I was not *entirely* happy with today’s roast beef.

Good sear, properly medium-rare, but still a bit tough to cut. I think that it’s because I didn’t have time to get the roast up to room temperature first. Suggestions for what to do when it’s a case of going straight from the supermarket and right to the oven?

Moe Lane

PS: My players still ate it.

15 thoughts on “I was not *entirely* happy with today’s roast beef.”

  1. Clearly, I travel in the wrong circles. A Moe Lane adventure/storyline *and* roast beef?
    That said .. the challenge is what you need is to get some of the tougher tissue to break down .. a slightly higher temperature (355 instead of 350, forex) and increased moisture (stick an oven-proof pan of boiling water in the oven and let it steam off?) so less evaporates off the beef maybe?

  2. I would venture that it’s more likely the cut of beef than the starting temperature.
    But if you’re concerned about it, you can marinate it in a red wine and salt solution for a day or two at room temperature to break down connective tissue. Just turn it over every 6-8 hours. And make sure the salt isn’t iodized.

    1. I concur with this. It was most likely the cut. As for the marinade, either kosher salt or canning salt works well.

      1. Yep, I’ve a half-bottle of cheap red wine in the ‘fridge waiting for the right cut of meat …
        The trouble, from what Moe has said, is compressing 24 hours of marinade into the travel time from Harris Teeter to the oven ..
        I’m .. not sure it’s possible.

        1. It’s not.
          But being able to set it up a day or two beforehand gives you a bit of flexibility. If you can take advantage of it, you don’t have to rush.

  3. I’ve had very good luck with covering steaks with a pretty generous amount of kosher salt before grilling, but I’m not sure what would work best for a roast. Still, I’d give that a shot to draw internal moisture out.

  4. If you have a freezer. think about getting a 1/4 of beef. Half is better because you get to pretty much choose your own cuts. But coordinating around a 1/4 isn’t that hard. The meat is so much better. The upfront outlay is more, but pound per pound you all come out ahead.

      1. I raised beef cattle for a good chunk of my life.
        If you’d like an infodump, I can probably help you out.

          1. Heh. Since I’m currently stuck in a waiting room for an indefinite period of time, there’s no time like the present.
            I’m a bit light on sleep, so it may be a bit scattershot at times.
            Starting with the basics, there are three classifications of cattle.
            Beef cattle are raised to produce meat. They tend to be stocky. The iconic examples are Hereford and Angus, but there are dozens breeds. Some (like the Chianina) have trouble producing enough milk for their own calves. The people involved in the process are generically called ‘cattlemen”.
            Dairy cattle are raised for milk production. Meat is a byproduct, and generally not of high quality. (Although note that virtually all veal and a good chunk of what you’ll find in supermarkets is dairy. Half of calves are male, and pretty useless for milk production.) They’re lanky. If you can clearly see hip bones, you’re looking at a dairy cow. The iconic examples are Holstein and Guernsey, but there are about 6 breeds. The people involved are generically called “dairymen”. They hire kickass lobbyists. (I’ll explain why this is important in a minute.)
            Dual Purpose cattle are (theoretically) used for both beef and milk. They’re really mostly used by cattlemen looking to breed in a bit of genetic diversity that will get their calves off to a faster start. There are only a couple surviving breeds of these. (And I would pay good money to watch someone try to milk a Saler. We used them a lot because they’ve got some truly awesome traits that breed true, but at best they’re quasi-feral with an attitude that’s downright unfriendly.)
            The next basic thing to cover is USDA grades.
            Commercial is the lowest grade. It’s subdivided into cutter and canner grades, but it doesn’t really matter. Unless you’re in prison or the military you’ll pretty much only encounter this in canned dog food and the like.
            Select is the next lowest grade. If a grade isn’t noted, the meat is Select. Until a bit over 20 years ago, this grade was called “Standard”. The Cattleman’s Association was most impressed with pork producers’ successful marketing of “the other white meat” and decided a better name for lean beef would be helpful to marketing their product. So they petitioned the government for the purpose. The Dairymen called their lobbyists, and in the end, the category was renamed, but also redefined in such a way that most slaughtered dairy cattle qualify (whereas before they were mostly relegated to Commercial grade.)
            The second highest grade is Choice. To reach this grade, you pretty much need a beef breed that’s had its fodder supplemented with grain for at least three months. It’s very good.
            The highest grade is Prime. It’s great stuff, what you’ll find in high end steakhouses. It’s tricky to achieve and the meat packer/shipper will rob you blind if you go through a middleman, so it’s pretty much all directly contacted.
            About that box…
            “The box” is the bane of feedlot operator’s and cattle breeder’s existences. It’s a semi-mythical virtual box of space that packer/shippers feel the finished carcass should occupy. If the carcass is bigger than the box, a penalty is withheld. The box is based on a Select or Choice grade Angus steer of no more than two years of age. Which is why most beef cattle will be at least half Angus. (And why you need to contact directly if you want Prime grade beef.)
            This is kind of important, because your calf will be most likely purchased at a feeder/grower auction. Where feedlot operators will be bidding up cattle likely to stay in spec, but largely avoiding animals that won’t. So don’t be afraid of that Hereford x Simmenthal x Charlois x Chianina that’s built like a fricking battleship and which everyone else is actively avoiding. You’re in a different market, and will get more meat at a lower price, while likely winding up with a higher grade.
            (I note this, simply because there are lots of Angus loyalists that don’t fully understand *why* they’re Angus loyalists. They’ll pay a premium to buy you a nice compact Angus when most of the benefits doing so are irrelevant to you.)
            It really isn’t too difficult to find a farmer who is willing to aquire a feeder/grower and finish it for you. After all, you’re paying him up front and it’s almost all profit for him. But it’s worth contacting the local extension agent (from your state university. If you have trouble finding them, look up who runs your local 4-H chapters). They can make recommendations on feeding and have close contact with a number of farmers or ranchers they can recommend.
            Alternately, you can stake a kid in 4-H or FFA. And the extension agent is your key to this door.
            There’s also a quick route. At the end of county fairs, 4-H and FFA host an auction. You can go there and just bid on an animal that’s finished and ready to slaughter. Because it’s a charity thing funding the kid’s scholarship, it’ll be a bit more expensive, but it also avoids the hassle of contacting with someone.
            Further random thoughts…
            “Certified Angus” is for the packer/shipper, not the consumer. It’s really just a precertification of the box. Although it does indicate that you’re getting beef from a breed that’s bred for the purpose, so there’s that. But by and large, it’s a way to sell you Select grade beef at a premium.
            Likewise with grass-fed beef. It’s going to be Select.
            The longhorn and shorthorn breeds are weird. They’re beef breeds, but they’re pretty much always going to grade Select.
            With some cuts of meat, the grade really doesn’t matter much. Connective tissue is connective tissue, and you’re cooking it slow and low regardless. You can throw a cheap cut of roast in a crock pot with some salt, pepper, garlic, rosemary, thyme, broth, or beer, or French onion soup, let it cook on low for ten hours, and you’re golden with minimal effort. But what’s fine for chuck or round is a travesty with a 7-bone or standing rib roast.

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