the lack of fat.

                                      The only other way I like round is sliced thin and seared well. It's going to be fully cooked but still tasty. (Think carne asada, bulgogi or cheese steak)

                                      Either way it's gotta be thin sliced because of its toughness.

                                      1. re: joonjoon

                                        I guess that would work. But I think the only way to cook this meat is to smoke it for 18 hrs. like a brisket. Smoking meat came to be, because of tough cuts of beef. It was the Southerners who were smart enough to figure this out.

                                        1. re: HUNGRYMAN8

                                          When I worked at a deli, all our roast beef was made from raw top round. Like everyone else, we bought it trimmed and tied (meaning very little fat), and despite cooking it in the bread oven of our bakery area, it was delicious. Then again I don't go crazy for fatty beef myself, tender is my main criteria.

                                          Top round is still my favorite choice for roast beef. The trick is to start it hot (450) to sear the outside (as noted already, lots of herbs and salt as an outer crust), then maybe 15 minutes a lb? I like it crispy on the outside but with blood still flowing a bit.

                                          This is not a tough cut of meat, just a lean one.

                                          1. re: coll

                                            Even flank and skirt can be made tender with proper cooking. But whatever I had was incredibly void of any fat. I mean it had to be like 98% - 2% fat (if that). Not sure what part of the animal it was, or what animal either. Never will go to Waldbaums again.

                                            1. re: HUNGRYMAN8

                                              Was it a tiny one, like 2 or 3 lbs? Probably, if it was from Waldbaums. You have to cook that size an hour or less to get it right. If indeed you want to attempt it again!

                                              Oh and as mentioned above, sliced thin like deli meat would be optimal. Can't cut it too thin. Cutting it up like prime rib is not an option!

                                              1. re: coll

                                                Yes, it was 3 lbs. We cooked it to the proper temperature in the middle. And actually removed it 10 degrees earlier than it was supposed to be. But still it was kevlar to the mouth.

                                                Never again. If it can't be cut with a plastic fork? Then I do not want it - period.

                          2. Wow, I am so glad that this thread is still active. I was in a very similar situation as the OP today, and I read through all the replies. Pretty cool subject, actually. With all of the technology that pervades our lives, here we are discussing how to roast a piece of meat for our families. A conversation that has been going on for many thousands of years among people who simply seek to kick things up a notch, even with very basic things. We are all in good company!

                            OK, so first off, why round? In my case, this is what my kids like. They are teenagers and freak out at any sign of fat. Yet they love coming home to a "roast beef dinner". My own Mom was not much of a cook. One of her specialties was eye round roast, boxed au gratin potatoes and canned corn. The four of us devoured it. She always bought the meat at a local store with a decent in house meat counter. Thinking back on it, I think the key was that it was a fairly evenly cut, narrow piece of meat. Not much bulkier than a tenderloin roast. And she always cooked it R-MR. It was a brilliant, "Mad Men" era style meal. And I am kind of craving it now. Especially those potatoes!

                            But the local place has changed hands, and the new owner refuses to continue the tradition of keeping one or two of these in his meat case. Ugh.

                            So now I drive an extra 15 minutes to a real butcher shop. They keep long tied up "round" roasts in the case and cut them off to how many pounds you want.

                            Today I bought one that was a bit more than four pounds. I wanted to try the low and slow thing. So I seasoned, let it rest on the counter for about 1.5 hours and put it in a 250 oven. I am totally a convert to the low and slow roasting method. It looked fine with no high heat on either end.

                            According to my thermometer, it was 125 at just over two hours. I let it set for a good 30+ minutes before carving.

                            I sliced thin and served it with mashed potatoes and grilled corn on the cob. For $28. I was feeding 5 people, and there was probably 1/3 of everything left over.

                            My biggest issue was that, because the meat was pretty thick, it got hard to slice thinly near the end. Even with good knives. That never happened with Mom's.

                            So I am thinking that on Sunday I will slice and/or dice up the leftover piece and fry some kind of hash type thing with onions and peppers and the leftover potato.

                            It is not a rib roast. It is not a tenderloin. But it is a great family meal if your kids like beef!

                            4 Replies
                            1. re: nsgirl

                              I love your story nsgirl! I made a round roast last night myself and it came out great. For 1.88 a lb, you really can't beat it. With skyrocketing beef prices I find myself going to round more and more often.

                              Next time you're roasting one up, try the following: salt overnight, and cook it even lower - 200 or less. It's awesome that way.

                              1. re: nsgirl

                                I'm glad you like Beef. But respectfully you need to desensitize your kids from being afraid of fat. Fat is healthy. Natural animal fat is necessary to maintain elasticity in arteries and is a key component in nerve and cell repair.
                                The lies about animal fat for the last 30 years are just that. They are unfounded and in direct conflict with nature itself. The WWII generation are among the healthiest people, and they ate lard as a staple. You should be more afraid of man made chemicals like shortening and vegetable oils that are produced by unnatural reactions. The human body can only recognize natural foods and deals with them accordingly.

                                1. re: nsgirl

                                  Hey, thanks so much for the replies!

                                  Joonjoon, that is a great tip abput the salt and lower temp. I will give it a try this week.

                                  Oh HUNGRYMAN8, you are absolutely preaching to the converted! I completely agree with you about the benefits of natural animal fat vs. scary processed oils, and processed foods etc. But I am not having much luck bringing my kids around. Especially my daughter. So frustrating. Just trying to be patient. She will not eat my way, and I will not cook her way. Total stand off. The roast beef is one of the few things we can agree on!

                                  1. re: nsgirl

                                    Hi nsgirl.

                                    Glad you agree. You can harp on the word "natural" to your children. That may help. Like I said, lard IE animal fat is perfectly healthy when consumed in moderation with protein, starch, vegetables, fruits, etc.
                                    About thirty years ago some scientists theorized a link from animal fat to heart disease. It was only a theory and never proven. A great book for your children to read is by Jennifer McLagan. She clears up the confusion very well. Link is below:
                                    Again, something natural is always better than man-made. Common sense. God put all our food on the earth ready for consumption. Cook and enjoy.


                                2. I am LOVING this thread, if only for the peek into you guys' kitchens as you plod along, like me, making dinner every night, trying to save some money and make people happy. It is true that salting/seasoning and then keeping the roast in the fridge overnight will really bump up the flavor. I buy a lot of my meat at a commercial-supply type place, so I also spend a few minutes with my sharpest knife trimming off any silverskin or connective tissue on the outside. Usually those bits go right into the roasting pan where they provide a little more fat/juice (sometimes I actually prop my eye of round on top of the trimmed bits if there are lots of them), and they make the dog happy, too, while the rest of us dine on the main attraction, he gets the gnarly bits.