Roast Beef

I slightly disagree with one point.

Actually, you can cook a roast that’s under four pounds quite successfully–you just can’t start it in the oven. For a two pound, roughly five inch in diameter roast, sear the meat in a skillet, then transfer to a 375 degree oven for about half an hour or until the roast reaches an internal temperature of about 120 degrees (not including carryover heat), then remove from the oven, cover with foil, and let rest another half hour.

Roast beef by silverman68, on Flickr (CC License)

The result should be a nice rare roast beef. (Carryover heat is when the internal temperature of the roast continues to raise even though it’s been removed from the oven because the flesh surrounding the center is still hot.)

The U.S.D.A. would warn you that eating rare or under-cooked meat presents certain risks, so if you prefer medium rare, then cook for 40 minutes, or to an internal temperature of 130 degrees (not including carryover heat).

If for some reason you feel compelled to cook this poor roast all the way to medium, I suppose you could, I guess, cook for 50 minutes, or to an internal temperature of 140 degrees (not including carryover heat).

If you prefer a roast that’s more well done than that, I suggest you eat something else entirely. Roast beef is not for you. Cooking roast beef past medium-rare is like ordering a salad with half a pound of cheese on it: it’s clear you don’t sincerely want to participate in the dish you’ve requested. If this is something you feel compelled to do, you don’t need a meal, you need to go to therapy and figure out why you have so much anger for cows that you’d kill one for no good reason whatsoever.

The very first recipe in the very first published American cookbook was for roast beef. Here’s what Amelia Simmons suggested in 1798’s American Cookery:


To Roast Beef.

The general rules are, to have a brisk hot fire, to hang down rather than to spit, to baste with salt and water, and one quarter of an hour to every pound of beef, though tender beef will require less, while old tough beef will require more roasting; pricking with a fork will determine you whether done or not; rare done is the healthiest and the taste of this age.

As for “to hang down rather than to spit,” I’m guessing Simmons is talking about using an early reflector oven (or a late iron dutch oven styled in what would become the reflector oven style). These were metal enclosures with one side open to the hearth, concentrating the heat on the meat within. Meat could be placed on a spit and rotated in the box, or, in the alternative, could be suspended from a hook in the top.

From the box of C.N. sold in De Soto, Kansas.

Roast Beef

  1. Wipe the roast with a damp cloth.
  2. Place in a roasting pan in a very hot oven.
  3. Roast 10 minutes or until the roast is seared.
  4. Dredge the roast with salt and pepper and a little flour.
  5. Reduce the heat and continue roasting.
  6. Baste often.
  7. When the meat is about half done turn over and season and dredge other side with flour and continue baking.
  8. A little water may be added which may be used for roasting [maybe intended basting?] the meat.
  9. A large roast is always more juicy than a small one; four or five pounds is a[s?] small roast should be used to obtain good results.

Catherine Nichepor

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