Some time ago my niece asked me how to make roast beef. Since we rarely eat roast beef and when we do, we usually barbecue it using a Weber kettle, I could only give her general instructions gleaned from other sources such as the “Joy of Cooking” cookbook. I decided to make roast beef with gravy and post the process, so that my niece can refer to it. Here, we served the slices of roast beef with gravy and oven fried potatoes. (For her, I added Japanese text à la Hiroyuki’s blog).
In terms of equipment, you need a good quick reading meat thermometer. In the absence of the thermometer, you could estimate the cooking time by the weight of the roast but you have to use the internal temperature of the roast to most accurately judge the doneness. You also need a roasting pan with a metal grate or rack so that the meat will sit above the juices that accumulate on the bottom of the pan. This serves two purposes; the hot air circulates under the meat and cooks it evenly and the meat is not sitting in its own drippings during the cooking process which would tend to braise rather than roast the meat.
The cut of the meat I bought was a 3 lb top round (upper portion of the hind leg muscle) but it was not well cut and had a somewhat odd shape. So, this may not have been the best example of a good cut for roast beef (image below left, before trussing). It is important to truss it properly so that, it will cook evenly (Image below right).
For seasonings, I use fresh rosemary from our herb garden, garlic, salt, and freshly cracked black pepper. First, I thinly slice peeled garlic cloves (I use 4 cloves). I then make multiple deep slits in the meat and insert the garlic slices. It is important that the garlic slices are completely hidden below the surface so that the garlic will not burn during roasting. I remove the rosemary from the stems and finely chop (4 small sprigs) and mix with 2-3 tbs of olive oil and generously smear the mixture on the surface of the meat. I make a mixture of freshly cracked back pepper and kosher salt (half and half, about 2 tbs) and rub the mixture on the surface of the meat. (image below, left). Ideally, the meat should be at a room temperature before putting it in the oven. Actually my wife did the roasting part. Preheat the oven to 425 F and roast for 15 minutes. Then lower the temperature to 350F and roast for about 20minutes more/pound. So, a 3 pound roast will take about 60 minutes more. I start taking the temperature at the center of the roast after 45 minutes and for medium rare, I am looking for an internal temperature of 140F (Image below right).
This roast took a bit longer to cook than we expected (the center may still have been cold after it was taken out of the refrigerator). Transfer the roast to a plate and loosely cover it with aluminum foil to keep it warm and let it rest for 15-20 minutes before carving. Our roast was a bit more done that we wanted (Image below) but still rosy in the middle.
Now making gravy; I remove the metal grate of the roasting pan which collected some dripping in the bottom and the edges are nicely browned (below left). I place the roasting pan across two burners on the stove on medium low flame and add port wine and chicken broth (1/4 cup each) (since we did not have beef broth) and deglaze all the nice brown bits using a silicon spatula (below right).
You could add vegetables to the bottom of the roasting pan during roasting but we prefer to roast the vegetables (onion, garlic-skin on, potato,sweet potato, carrot etc) in a separate pan by just coating them with olive oil and seasoning with salt and pepper. This way, you have better control of the doneness of the meat and vegetables.