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Aug 22, 2014 06:43 PM

Top Round Roast - CI Slow Roast Method Advice

I have purchased a 8.5 pound top round roast from an extremely reputable local butcher (it was the only cut they had in the size I needed) and was planning on trying the Cook's Illustrated Slow-Roasted Beef method that I have seen referenced here many times.

I was wondering if anyone has tried this method with a roast this large. Are there any wrinkles that I should know about? I am unsure whether I will have access to the wire rack specified during roasting. Is this essential or can I just roast it in the pan?

Also, does anyone have an estimate as to how long a roast this large might take? I am trying to gauge how early I am going to need to start cooking in order to serve it for a Sunday lunch.

Any advice would be greatly appreciated, since I am a novice at this.

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  1. First, you should know that roasting beef is no different than roasting any other meat or Beef cut. It just takes a certain amount of time at a certain temperature. What's more important to consider is the size and shape of the roast, not simply the weight. To make it more understandable, if you have two roasts that weight the same...a flat 2-3 inch thick roast will reach desired target temperature sooner than a 5-8 inch larger and rounder shaped roast. If your roast is more similar to the latter, I would suggest you cut the roast in half. The benefit of doing so is you can reduce cooking time and also make the meat easier for slicing more uniform pieces for better presentation. 3-4 little slices are more attractive on a plate than one large pieces or two haphazardly cut pieces. You can also have two different temperatures with two separate roasts.

    Here are a few threads with pictures so you can see what your results would be like and to give you some references.

    If you decide to keep it whole, follow the steps for a Prime Rib Roast.

    My recommendation is to plan 5-6 hours overall. You roast the meat until it hit your target temperature. Then you reduce the oven down to 140-170* to hold the roast and let the meat continue to tenderize and redistribute the juices within for 2 hours. The meat will be sufficiently warm for serving

    I'm not really up on what CI is recommending these days, but general low temperature roasting is anywhere from 170-250*.

    6 Replies
    1. re: fourunder

      Btw...with regards to a rack, you can use any of the following to achieve the same effect.

      * use V rack if you have one for roasting your Turkey

      * Create some crumbles balls of aluminum foil to elevate.

      * Use a combination of onions, carrots and celery as a base.

      The added benefit of using the vegetables is it will contribute to a nice gravy should you desire to make one. You can also add them underneath any type of rack you use.

      1. re: fourunder

        It is pretty flat and about 3.5 inches thick. I am a bit reluctant to cut it apart since the butcher already tied it for me.

        The CI recipe calls for roasting at 225 degrees until 115 degrees for med-rare, then leaving it with the oven off and the door closed until it reaches 130. I figure to accomplish that I will need a remote thermometer to check the temp without opening the oven door and letting the heat escape.

        Is the 130 internal temp too high for med-rare?

        1. re: GCabot

          130 is not too high for Medium-Rare....however I would note the following:

          I'm pretty sure CI stands by their findings and they were the ones who inspired me to use the low and slow method to begin with many years ago...however, I have rarely experienced more than a 5-7* bump during the holding period and carryover effect at 225*. I've roasted so many meats and really don't need the temperature probe but only to check at the end from my consistent results from the past....but I certainly would recommend using one for most...and for you to ensure the meat temperature is consistent throughout.

          With regards to temperature, again, I would note that the temperature hitting target is dependent on the size and shape...and I don't know what the CI review used as an example. My best guestimate without a picture of the actual roast you are preparing would be to expect 3-3.5 hour roasting and allow for a longer rest. Others who have followed my advice for the longer two hour rest have come to find it does aid in the overall tenderness in the meat. I personally find Top Round to be a little tough and chewy when undercooked, especially if sliced at anything thicker than 1/4 inch. I also find it to be more well received and better at the higher end of the Medium-Rare Scale....125-135*. To me, 115 is Rare, and most professional kitchens would feel the same. I would a 3.5 inch thick roast to at least 125, then reduce the oven to 140....essentially, you end the cooking process when you reduce the heat....and at140*, it cannot cook over that target, as it is really only a warm setting. I've held roasts for over 3 hours with the meat still maintaining the target temps finished @ 130-135 for all the similar roasts like you are making.

          In the chuck roast thread, I roasted a 7-Blade for 5 hours and held it for was one of the top 5 roasts I have ever made, including my Holiday Standing Rib Roasts. It's far easier to get a better result by finishing your roast early and holding it, rather than not allowing enough time to hit temperature and complete the holding/carryover process. By continuing to 125+ with the heat still on ensures you will reach the 130 mark....and believe me, it's very hart to tell the differences between 130, 133 or 135, so you need not be so precise.

          1. re: fourunder

            Hey, four. Have I or anyone else asked. Isn't the meat totally room temp after that long a 'rest'? I have after smoking, wrapped in foil, then in a towel and into a cooler and maintained warmth all night but just wondering. Thanks, kiddo.

            1. re: c oliver

              I rest in the it stays warm and does not cool below 120-125. Even when I rest outside the oven, it still is warm to touch I don't even bother with foil, I simply place a large stainless steel bowl over it and cover with a large bath towel. To heat it to a more pleasant serving temperature, A
              quick 5-10 minute blast at 450 or under the broiler(monitored)for a couple of minutes on each side is all you need. No rest after is needed.

      2. Always use a probe thermometer placed top center, if you want med-rare in the middle, cook till 115-120F take out, foil tent and let rest for 20 min, perfect. This is for all cooking methods.

        1. I just wanted to thank everyone here for their help and advice. The roast was a big hit.


          1 Reply
          1. re: GCabot

            Glad your roast was a hit!

            I made a sirloin tip roast using fourunder's method/recommendations this evening. My first time roasting this cut of beef and the first time I used the low and slow method. It came out amazing!