I am not good with roasting --beef ...or pork now that I really think of it. We bought 130lbs of beef from a local farmer and it's butchered and in my freezer. I usually brown a roast and put it into the crockpot w mirepoix and garlic. The results are meh....I want to make a killer roast of beef...top round, eye round, chuck, whatever. Should I be picking fattier cuts for long roasting? Not sure where I'm going wrong...always end up w stringy shredded meat that's only somewhat tender....

  • Posted by: Laura_K
  • February 9, 2011


Laura_K February 10, 2011
Wow, my goodness, I really appreciate the suggestions! @mainecook61-you're right up my alley w suggesting Julias Boeuf Bourgignon....I intend to add MTAOFC to my library soon, and that will be on my top 5 list of things to make immediately. The night after we received the beef, we had sirloins and they were amazing...taste, texture (so soft), everything. Once I get a better handle on what I can cook well, I will advise butchering accordingly. Buying meat this way is new for us, which is obvious. @ Amanda, thank you for your time, and I am seasoning w kosher salt and cracked black pepper, browning on all sides...not adding liquid to crock pot....I'm already seeing that I'm applying the wrong cook method to the cuts I'm using...Maybe lose the crock pot? haha! @betteirene, I am looking for both--dark and crusty and pink in the middle, and on another night, cooked through and falling apart. I think researching the links above and following some guidelines should help. Deciding when to braise and when to roast seems to be my dilemma. @ChefDaddy, if I find myself in a similar predicament--stringy meat, not quite tender--I'm going to let it go longer next time! @nutcakes, thank you for your attention, links and recommendations. --I'm always in search of a perfect medium rare. @innoabrd thank you, and great that you shared a link for something I can use for both beef and pork! @ mrslarkin--first, your sugar cookies rolled in the turbinado ROCK, and scored me major points -- I just received king arthur wholemeal flour and will be making irish lace soon! 130lbs of meat isn't as much as you'd think--fills almost half of a standard chest--I do own a meat thermometer, thankfully.Thanks for the link! If baking were my only passion, I wouldn't be as troubled! haha! @Sam1148, I do have a Jaccard, I had no idea you could use on roasts. The more I read, the more I'm resenting my crockpot, haha! Thanks to all of you!
Sam1148 February 10, 2011
I rarely use a crockpot as I find it makes rather bland tasting dishes, as you've discovered.

Invest in a Jaccard blade meat tenderizer for tough cuts like chuck roast. It's a device with rows of little blades. Which break up the tough bits and allow the marinade to work it's magic and flavor.

mainecook61 February 10, 2011
We have been raising and selling grass fed beef for years, and I must say that working with a side of beef can be a challenge at first. Experience will teach you what cuts work best in which ways, if that is any comfort. I've learned to avoid (that is, to turn into hamburger) the bottom and eye round; the top round I use for stir fries. Chuck roasts make the best pot roasts and stew. (On the other hand, I avoid chuck steaks for grilling--too tough!) It's also important to remember that you can't get perfect non-fatty hamburger (one of the glories of grass fed beef in my opinion) and steakhouse type steaks from the same animal. Working with beef like this has made me a more resourceful cook, for sure. Keep in mind also that the farmer who sold you the beef almost surely did not butcher and cut it and that the options for butchering tend to be few and far between these days. Thus, you have to be pretty specific (in the future) with indicating to the cutter what you want and don't want, even how long you want the beef to hang for; otherwise, they just do it their way. I can't think of a better way to get started on a challenging cut than Julia Child's recipe for boeuf bourguignon (it's not at all difficult). Recipes like that come from days when cattle did not go to monster feedlots and cooks expected to have to braise long hours to get tenderness. If you use more contemporary recipes, you have to use your judgment about when something is tender, as the recipe-writer may have worked with softer or fattier supermarket beef. Good luck! I would never go back (after more than 30 years) to supermarket beef!
mrslarkin February 10, 2011
Holy cow! (he he) Your freezer must be ginormous! What farmer? I haven't tried any local beef yet. Great tips here.

