Help me cook the perfect roast

I am not a bad cook but I am very bad with meat.
Every roast I cook comes out dry and tough.
My girlfriends mother cooks the best roast. I suppose I could ask her but she is deaf.
Here’s what I know.

  1. choose a well marbled meat.
  2. bring the meat to room temp
  3. season with salt and pepper
  4. brown each side of the roast to keep the juices in.

What next? I think its the cooking part that I suck at.

Get a meat thermometer. Roast at 375 degrees. Cooking time will vary by the weight of the roast, but internal temp determines when it is done. Pull it out at 130 degrees, cover in foil and let it rest for 15-20 minutes before carving.

Browning does not keep the juices in, but it does develop the flavor.

What’s the guideline for the number of minutes per pound?

I start with a very hot oven - 500F. Preheat the oven for about 30 minutes, to get the whole oven hot, not just the air inside it.

I put in the roast, braised with lots of butter, and drop the temp to 325F.

I cook it for 20 minutes per pound, and let it sit on the carving board for 20-30 minutes while cooking the gravy and yorkshire pudding.

It’s a perfect medium rare each time.

Do you baste it periodically?

I have a cast iron dutch oven I use to brown the meat, then I put the lid on and just leave it in the oven undisturbed for an hour, hour and a half. We like ours more towards well done. I think having the lid on keeps the moisture in. There’s usually carrots, celery and onions in there as well, but no liquids added.

I can’t speak to the cooking time per pound because I almost never look at the weights, but I usually cook it around 375 - 400.

A meat thermometer is a great idea. Mine’s gone missing, I need to replace it.

I don’t baste roast beef. I pierce it and slide some slivers of garlic into the meat. Sometimes if it is lean I lay some bacon on it. However, if there is a fatty side to the meat, cooking it fat side up is usually enough.

Are you choosing the right cut of meat? You can’t dry roast chuck roast (it’s perfect for pot roast). Round is borderline. Sirloin Tri-tip is usually the least expensive cut that can be cooked as a dry roast.

You haven’t specified what kind of beef roast you’re trying to cook. It makes a BIG difference.

Don’t use salt it dries meat out. Sounds like you are cooking it way to long.

Depending on what cut of meat you are using, there are several ways to cook it without drying it out. You could stick it in a crockpot (preferably after browning) with a bit of broth or water (toss your veggies in too!) then let it cook all day, or you could toss it into a pressure cooker (after browning) with some veggies and a bit of liquid and pressurize it for 30-45 minutes (depending on size). That’s what I do when I forget that I was going to cook a roast. Or you can put it in the oven, covered with aluminum foil or a lid at 350 for approx 20 mins. per pound (or internal temp of 160 or so, longer if you like it more well done) then let it rest before carving. If that doesn’t work well for you, you could do it at 325 for an hour per pound.

As a very general rule, the tougher (and cheaper) the cut of meat, the longer the cooking time (at a lower temp) to get it nice and tender without being dry. If I have a particularly bad hunk of cow, I will wrap it tightly in aluminum and stick it in the oven at 250-300 for several hours.

I like pot roast best - I cook it almost every week, so I’ve had a lot of trial and error to get it the way I like it.

I pick a big, ugly super fatty piece of meat. Well marbled is how I like my steak, little strips of wispy white all the way through. My pot roast has big chunky white blobs all over it. Like 10% fat or more.

Big pot with a lid

Add 1-2 pounds of baby carrots
Add 2-3 pounds of peeled and quartered potatoes, I like yellow ones
Add one onion, chopped

Pot roast goes on top. Salt and pepper the top, add minced garlic if desired (I use jarred, super easy). Lid or tin foil over that.

Cook at least 3 hours. 4 hours is better at 350. I turn the oven off halfway through to save energy.

The meat falls apart, the 'tatos are basted in beef fat and are delicious!
Since I use pre-peeled carrots, I only have to prep the potatoes and onion. I omit browning the meat since it didn’t change the flavor in the end.

If there isn’t a fatty cut of meat to roast, I’ll make it with something leaner and add a substantial quantity of butter to make up for it.
Now if you want something that’s cooked to a particular temperature and slices pretty, follow the advice above about browning and using a thermometer and such. But if you want the best pot roast and veggies to die for, my recipe rocks.

Usually, I use a roaster, covered with about a half inch of water. I don’t baste, but I make sure that the roaster never runs dry. The liquid will be the base of your gravy, along with all those juices that flavour it. Temp-wise, I usually go with 350 degrees, anywhere between three to four hours for a three to four pound roast, but sometimes it’s longer, sometimes shorter, depending on the meat itself and the fat content. During the last hour, I check every five to ten minutes on it so see if it’s done earlier.

