Roast beef on cutting board with saltcellar and pepper mill

From Chuck Roast to “Prime Rib” in Three Hours Flat

Shortly after I wrote a column on the specific steps to roast a cheap cut of beef so that it turns out like prime rib, I got an email from faithful reader, Mary B. We went back and forth a bit as she prepared this for guests. I thought you would enjoy the feedback.

Roast beef on cutting board with saltcellar and pepper mill

But first, here’s a quick refresher on how to do that:

1. Make sure you have a good oven thermometer (to measure the heat inside the oven) and an ovenproof meat thermometer (not instant-read, but one that you will insert and leave in the meat the entire time it is in the oven). Gauging the exact temperatures of both the oven and the meat are the secret.

2. Tie the roast with white cotton string so it’s compact and evenly shaped and salt it well.

3. Wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate for 24 hours.  

4. Remove the plastic wrap and place in a roasting pan, uncovered.

5. Insert the meat thermometer into the thickest part of the roast and leave it there.

6. Preheat oven to exactly 250 F using an oven thermometer, not relying on the one that is built into the oven. This is critical. Rarely is an oven calibrated exactly so that the internal heat measures exactly the same temperature as the setting dial.

7. Leave the roast in the oven until its internal temperature is exactly 130 F.

8. Remove the roast from the oven, quickly wrap it in foil and allow the meat to rest for exactly 20 minutes.

Mary B: Having guests tomorrow so hope you can answer quickly! I am planning to make a chuck roast using the method you describe in your article—but wondering if you can give me a ballpark figure on how long this may take for a 3-pound chuck roast? I need to make the rest of the meal to finish at about the same time! Roasting it at 250 F, will it take approximately two hours? Four hours?

Thank you for your wonderful column, I am a faithful reader!

Me: Well … I am so excited! This is going to be awesome.

For an inexpensive slow-roasted beef to be transformed from a bargain cut into a tender, juicy roast, it is important that you salt the meat a full 24 hours before roasting and then cook it at a very low temperature, which allows the meat’s enzymes to act as natural tenderizers, breaking down its tough connective tissue.

I’m hurrying here because if this is for tomorrow, you have no time to waste! Tie it up and then be generous with the salt and rub it in. You can also season with pepper or additional spices at this point if you want, but just be sure you are super generous with the salt.

Next, wrap it tightly in plastic wrap and place it put it back into the fridge for 24 hours. Take the roast out of the fridge about two hours ahead of roasting to allow it to come to room temperature. 

Remove the plastic wrap and place in the roasting pan. Once it’s in the 250 F oven, you want the internal temperature of the roast to come to 130 F for rare; about 150 F for medium, or 160 F for well. So you need to watch that carefully. Your 3-pound roast (depending on how densely you tie it up) will take 2 to 2.5 hrs for rare … a bit longer to reach the higher temps. But it will go fast, so watch that thermometer carefully. When you do take it out of the oven, wrap it in foil while it rests. 

After 20 minutes, remove the string(s), carve it across the grain, and enjoy!

Oven and Beef

Let me know how this turns out for you. Or just invite me over. That works, too.

Mary B: Thanks again for your help on the prep for the meat. It turned out fabulous and I will definitely use this method again and again. And thanks for your column. I have read it for years and love my daily email from Everyday Cheapskate.

Me: So happy to hear that it turned out great. Thanks for being there!

Roast beef on cutting board with saltcellar and pepper mill

How to Roast a Cheap Cut of Beef

Follow these simple steps to turn a cheap cut of beef so that it turns out like "prime rib!"
5 from 1 vote
Print Pin Rate
Course: Main Course
Cuisine: American
Prep Time: 30 minutes
Cook Time: 3 hours
Prep in refrigerator: 1 day
Total Time: 1 day 3 hours 30 minutes
Servings: 6
Calories: 272kcal

Equipment

  • A good meat thermometer (not instant read but the kind that will be inserted in the meat and remain there during the entire roasting time in the oven
  • A good oven thermometer to gauge the internal temperature of the oven.

Ingredients

  • 3 lbs roast beef
  • 1 tbsp salt

Instructions

  • Make sure you have a good oven thermometer (to measure the heat inside the oven) and an ovenproof meat thermometer (not instant-read, but one that you will insert and leave in the meat the entire time it is in the oven). Gauging the exact temperatures of both the oven and the meat is the secret.
  • Tie the roast with white cotton string so it’s compact and evenly shaped and salt it well.
  • Wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate for 24 hours.
  • Place the roast inside a roasting pan, uncovered.
  •  Insert the meat thermometer into the thickest part of the roast and leave it there.
  • Preheat oven to exactly 250 F using an oven thermometer, not relying on the one that is built into the oven. This is critical. Rarely is an oven calibrated exactly so that the internal heat measures exactly the same temperature as the setting dial. See NOTES
  • Leave the roast in the oven until its internal temperature is exactly 130 F.
  • Remove the roast from the oven, quickly wrap it in foil and allow the meat to rest for exactly 20 minutes. See NOTES

