Beef Roast: Why aren’t my roasts tender?

I recently got an e-mail from Virginia saying, “All my roasts come out tough; any help would be appreciated.” This is a great question and there isn’t a simple solution. I am not sure whether she is referring to pot roasts or more tender cuts such as rib roasts that are cooked in an open pan in the oven but my first response would be that the secret is shopping not cooking. You have to hunt for meat that is generously marbled with fat. This is easier when you are selecting a roast such as a standing rib roast or a whole tenderloin that you are going to cook in the oven in an open pan with dry heat. The trick in that case is to cook the roast to the proper internal temperature and to let it stand 5 to 10 minutes before carving it. It is a lot harder to find a pot roast to braise or cook in a pressure cooker; they are all very lean these days.  They look beautiful in the market, but dry out when cooked with moist heat. I used to always choose a tri-tip (silver-tip is its New York name) but  they are very hard to find any more. Lately I have switched to short ribs; they are not a pot roast but they have enough fat to be tender and juicy after braising. Larding is a technique that used to be done to help a dry pot roast remain tender and juicy. Strips of fat would be inserted through the roast with a long needle, usually by the butcher before the roast was sold. This is still worth doing but it isn’t easy to find someone who will do it for you.

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2 Responses to Beef Roast: Why aren’t my roasts tender?

  1. Lei says:

    One thing I always do is to dredge my beef roast in seasoned flour and brown it on all sides. Not only will you get a wonderfully tender roast, but you’ll have a great base for your gravy.

  2. Sara Moulton says:

    Interesting idea John, however I can’t get my oven to go below 250 F.

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