Dry, stringy, tough roast beef is a thing of the past when you wrap the roast in plastic and foil while it bakes. The roast steams to tenderness with no basting required. And don't worry about the plastic melting -- it's protected from the heat when securely covered with foil.
The Right Roast
Some cuts of beef, such as chuck, rump and round roasts, come from the cow's well-worked muscles and need long, slow cooking to become tender. The problem is the longer the meat is cooked, the drier it becomes. The foil and plastic wrap method keeps the meat moist until the connective fibers and collagen melt. Roasts such as standing rib or tenderloin don't need long cooking to become tender, so they don't need a wrap. They're best cooked at higher temperatures for shorter times.
Seasoning Makes a Difference
Salt and pepper are classic seasonings for a roast. Go ahead and use your choice of herbs and spices such as cumin, coriander and cilantro for a taste of the Southwest, or garlic, basil and oregano for an Italian-inspired roast. Germans would use parsley, caraway seeds and thyme. Reserve about half of the seasonings. Pat the other half all over the roast.
Brown It First
Browning the roast adds color and flavor. Heat a few tablespoons of oil in a large pan. Sear the roast on all sides. Remove it from the heat and let it cool. You should be able to touch the roast with your fingers without burning. Pat the reserved seasoning on the roast but save a tablespoon or two.
Wrap It Up
Place the roast in a pan that has a lip on the sides, most roasting pans do. Add a cup of water to the pan and the reserved seasonings. Stretch sheets of microwave-safe plastic wrap across the roast and the pan, tucking the ends under the lip of the pan. Lay sheets of aluminum foil over the plastic. Crimp the edges of the foil over the plastic wrap and under the lip of the pan to form a tight seal. The aluminum foil prevents the wrap from melting.
Turn On the Heat
Cook your roast at 300 degrees Fahrenheit for about 20 to 45 minutes per pound. Tough cuts such as shank, brisket or neck bones will take longer. The USDA recommends cooking the meat to a medium doneness of 145 F. However, many chefs prefer their beef rare, and only roast it to 120 to 125 F. When the roast reaches your preferred level of doneness, remove it from the oven and let it rest for 30 minutes before carving.
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