How to Salvage an Overcooked Beef Roast


Doneness is difficult to judge with beef roasts and other large cuts of meat. The only effective way to know when they're cooked correctly is with a thermometer, because rules of thumb concerning time and temperature are only rough guides. Even proficient cooks will occasionally overcook a roast, leaving it dry and tasteless. Your dog would gladly "take one for the team" and make it go away, but there are usually several ways to salvage your roast either for that night's dinner or for a later meal.

Things You'll Need

  • Heatproof baking dish
  • Measuring cup
  • Spoon or ladle
  • Beef broth
  • Foil
  • Leftover vegetables
  • Pie crust
  • Tomato sauce
  • Beef concentrate
  • Cooked pasta

Fixing It Tonight

  • Trim away any hard, crusty edges from the roast -- somebody usually wants to nibble those, anyway -- and slice the rest thinly. Arrange the slices in the bottom of a heatproof baking dish. If they're still flexible enough to fold without breaking, fold each piece at its midpoint.

  • Strain the drippings from the roast into a measuring cup, and spoon or ladle any excess fat from the top. Pour the drippings over the sliced beef, so they pieces are just barely covered. Add packaged beef broth, if necessary, to make up enough liquid.

  • Slide the pan into a preheated oven at 250 degrees Fahrenheit for 10 minutes, long enough to absorb much of the moisture. Drain the broth and drippings from the pan, leaving a small amount in the bottom, and cover the beef with foil to keep it warm.

  • Make gravy with the broth and drippings. Serve the gently simmered beef with generous portions of gravy, to help keep each bite moist.

Inside a Crust

  • Cool the roast, trim away any hard edges, and dice the rest into cubes of approximately 1/4 to 3/8 inch.

  • Prepare gravy from the roast's drippings, if you haven't already done so. Dice the vegetables left over from your ill-fated dinner, and set them aside in a separate bowl.

  • Layer the diced meat and vegetables into a prepared pie shell, either homemade or store-bought. Cover the filling with cooled gravy, stretching it with a few tablespoons of beef broth if necessary.

  • Top your meat pie with another sheet of pastry, and cut vent holes in the top. Bake at 375 F until the crust is golden brown and the filling is bubbling. Serve hot.

With Pasta

  • Cut off any hard, crusty edges from the roast and dice or mince the remainder.

  • Stir the beef into your favorite tomato sauce, and let it simmer for at least 10 to 15 minutes to absorb some of the sauce's moisture and flavors. Add a splash of beef broth or beef concentrate, if you wish, for a meatier flavor.

  • Serve the sauce over pasta. Minced beef works with long pasta or small shapes, while diced beef is better suited for chunkier shapes, such as penne.

Tips & Warnings

  • If you've already made gravy from the roast's drippings, layer the sliced beef with gravy and keep it warm for 10 to 15 minutes before serving. This will mask its dryness almost as well as simmering in broth.
  • Rather than a large meat pie, the same filling can be used for small single-sized pies or individual pasties.
  • Beef simmered in tomato sauce is also a good topping for gnocchi or polenta. If your stomach fares poorly with acidic sauces, use a white sauce or sour-cream sauce instead.

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  • The American Woman's Cookbook, Wartime Victory Edition; Ruth Berolzheimer, Editor
  • Photo Credit Jupiterimages/liquidlibrary/Getty Images
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