Today we’re preparing a Top Round Beef Roast, which we’ll be topping with a thick brown gravy. This classic combination is perfect for small holiday gatherings or as a satisfying Sunday dinner. This recipe is shockingly easy to pull together, and a delight for senses.
We’ll be putting together today’s roast with a little help from our new friends over at Better Than Bouillon, but more on them in just a second.
In this recipe, we’ll be covering some gravy basics, including how to prepare a roux, the different types of roux, and how to use each type. We’ll also be covering some top round roast basics, and how best to pair today’s roast. I’ll also be providing an ingredient checklist and notes on each ingredient.
Now, without further delay, let’s get to it.
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Top Round Roast – A Brief Primer
Top Round Roast comes from the ‘round’ of the cow, which is the hind area just above the shanks. This area of the cow is used for movement and support, and thus is under constant ‘tension’ when the cow is standing still, and receives exercise whenever the cow moves. Thus, the area tends to contain very, very little fat, while the ‘muscle meat’ tends to be very well developed. This leads to the area being tough (developed muscles), and being short on flavor (low fat), in comparison to other areas of the cow. However, this also has the effect of the making the meat perfect for ‘low and slow’ roasting. Regardless, there are a few ways to get around the meat’s general toughness and lack of fat. The first and most common method is to rub the roast down – thoroughly – with butter. This has the effect of introducing ‘fat’ into the roast, which it lacks naturally on its own, whilst also giving the outside of the roast just a hint of crispness during roasting. The second method is what we’re doing today, which to blend together oil and herbs, and then rub the roast down with that. While this doesn’t add quite as much ‘fat’ back into the roast, it does make for a much more flavorful roast, in my opinion.
- Rosemary. This, to me, ‘makes’ the rub, as fresh rosemary just works so well with meaty recipes such as this one.
- Salt. Ground sea salt would work wonders here.
- Black Pepper. Freshly ground pepper, in my opinion, is preferable for this particular recipe.
- Dried Oregano. Dried oregano is what you’re looking for. Fresh will be overpowering for this recipe.
- Garlic. Peel and then mince the garlic as fine as you can manage.
- Olive Oil. This acts as a base, binding the ingredients into a paste to allow rubbing it over the roast.
- Flour. The primary ingredient in the roux, along with the butter.
- Butter. Fat brings the gravy together by forming the base for the roux.
- Olive Oil. Roux can use either butter or oil, or a mix of both. For today’s roux, we’re opting for a mix of both. The addition of oil helps keep the roux from becoming too thick.
- Pan Drippings. A bit more fat for the roux, plus delicious ‘meaty flavor.’ This also adds in needed moisture.
- Bouillon. A good bouillon is, in my opinion, a must-have for ‘most’ gravy recipes. This is especially true if the gravy is being use as a ‘table sauce.’ Personally, I’m using Better Than Bouillon, which is acting as the flavor base for the gravy we’re using on the roast.
- Salt. Kosher salt for best results, although plain table salt is all you need here.
- Pepper. Freshly ground black pepper. I do prefer fresh ground, or even mortar ground pepper for my gravies, as the difference in aroma is quite noticeable.
Gravy Basics – A Brief Tutorial
- The Types of Roux. Gravy starts out as a basic roux. Roux comes in four classifications – white, blonde, brown, and dark brown. Each type contains the same basic ingredients (flour and fat), and are instead differentiated by cooking time. White roux is generally cooked for about five minutes or less, while dark brown roux can be cooked for upwards of thirty minutes. Generally speaking, white roux is not eaten on its own, but is instead used as an ingredient, typically as a thickening agent in various white sauces, such as bechamel. Blonde roux, also, is generally used as an ingredient, such as in velouté sauce, since it has a ‘darker’ or ‘nuttier’ flavor and a heavier texture than white roux. Finally, brown and dark brown roux are what you can begin to recognize as ‘gravy.’ Deeply flavorful and ‘pleasantly textured’ on its own, once you flavor it with pan drippings and herbs, you’ve got yourself a proper ‘table sauce.’ However, brown and dark brown roux are also sometimes used as an ingredient in dishes like gumbo.
- How To Make Roux. Begin with equal parts flour and ‘fat’ (fat can be butter, oil, vegetable oil, or a combination of butter and oil). It is ‘very’ important that you divide these parts by weight. Thus, one cup of fat (butter and/or oil) requires one cup of flour, and so forth. Begin by melting the butter in a sauce pan, and then add in the flour (add the flour all at once). Whisk this mixture until a thick, paste-like mixture has come together. Continue whisking until it has achieved the color you desire. Brown roux needs to be stirred constantly and vigorously to keep it from burning. Thus, the longer you cook your roux the more attention you need to give it. Do not leave ‘any’ type of roux cooking unattended. Seasonings and/or pan drippings, are added in with the flour.
- From Roux to Gravy. Roux becomes gravy based on what you add to it, such as pan drippings, seasonings, or – as we’re doing here – bouillon. Today, we’re sprucing up the roux with Better Than Bouillon Beef Base, which adds in a delicious roasted beef flavor. This is the easiest way to spruce up your roux, which in turn produces a deliciously seasoned, full-bodied gravy. So, be sure to spruce up your holiday by heading over to Better than Bouillon.
Pairing a Top Round Roast
- Biscuits. Flaky biscuits and a beef roast. That really is a match made in culinary heaven.
- Warmed Green Beans. An ideal pairing, especially on chilled autumn or winter nights would be string beans sautéed in extra virgin olive oil with cherry tomatoes, sweet onion, and plenty of garlic. Red and black pepper, and a dusting of parmesan, make this a wonderfully flavorful, yet blissfully simple, side dish.
