Meat is love.
Back in college, I cooked for one. Broke and a little too obsessed with my weight, I walked to the supermarket and would buy two sea scallops to saute in butter and shallots, served next to a handful of green beans. My roommates thought I was insane, but I felt like a gourmet, and each bite was like heaven.
When I moved in with my husband, I joyfully adjusted to cooking for two. It was, after all, a single girl’s dream, and not a huge challenge. We had two incomes, no kids, and didn’t think twice about buying filet mignon at $29.99 a pound.
Things didn’t change when we had Bella. As soon as she could eat meat, filet mignon was her finger food. She turned up her nose at plain hamburgers. Nothing was too good for our little Manhattan baby. Even once our family grew to two, then three kids, steak, lamb chops, and other expensive meat cuts continued to be regular weeknight dinners as opposed to special occasion dishes. It wasn’t until the birth of Sophie, our fourth child, that we tipped into another cooking category.
I would buy lamb chops, lots of obscenely expensive lamb chops, and it somehow was never enough. Time after time, I would reach for my second chop, only to feel the sad Dickensian stares of all the children at the table. “Is that really the last lamb chop, Mom? We’re still so hungry. Please Mommy, can we have some more?” I’ll leave you to guess whether I gave them the meat from my plate or left them to grow from the hardships of hunger. Do I love my meat more than my children?
To avoid these Sophie’s choice types of agony at the dinner table, I’ve been cooking more budget cuts: big hunks of pork and beef that fill the house with flavor and leave us with plenty of yummy leftovers to fill lunchboxes. Roast beef is a favorite. I used to be scared to overcook it, or be left with a tough lump of meat, but I have a great recipe that’s not only fool proof, it’s also incredibly low maintenance: two to three hours in the oven at a low temperature yields perfectly pink roast beef.
Having a digital thermometer will make your life easier, but a super cheap regular thermometer will do the trick as well. Preheat your oven to 250 degrees, cook the roast at that temp for 30 to 45 minutes (I leave it flexible to show you how this recipe melds with your life’s needs), and then lower the temp to 200 degrees to cook for an additional 2 to 3 hours. At the two hour mark, check with the thermometer for doneness: 120 degrees for rare, 140 for medium, and 160 for well-done. For $15, you can even buy a remote thermometer that will alert you when the roast reaches your desired temperature, making this 100% fool proof.
This roast cost me about $15. When I served it last night, Jack looked up at me, beaming with a mouth full of meat. With his mouth full, he muttered, “Mom, this is the best meat you have ever made.” Take THAT filet mignon!
- 1 2-3 pound top sirloin beef roast
- 2 Tablespoons of vegetable oil
- 2 teaspoons of shallot salt (substitute garlic salt if necessary - I'm a Frenchie. I prefer shallots)
- 1 teaspoon of ground mustard
- 1 tablespoon of minced shallots, fresh or dried
- ground black pepper
- Remove the roast from the fridge and bring to room temperature.
- Preheat oven to 250 degrees Fahrenheit.
- In a small bowl, mix the vegetable oil with the spices to make a paste. Rub the paste all over the roast, sprinkling the shallots on top at the end.
- Put roast in oven and leave for 35 to 45 minutes.
- Without opening the door, lower the heat to 200 degrees Fahrenheit and cook for another two hours.
- Remove the roast and check for temperature (if you have a nifty remote thermometer, just take a peek at it and leave your roast in the oven). When your roast is within 5 degrees of your desired doneness (120 degrees for rare, 135 for medium rare, 140 for medium, and 160 for well-done), take it out from the oven and let it rest for 10 minutes. This resting period is KEY. It lets the juices redistribute and the cooking finish.
- Slice the roast as thin as you possibly can and serve. Slice extra to serve as sandwiches the next day.
- NOTE: some recipes call for finishing this roast beef with 5 minutes at 500 degrees Fahrenheit to caramelize the outside. Because I coat the roast in spices and oil, I found it to be sufficiently caramelized after low heat roasting. Blasting it at the end, when it's perfectly done, is nothing short of terrifying.