You can spice it up before you put it in the pan – use whatever strikes your fancy. Onion soup mix is good, or just a mixture of spices, or garlic, with some sliced onion added late in the cooking stage. I also use pepper and salt (but not too much of the latter). If you want to put potatoes and carrots in, the last 40 minutes or so is when you want to put them in.

Resting the roast after cooking is a good idea; just put it on the platter and cover it with some foil for five to ten minutes.

When making gravy, you will need flour and water; how much depends on how much liquid you have to work with. Put the roaster on a cold burner. Always add the flour to the liquid – if it is too thick, you can always add more water. Use a whisk and stir around the pan making sure to break up any lumps. If you like it really beefy, add some beef boullion, and pepper, and then turn on the heat to medium while stirring. When it starts to bubble a little bit, gauge whether you need to add water, because the heat will cause it to thicken even more. Add the water sparingly. Gravy should be thick and not watery, so add the water sparingly.

I use Apricot’s recipe, except that I DO brown the meat, because I think it makes a difference in the flavor, and I add a little red wine in with the roast. I used to not brown the roast, but it seems to make enough of a difference that I’ll take a few minutes to do it.

Also, turnip chunks are very good in roasts. My maternal grandfather hated turnips, so my mother never ate them and never learned to cook with them, and so I never learned to use them. I saw a stew recipe that called for a smallish turnip, though, and thought I’d take a chance. I found out that I like them, and so do my husband and daughter.

No - I do put it in fatty side up, and put several pats of butter on it.

After I put it in the oven, I don’t even open the door until the timer goes off.

That initial high heat keeps the juices in the meat.

That’s a myth. The initial high heat is for browning and flavor (as Fear Itself mentioned.) It does not keep any juices in. But it is a good thing to do. My preference, after doing it this way for a long time (high heat, then low heat) is to do it the other way around: start low, and finish with the hot blast. I first learned the technique from Cook’s Illustrated for steak and it works well for roast, too. Apparently, Alton Brown likes that method, too. His Good Eats episode on roast (Part 1, Part 2.) is a good place to start for the basics of roasts. I roast at 250-275 until a thermometer reaches about 120. (Alton does 200 in the episode, which is just takes too damned long for me.) Then I take my oven up to the highest setting (550) until I get the crust where I want it to be.

edit: Oh, yeah, and let reast 15 minutes or so before serving.

This is fool proof for standing rib or prime rib roast. This a cut of meat so expensive you hate to screw it up. Our family has been using this method for nearly 20 years and it works, every time, regardless of size.

Pre-heat oven to 375
Rub the roast with salt (1tsp), pepper(1/2 tsp) and a clove of garlic cut in half. Set on roasting rack fat side up in a large pan. Put it in the over for 1 hour.

When the hour is up turn the oven off. Let it sit in the oven - don’t open the door!

1 hour before your ready to eat turn the oven back on to 325 for 45 minutes
Take the roast out and let rest for 15 minutes.

Carve and serve. The end cuts will be medium well but the center will be a nice medium rare. Plenty of drippings and juice for gravy.

It doesn’t matter how long the roast sits (with in reason of course). If we’re eating at 4:30 We’ll start this at 11:00 just to get it in the oven and out of the way. Then we can sit and talk for a bit before getting to work on the mashed potatoes, Yorkshire pudding and asparagus with balsamic vinegar glaze.

Alton Brown and many other cooking shows have proven this to be false.

Salting meat before cooking does not dry out the meat, unless you’re burying it salt and trying to mummify it.

The guideline for minutes per pound is “if you’re measuring this way, you’re doomed to disappointment.”

Pot roasts, pulled pork, barbecue, crockpot, etc. you can do this way; they’re very forgiving, and in some cases actually get tenderer with excessive time.

But a real roast is too variable: meat thermometers will give you the right answer every time, and they’re cheap (get the digital kind with the long cord, where the actual readout goes outside the oven, or you’ll be wasting a lot of energy opening the door all the time.) The problem with two-phase cooking with a long delay, as Jimson Jim noted, is that you’re basically cooking the outside twice and the inside once. Much better to do the non-searing part of the cooking with a steady low temp, and then you can pick the temperature of the whole roast.

Also, realize that the FDA published numbers for things (160 for Medium Beef) are way, way too high for most cuts. That’s fine for hamburger, but a prime rib you probably want about 140 for medium.

As I mentioned earlier, even crusting a rib roast in 1/2 inch of salt is a widely used cooking method that will not dry out the meat.

It was a top sirloin roast. It was well marbled.
I think the cut may have a different name in the US.