- Sweet Potato Soup. A hardy sweet potato soup, prepared with an earthy and warming mix of onions, carrots, and, of course, sweet potatoes, carried on a chicken and parmesan broth, with plenty of herbs and garlic. The end result is a warming, flavorful soup that’s perfect for wintry meals, such as today’s top round roast.
How To Cook a Tender Roast Beef
For achieving a tender beef round roast with an easy herb-crusted recipe, the oven is your culinary ally. Here's the best way to make this happen:
- Choose the Right Cut: Start with a top round roast, often referred to as the "eye of round roast." It's a lean cut, and with the right method, it can be incredibly tender. We’re cooking a four and half pound roast, so adjust the ingredients and cook time according to the size of your roast.
- Prepare the Roast: Rub your roast with a flavorful herb mixture. Crushed fresh herbs in a mortar and pestle really do achieve the best results. This might include rosemary, fresh thyme, fresh herbs, garlic, salt, and pepper. These herbs will infuse the meat with delightful aromas and tastes.
- Preheat the Oven: Ensure your oven is adequately preheated. Typically, an oven temperature of 325°F (160°C) is ideal for slow cooking your round roast.
- Roasting Pan: Place your seasoned roast in a roasting pan, preferably with a rack to allow for even cooking and airflow. This prevents the meat from stewing in its juices.
- Use a Meat Thermometer: A meat thermometer is your best friend for precision. Insert it into the center of the roast, avoiding bones if any. For medium-rare, aim for an internal temperature of 135-140°F (57-60°C), while medium would be around 145-150°F (63-66°C).
- Slow Cooking: Slow and steady every time. Roast your beef round at the set temperature. Remember, patience is key when aiming for tenderness.
- Basting: If you desire additional flavor and moisture, consider basting the roast with a mixture of red wine and beef broth.
- Rest the Roast: Once your roast reaches the desired level of doneness, take the finished roast out of the oven. Loosely tent it with aluminum foil on a wire rack, and let the roast rest for about 15-20 minutes. This allows the juices to redistribute, resulting in a juicy and tender roast.
- Slicing: While this is purely a matter of preference, I personally think a great way to serve the roast is in thin slices. Cutting the roast into thin slices is a great way to ensure maximum saturation with either a rich gravy or beef broth.
With this easy herb-crusted recipe and precise cooking, you'll have a delicious, tender beef round roast that's perfect for Sunday dinners or any special occasion.
What is a Beef Round Roast? Comparison to Chuck Roast and Rump Roast
A beef round roast is a lean and flavorful cut that's often used for various culinary delights. Here's what you need to know about it, especially when comparing it to other roasts like chuck and rump:
Beef Round Roast:
- Lean, Tender, Tough: The round roast comes from the hind leg of the cow. As mentioned above, this is an area of the cow that is receiving constant exercise. That makes it a lean cut, with less marbling compared to cuts like chuck roast. This means it can be less juicy and tougher than most other cuts, but this also means that they tend to be an inexpensive cut of meat.
- Ideal Uses: Though tough, round roasts can achieve a melt in your texture when properly cooked, as the same qualities that make them tough also make them ideal for oven roasting, slow cooking, or even being popped into the instant pot. Basically, low and slow is the name of the game. Once properly prepared, they can be sliced for sandwiches, served as a roast dinner, or used in dishes like pot roast.
- Connective Tissue: While round roasts have less connective tissue compared to chuck roasts, they still contain quite a bit. This tissue can make the roast tough if not cooked properly. However, when cooked low and slow for extended periods of time, the connective tissue will melt down, infusing the roast with additional flavor, and tenderizing the meat.
- Cooking Methods: Round roasts do well with slow and moist cooking methods, like pot roasting in a Dutch oven or slow cooker. Cooking at a medium-high heat or high temperature can result in a tender roast, but low and slow is still preferred, as mentioned above.
Comparing to Chuck and Rump:
- Chuck Roast: Chuck roast comes from the shoulder of the cow and has more marbling and connective tissue. It's ideal for pot roasts, stews, and braising. It's known for its rich, beefy flavor.
- Rump Roast: Rump roast is also lean but not as tender as round roast. It's often roasted in the oven and sliced thin for dishes like roast beef sandwiches.
In short, a beef round roast is a fantastic cut for various dishes, especially when you're aiming for a leaner option. It can be tender and flavorful when cooked using the right methods. Comparatively, it has less marbling and connective tissue than chuck roast, making it an excellent choice for those who prefer a leaner beef option. Whether you're using a slow cooker, Dutch oven, or instant pot, this easy herb-crusted recipe will help you make the most of your round roast.
Why You’ll Love this Easy Recipe
- Easy and Approachable: This recipe is perfect for beginners, even if you're attempting a roast for the first time. The straightforward cooking method and minimal prep make it accessible to both beginners and experienced home cooks alikes.
- Versatile Leftovers: Enjoy the roast beef not only on the day you make it but also the next day. Leftovers can be used in sandwiches, wraps, or salads, providing you with delectable meals for days to come.
- Budget-Friendly: This recipe allows you to transform an affordable cut of beef round roast, readily available at your local grocery store, into a tender and savory meal for the whole family.
- Foolproof Cooking Method: The cooking process behind this roast recipe ensures that your beef round roast turns out tender and juicy every time. No need to worry about overcooking; an instant-read thermometer is your trusty guide.
Whether you're preparing this tender beef round roast for a special occasion or as a comforting family meal, it's bound to become a favorite. The ease of preparation, exquisite flavor, and the ability to enjoy it for days make it a recipe you'll want to keep in your culinary repertoire.