Tue Apr 10, 2012
Looking back at my first competition and considering the financial aspect of how much I put in versus how much I got back, I'm going to have to find some ways to cut costs here and there, along with winning more, to make this a hobby I can sustain over time. My number one biggest expense that day were two beef tenderloins, whose cost were probably justified as they brought home a first place, but they also serve as starting point in exploring what could have been done instead that would require less of an investment. This led me to thinking about more budget friendly pieces of beef that can deliver on flavor and texture using a similar grill-roasting technique that was employed with the tenderloin, something like this herbed roast beef.
Ditching the absurdly overpriced tenderloin—whose cost I think is unjust considering it's relative lack of flavor—I turned to a beef eye round for this roast beef. This cut is taken from back of cow, and has a long, cylindrical shape that's similar to the tenderloin. While any cut from the hard working muscles in the round will be "tough," the eye is one of the more tender of the lot.
Without a lot of fat, there wasn't much butchering needed on this roast, so the prep consisted of liberally covering the beef with salt and pepper, followed by a coating of an herb mixture that included rosemary, thyme, and parsley. The beef was then wrapped tightly in plastic wrap and set in the fridge overnight.
While the beef was taking it's rest, I considered accompaniments—not a bad idea when opting for an inexpensive piece of meat. I settled on pairing the roast with a standard horseradish cream sauce, made with lightly whipped cream, creme fraiche, horseradish, chives, and lemon juice. I assumed this flavorful sauce would have the power to elevate the beef if it wasn't all that I hoped it would be.
The next day it was time to grill, which had to be carefully considered to make a tough piece of beef come out nice and tender. For this, I took a cue from Cook's Illustrated, where they devised a method to roast the beef in manner that keeps its internal temperature under 122 degrees F as long as possible to achieve just that. It started with searing the roast quickly over a very hot fire to develop the flavorful crust.
Then the roast was then transferred to an aluminum pan and put over indirect heat to finish cooking. The pan acts as a heat shield that lowers and regulates the heat hitting the roast, letting it cook more slowly and evenly.
As important as the cooking method, was making sure the roast didn't cook past the desired medium-rare or medium temperature. Unlike a tenderloin that can be somewhat forgiving—although you don't really want to cook it past medium-rare—the eye round will become even more tough as its internal temperature rises. So as soon as mine hit the desired 130 for a nice medium, I pulled it right away.
A final rest of 15 minutes was given to let the juices redistribute in the beef, then it was time to slice and serve. In the end I mainly got what I wanted, a tender piece of beef that was juicy and had an excellent crust. The beefiness factor was pretty down there though, not coming close to what a rib roast would offer, but that's where the rich and spicy horseradish sauce made up the difference. This roast is a fine substitute for when you need to do beef on a budget, but you also kind of get what you pay for—it would not cut it in competition at all. I guess that means I need to focus more on winning the big bucks than trying to save a few.
Herbed Roast Beef With Horseradish Cream Sauce
Adapted from Cook's Illustrated
- Prep Time:
- 30 Minutes
- Inactive Time:
- 8 Hours
- Cook Time:
- 1 Hour
- Total Time:
- 9 Hours 30 Minutes
- Serves 6-8
- For the Horseradish Cream Sauce
- 1/2 cup heavy cream
- 1/2 cup creme fraiche or sour cream
- 1/2 cup prepared horseradish
- 2 tablespoons chives
- 1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lemon juice
- Kosher salt, to taste
- Freshly ground black pepper, to taste
- 1 3-4 lb beef eye round roast
- 2 tablespoon olive oil
- 2 tablespoons freshly ground black pepper
- 2 tablespoons Kosher salt
- 1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh rosemary
- 1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh thyme
- 1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh parsley
- 1 (13 by 9-inch) disposable aluminum roasting pan
- To make the sauce: In a medium bowl, whisk heavy cream until thickened, but not yet at soft peaks. Fold in creme fraiche, horseradish, chives, lemon juice, salt, and pepper. Refrigerate for 30 to 60 minutes before using, or transfer to airtight container and refrigerate up to 2 weeks.
- To make the roast beef: Pat beef dry with paper towels. Brush all over with olive oil then season liberally with salt and pepper.
- In a small bowl, combine rosemary, thyme, and parsley. Sprinkle all sides of roast with herb mixture, using hands to pat into beef. Wrap beef tightly in plastic wrap and refrigerate overnight.
- Remove beef from refrigerator while preparing the grill. Light one chimney full of charcoal. When all the charcoal is lit and covered with gray ash, pour out and arrange the coals on one side of the charcoal grate. Set cooking grate in place, cover gill and allow to preheat for 5 minutes. Clean and oil the grilling grate. Place beef on the hot side of the grill and cook until well browned on all sides, about 10 minutes.
- Move beef to aluminum roasting pan and place on cool side of the grill, cover, and cook until an instant read thermometer inserted into the thickest part of the beef reads 125 for medium-rare or 130 for medium, about 40 to 60 minutes more. Remove from grill to carving board and let rest for 15 minutes. Carve and serve with horseradish cream sauce.