Roast beef is a family favourite, and one of the simplest and tastiest ways to prepare beef. All it requires is picking the right cut, seasoning it and letting the oven do all the hard work. While the simplicity of this classic Sunday night dinner makes it reasonably foolproof, there are a few tips that will help you put the perfect roast on the table.
Choosing your cut
When it comes to choosing a cut for roast beef, the good news is this dish is very versatile. Aim for a marbled piece of beef with a nice outer layer of fat. There’ll be plenty of good options at your local supermarket or butcher – and remember you can always ask your local butcher for a recommendation if you’re not sure.
The most popular cuts for a roast are:
- Prime Rib Roast
- Rump Roast
- Whole Sirloin or Striploin
- Bolar Blade Roast
- Eye Fillet Butt
- Rump Cap
Prime Rib Roast
Roasted whole on the rack, prime rib is a popular choice when it comes to Sunday roast. It is well marbled and full of flavour and tenderness.
While many beef roasts do not need to be trussed or netted, this cut will benefit from it. Tying the meat using individual pieces of string in 4-5 cm intervals will create a compact shape allowing even cooking and slicing. You can also tuck herbs into the string for added flavour – try rosemary or thyme.
Ensure the silverskin has been removed before cooking, otherwise this thin membrane will shrink during cooking and the meat will curl up.
Rump is often bought as a steak, but when left whole it can be roasted. It is a boneless piece of beef from the well-exercised hindquarter of the animal, contains high amounts of collagen and connective tissue, and generally doesn’t have a lot of marbling. This means when cooked incorrectly it can be tough and chewy.
Slow roasting a piece of rump is one of the best ways to turn this cut into a flavorful, juicy and tender piece of meat
While roasts usually steer towards tender cuts of beef, if cooked on a low heat over a longer period of time the collagen and connective tissue of the rump cut will melt, increasing the tenderness.
Other key elements to the perfect rump roast is browning the meat in a frying pan before placing in the oven fat side up, and when serving keep the slices thin.
A topside roast is extremely lean and has a lot of connective tissue as it comes from the inner thigh muscles of the hind leg. This cut is best roasted as a whole joint and is usually on the cheaper side of your roast choices. It can have a slightly tougher texture but it is still flavour-packed.
You may like to season this cut and sear it in a hot pan before cooking for a delicious and crisp exterior coating.
Whole Sirloin or Striploin
Sirloin is from the large part of the T-bone area. It is full of taste and flavour, and is a great choice for a roast.
While this is on the medium to higher end of roast pricing options, it is a great choice to give you a tender piece of meat while being friendly to your wallet.
When selecting your sirloin, look for a top cut as this will be the most tender, and make sure you brown the meat before placing in the oven.
Bolar Blade Roast
Beef bolar blade is an excellent choice for the family dinner. It’s also a more affordable option per kilo than some of the other roast options. Taken from the shoulder blade of the animal, the cut contains a fair amount of connective tissue and sinew, so it does need a long time for this to break down. But if prepared well, you’re left with a full flavoured and tender cut of beef.
Eye Fillet Butt
Taken from the butt fillet, this is a cut that delivers on both rich flavour and tenderness. At the pricier end of the scale, it is a more decadent roast option but its beautiful intense flavour will not disappoint.
A favourite of many meat aficionados, rump cap is an excellent, and underused, cut for roasting. Also known as picanha, this cut is the top piece of the beef rump and doesn’t take too long to cook, so make sure you have a meat thermometer handy to ensure you don’t overcook it.
Roast Beef Cooking Tips:
- For a tender texture and even cooking, leave the beef out of the fridge to reach room temperature before cooking in the oven.
- Cooking the roast lifted out of the pan on a roasting rack improves air flow and will result in more even browning.
- Place the beef fat side up.
- If netted or tied, leave this on until after the meat has been cooked and rested. This will help the meat keep its shape and look more impressive when you carve.
- Use a meat thermometer to ensure the roast is cooked to perfection. Make sure you insert the probe into the centre of the cut and avoid hitting the bone for the most accurate reading.
- Before serving, remove the roast from the pan and rest the beef for 15 to 20 minutes loosely wrapped in aluminium foil. This will allow the juices to redistribute and lets the meat fibres, which contract during the cook, relax for ultimate tenderness.
- Always carve against the grain to break down and shorten the muscle fibres for a tender dish.