I don't cook a lot of beef, but here are some of the tips I employ when roasting, in general:

One of my most useful tools when roasting any large piece of meat is the probe-type meat thermometer with the wire thingy that hangs out of the oven door and the counter-top digital display. One advantage of this over a traditional hand-held meat thermometer is that you don't have to keep opening the oven door to check the temp, thereby retaining the internal heat of the oven.

And get yourself an oven thermometer, just to make sure your oven is cooking at the right temp.

Also check out Amanda's recent NYT article on rib roast - my favorite hunk o meat. http://www.nytimes.com/2011/01/30/magazine/30Food-t-000.html?ref=magazine

Good luck!
innoabrd February 10, 2011
There was an earlier thread on roasting meat. If you've got a good roasting cut, and I'd suggest a nice three-rib rib roast, just salt and pepper it and stick it in the oven at no more than 140 F for many hours. Seriously, stick it in the oven in the morning and 8-10 hours later you'll have a thing of beauty.

For a nice braise, try letting the meat cool in the braising liquid (which should not actually cover the meat, just come up, say, half-way) and refrigerate it overnight, then slice and re-heat the next day in the liquid. Overnight, the meat will re-absorb some of that cooking liquid, really helping the flavour and texture.

Also, try this recipe sometime. I've been doing with beef and pork and it's really fantastic. A real crowd pleaser...

nutcakes February 10, 2011
These are really different cuts of meat and require different treatment. Some are just tough cuts and never going to be all that great. I never cook anything in a crockpot unless I bought a short dated piece that is fatty, like pork shoulder or similar cut of beef and just don't want to think about it, just dump tomatillo sauce or BBQ sauce over it and cook it overnight. Or similarly if I am going to be out of the house.

For Eye of Round, a fairly tough cut. If you use the Cooks Illustrated method of cooking at a very low temperature you can avoid overcooking. and getting the dreaded grey ring around the outside. If you can cook it perfect medium rare it will be nice. You will still have to slice it very thin. Here is a previous conversation about it, use Search box to find mre:

Top round: another lean tough cut. I have done it in an overnight marinade, then grilled it. Still need to cut thin against the grain.

Chuck: tender cut, braise it long, low and slow. Pot roast or cut and make stew. Great for Belgian beer and onion stew, so delicious.

I reccomend a book like The Complete Meat, which has good tips and techniques for modern beef and pork, but they don't use all cuts. I also think it's important to have an instant read thermometer to get the cuts done to the right temperature--it's critical.
ChefDaddy February 10, 2011
When I hear that someone ended up with "stringy shredded meat that's only somewhat tender" I assume that your talking about braising and all that comes to mind is that you need to let it cook another half hour to an hour more. Or simply put you got 3/4 of the way to a finished braise. As for the cuts for a good briased
" pot roast" the ones you listed should be fine. Just keep in mind that not all cuts take the same amount of time and the size of the "roast" has to be taken into consideration as well.
betteirene February 10, 2011
Isn't Amanda a nosy little thing? She's right to try to pinpoint where your problem lies.

Now it's my turn to be nosy. What do you see when you say, "killer roast of beef?" Is it a Norman Rockwell Sunday roast on a platter, all dark and crusty on the outside and red and pink in the middle, next to a mound of mashed potatoes dripping with very brown gravy? Or is it a pot roast in a Le Creuset, cooked all the way through until it's meltingly tender, with whole potatoes and carrots cooked alongside?

I think cooking meat correctly ranks right up there on the difficulty scale with divinity and pizza dough. Knowing your cuts of meat and where they come from is the best way to select an appropriate cooking method. Here's a start:
Ignore their judgment calls: they know their meat cuts, but I think there's something wrong with their taste buds.
Amanda H. February 9, 2011
Fattier meats are better for long roasting and/or braising. Are you seasoning and browning the meat enough? These are easy mistakes to fix. Also sounds like you should braise, not roast. Do you cover the meat in liquid? And what temperature is your oven? Let me know and I'll try to help.
Recommended by Food52