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It’s A Cook’s Country Recipe Week, Part 1 – Grandma’s Roast Beef and Gravy

I have always been a fan of America’s Test Kitchen, Cook’s Illustrated and Cook’s Country. I follow them on Facebook and Twitter and have several of the cookbooks. I also recently started getting the Cook’s Country magazine via subscription and I have to say I really like it. The recipes are great with easy to follow steps and they give you all kinds of great cooking advice as far as techniques, pantry items and equipment. For this week, I decided to do some of the Cook’s Country recipes I have been trying lately. First up is the roast beef dinner I made last week. Luckily I picked one of the cooler days to give it a try so I could use the oven.

Grandma’s Roast Beef and Gravy

1 (4- to 5- pound) boneless top-round roast

Salt and pepper

1 tablespoon vegetable oil

4 tablespoons butter

2 carrots, peeled and cut into 2-inch pieces

1 onion, peeled and cut into 1/2-inch rounds

1 celery rib, cut into 2-inch pieces

1/2 cup all-purpose flour

1 teaspoon tomato paste

2 cans beef consomme

1 1/2 cups water

Pat the roast dry with paper towels and rub with 2 teaspoons of salt. Wrap the roast in plastic wrap and refrigerate at least 1 hour and up to 24 hours.

Adjust an oven rack to the middle position and heat the oven to 225 degrees. Pat the roast dry with paper towels and rub with 2 teaspoons of pepper. Heat the oil in a large, oven-safe skillet over medium-high heat until it is just smoking. Brown the roast all over on all sides, about 8 to 12 minutes; transfer the roast to a plate.

Pour off all but 2 tablespoons of the fat from the pan. Add the butter to the skillet and melt it over medium heat. Cook the carrots, onion and celery until they are lightly browned, about 6 to 8 minutes. Add the flour and the tomato paste and cook until the flour is golden and the paste begins to darken, about 2 minutes. Off the heat, push the vegetables to the center of the pan. Place the roast on top of the vegetables and transfer the skillet to the oven. Cook the roast until the meat registers 125 degrees (for medium-rare), about 2 1/2 to 3 1/2 hours. Transfer the roast to a carving board, tent with foil and allow the meat to rest for 20 minutes.

Meanwhile, keeping in mind that the skillet handle will still be quite hot, return the skillet with vegetables to medium-high heat and cook, stirring occasionally, until the vegetables are a deep golden brown, about 5 minutes. Slowly whisk in the consomme and water, scraping up any browned bits, and bring it to a boil. Reduce the heat to medium and simmer until the gravy is thickened, about 10 to 15 minutes. Strain the gravy through a fine mesh strainer into a serving bowl. Discard the vegetables. Season the gravy with salt and pepper to taste.

Thinly slice the roast crosswise against the grain and serve with the gravy.

Cooking the roast beef in this method made things much easier. You do a slow roasting and everything is done in just one pan, making cleanup even easier. Salting the meat helps a great deal in drawing out some of the moisture from the meat. Also, instead of flouring the meat beforehand and searing it, adding the flour to the vegetables instead helps you eliminate that pasty flavor a roast can get from raw flour and still lets you make a rich, dark gravy. You could certainly use water instead of the beef broth when making the gravy, but the broth really does help add another layer of flavor to the gravy, so I would use it. Of course, you also then have options with leftovers like making things such as open-faced roast beef sandwiches, French dip sandwiches or Philly cheesesteaks. I served the roast beef with mashed potatoes and some fresh corn on the cob and broccoli.

That’s all I have for today. Check back next time to see another Cook’s Country recipe. This time I will be making the meatballs and marinara recipe that appears in one of the issues I just received. Be sure to check that one out tomorrow. Until then, enjoy the rest of your day and enjoy your meal!



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Posted by on July 29, 2013 in Beef, Cooking, Dinner, Gravy


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Finally, a Roast Beef Dinner to Write About!

Well I have finally gotten around to making the roast beef dinner I have been threatening to make for days. I had seen an episode of America’s Test Kitchen entitled “Resurrecting the Roast Beef Dinner” and decided to try their method of slow roasting the beef. It’s a little more time-consuming, but the results will be worth it. The idea is to take traditionally tougher cuts of beef that the supermarkets sell for oven roasts and make them as tender as possible. I can tell you just from the salting alone, the meat was more tender than when I first bought it. They recommend using an eye round for this recipe, since most eye rounds have a uniform shape to them that lets you have nice slices of beef.

