A plate of food

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.

A plate of food, with Beef and Roasting pan

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

1. Make sure you have a good oven proof meat thermometer and an oven thermometer. Exact temperatures are the secret.

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

3. Place inside a roasting pan, uncovered.

4. Insert meat thermometer into the thickest part of the roast.

5. Preheat oven to exactly 250 F using an oven thermometer, not relying on the one that is built into the oven. This is critical.

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

7. Remove from oven, wrap it in foil and allow 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 finish 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. Then wrap it in plastic wrap, put it back into the fridge. Take the roast out of the fridge about two hours ahead 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, carve it across the grain and enjoy!

Oven and Beef

Let me know how comes 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!

A piece of cake sitting on top of a table
chicken with homemade teriyaki sauce
Iced coffee in a tall glass
apple pie in cast iron skillet
a plate of dump chicken with rice and vegetables.
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7 replies
  1. Nata says:

    Hi, Mary
    Would you please reprint the article titled From Chuck Roast to Prime Rib in Three Hours Flat?
    I know it originated in a 2008 issue of Cook’s Illustrated. I subscribe to Cook’s Illustrated, but for some reason, the site won’t let me access it without subscribing. Which, as I mentioned, I already do.
    I would be very grateful.

  2. chadbag says:

    This is even easier with a sous vide device like the Anova or Nomiku or others. Just put it in the water bath at 130-132F and cook for 24-48 hours… No need to try and get an exact temperature in an oven and keep it there. (You can cook it for 4-6 hours but the longer cooking of a cheap cut like chuck roast helps the connective tissues break down and makes it a lot better). Just sear it in a pan for minute or two after cooking in the water bath in a bag with the air removed.

  3. Amena Collins says:

    I just wanted to say that your post was just what I needed! I was making these sliders…http://www.wellplated.com/steak-sandwich-recipe/ but I had about a pound of boneless chuck shoulder roast in the freezer that I wanted to use up. Man was I impressed. I actually did not have time to do the overnight salting so I liberally seasoned both sides and seared it off before popping into the oven at 250 for about an hour and a half. SO EASY AND SO PERFECT MED RARE! Thank you, thank you!

  4. Robyn Yahola says:

    My husband has high blood pressure, so I’m concerned about using the salt. Could I use a salt-free meat tenderizer instead?

  5. Pam says:

    Your original post didn’t say anything about the salting and wrapping in plastic.
    It seems like this would be a pretty important step. How much salt would you say you use?


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