Notes

  1. For an inexpensive slow-roasted beef to be transformed from a bargain cut into a tender, juicy roast, it is important that you salt the meat a full 24 hours before roasting and then cook it at a very low temperature, which allows the meat’s enzymes to act as natural tenderizers, breaking down its tough connective tissue.
  2. Tie it up and then be generous with the salt and rub it in. You can also season with pepper or additional spices at this point if you want, but just be sure you are super generous with the salt.
  3. Wrap it tightly in plastic wrap and place it put it back into the fridge for 24 hours. Take the roast out of the fridge about two hours ahead of roasting to allow it to come to room temperature. 
  4. Once it’s in the 250 F oven, you want the internal temperature of the roast to come to 130 F for rare; about 150 F for medium, or 160 F for well. So you need to watch that carefully. Your 3-pound roast (depending on how densely you tie it up) will take 2 to 2.5 hrs for rare … a bit longer to reach the higher temps. But it will go fast, so watch that thermometer carefully.
  5. When you do take it out of the oven, wrap it in foil while it rests. 
  6. After 20 minutes, remove the string(s), carve it across the grain, and enjoy!

Nutrition

Serving: 6oz | Calories: 272kcal | Carbohydrates: 1g | Protein: 49g | Fat: 8g | Saturated Fat: 3g | Cholesterol: 129mg | Sodium: 4576mg | Potassium: 635mg | Vitamin C: 102mg | Calcium: 635mg | Iron: 5mg
Tried this recipe?Mention @EverydayCheapskate or tag #EverydayCheapskate!

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8 replies
  1. Jennifer says:

    I look forward to trying this, but I am confused, bc I have read advice from chefs who say to salt the meat at the end of cooking, or the salt will toughen the meat. Obviously, this has not been your experience, but do you know anything about the science behind this contradictory recommendation?

    Reply
  2. Cheryl Miller says:

    I have a recipe for marinated roast you cook on the grill. It comes out very tender and good

    Marinated Roast

    Arm, chuck or pot roast. I use Arm Roast.

    2 t. unseasoned meat tenderizer
    2 t. instant minced onion
    2 t. thyme
    1 t. marjoram
    1 bay leaf-crushed
    3 T lemon juice
    1 cup wine vinegar
    1/4 C. crushed peppercorns (I don’t use these as spouse doesn’t like them–works ok without)
    1/2 C.olive oil or salad oil
    1. Sprinkle meat with tenderizer and pierce deeply with fork
    2. Mix marinade and pour over meat. Let stand 1-2 hrs, turning every half hour—or more if desired which I often do.
    3. To grill–pound peppercorns into each side
    4. Grill about 6 in. above coals—at least 15 min. for rare

    It is excellent. Cheryl Miller cheryldm2@juno.com

    Reply
  3. JudyinAZ says:

    Mary I understand the process of meat preparation and cooking you describe in detail but am a bit confused about the actual term Roast Beef or Chuck Roast you describe in directions and descriptions. There are many cuts of beef labeled as ”roasts” and wondering which exact cut to purchase?

    I am assuming boneless is one feature needed but some roasts have lots of fat and tissue that is left on the meat and some are all trimmed up or have practically no fat/tissue at all. Some are flat, some are shaped like a rock boulder. You mention tying up tightly but nothing about trimming anything away. So my confusion is going to purchase the actual “Roast” at the grocery store or butcher counter and what to do with any fat or tissue that might be on that meat. Help!

    Reply
  4. Pat Weiser says:

    Will this method work with a bottom round roast? I had purchased two and the first was SO very tough. Now I’m not sure what to do with the second one.

    Reply
  5. Yes. says:

    Hi Mary, I can’t thank you enough for all I’ve learned from you over the years. Today, however, I need help with a product that may have been advertised on one of your cheapskate e-mails. It’s the SafeSound Personal Alarm. I almost purchased a few, but decided to research further; I found that this company has an “F” rating from the Better Business Bureau. And after reading some of the reviews, have decided not to order from this company. However, I really do want to purchase several personal alarms, which can be located on a keychain, on the wrist, etc. Do you have a recommendation for a personal alarm that would startle/detract would-be assailants? Thank you Mary. Terri Printz

    Reply
  6. Bettelu says:

    I use a Chambers range, with very well insulated oven,( approximately 100 lbs of insulation contained in stove total. Usual cooking instructions are to turn gas on for 20 minutes at 500 degrees then turn gas off and leave the room so you won’t be tempted to open oven! recommendations of their cookbook states to not open oven during cooking as heat escapes, ( I know this works as my parents sold these ranges for years. After initial directions-of twenty minutes of gas on, my Dad disconnected the stove, loaded it on our truck and my Mom drove around town with a sign stating a ham was cooking in this stove and would be opened and samples served at four o’clock. It worked every time. Needless to state, I have a Chambers as does my son, and my grandson. (Grand has my Mom’s original stove from the 40s! These stoves can still be obtained thru EBay and such. Be forewarned, these stoves weigh over 600 lbs, and need professional movers!

    Reply

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