Slow-Roasted Beef

1 boneless eye round roast (3 1/2 to 4 1/2 pounds)

4 teaspoons kosher salt or 2 tablespoons table salt

2 teaspoons vegetable oil plus 1 tablespoon

2 teaspoons ground black pepper

Sprinkle all sides of the roast evenly with the salt. Wrap the roast in plastic wrap and refrigerate for 18 to 24 hours. Adjust an oven rack to the middle position and heat the oven to 225 degrees. Pat the roast dry with paper towels and rub with teaspoons of the oil and sprinkle all sides evenly with pepper. Heat the remaining tablespoon of oil in a large skillet over medium high heat until starting to smoke. Sear the roast until browned on all sides, 3 to 4 minutes per side. Transfer the roast to a wire rack set in a rimmed baking sheet. Roast the meat until an instant read thermometer inserted in the center of the roast registers 115 degrees for medium rare, 1 1/4 to 1 3/4 hours, or 125 degrees for medium, 1 3/4 to 2 1/4 hours.

Turn the oven off; leave the roast in the oven, without opening the door, until an instant read thermometer inserted in the center of the roast registers 130 degrees for medium-rare or 140 degrees for medium, 30 to 50 minutes longer. Transfer the roast to a carving board and let rest for 15 minutes. Slice the meat crosswise as thinly as possible and serve.

It’s worth the time you have to wait for this roast. Along side the roast beef, of course, you should have mashed potatoes. We eat a lot of mashed potatoes in this house (probably more than we should) so I was hoping for a variation on them for tonight since we just had them last night. Luckily for me, this episode of America’s Test Kitchen provided that as well.

Mashed Potatoes and Root Vegetables

4 tablespoons butter

8 ounces carrots, parsnips, turnips, or celery root, peeled; carrots or parsnips cut into 1/4-inch thick half-moons; turnips or celery root cut into 1/2-inch dice (I only had carrots and parsnips on hand)

1 1/2 pounds Yukon Gold or Russet potatoes, peeled, quartered lengthwise, and cut crosswise into 1/4-inch thick slices; rinsed well in 3 or 4 changes of cold water and drained well

1/3 cup chicken broth


3/4 cup half-and-half, warmed

3 tablespoons minced fresh chives

Ground black pepper

Melt the butter in a large saucepan over medium heat. When foaming subsides, add the root vegetables and cook, stirring occasionally, until the butter is browned and the vegetables are dark brown and caramelized, 10 to 12 minutes.

Add the potatoes, broth and 3/4 teaspoon of salt and stir to combine. Cook, covered, on low heat (the broth should simmer gently; do not boil), stirring occasionally, until the potatoes fall apart easily when poked with a fork and all liquid has been absorbed, 25 to 30 minutes. Remove the pan from the heat; remove the lid and allow the steam to escape for 2 minutes.

Gently mash the potatoes and root vegetables in the saucepan with a potato masher (do not mash too vigorously). Gently fold in the warm half-and-half and the chives. Season with salt and pepper to taste; serve immediately.

Rinsing the peeled and sliced potatoes several times will help you remove the excess starch and keep them from getting gummy once the potatoes have been cooked and mashed. try to keep all the vegetables a uniform size also, so everything cooks at the same speed.

Finally tonight, my sister had asked me that when I do the recipe for roast beef if I could put a recipe for au jus along with it. One thing I have noticed is that I don’t really use a recipe for au jus, it’s more of something I just make based on how much juice I have in the pan from the meat, plus any juice from slicing. and then it really depends on how many people I am serving as to how much beef broth and wine I add to it. Remember au jus isn’t like gravy; it shouldn’t be thick, it’s really just a juice. So here’s what I do. if anyone has a better method or recipe, please post here so we can all share.

Roast Beef Au Jus

Beef juices accumulated in the pan from the roast beef

Beef broth

Red wine

Pour off all but 2 tablespoons of the fat (leaving the beef juices in the pan) from the roasting pan and discard the remaining fat. Place the roasting pan on the stove over medium heat. Add the beef stock and stir to release any browned bits in the pan. Add the red wine of your choice. Bring the mixture to a boil and cook until the stock is slightly reduced, about 5 minutes. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Serve alongside the roast beef.

As I said, I have no set amounts of broth and wine to use; you really just have to eyeball it based on how much you want to make. Also, the au jus will only be as good as the beef broth and red wine that you use. If you use homemade broth and a good red wine, it will be great. I personally use beef broth in the rectangular “foil” containers because I rarely have homemade beef broth around. I would stay away from bouillon cubes myself; I find them way too salty and not very flavorful.

So that’s it for tonight. Tomorrow night is Chicken Fajitas for dinner around here, a recipe I have posted here before, so I am not sure if I’ll having anything to post tomorrow or not. Wednesday’s tend to be a little hectic anyway, so we’ll see how it goes. Until then, enjoy your evening and enjoy your meal!

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Posted by on April 17, 2012 in Beef, Cooking, Dinner, Potatoes, Sauce, Vegetables


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