Meditations on Roast Beef

Gracie Allen’s Recipe for Roast Beef


1 large roast of beef

1 small roast of beef


Take the two roasts and put them in the oven. When the little one burns, the big one is done.

The bright and modern test kitchen at Nella Cucina on Bathurst was buzzing with excitement on Saturday morning as a group of Toronto’s most carnivorous and curious foodies, bloggers and chefs convened for a seminar concerning one of the most loved and yet taken for granted cuts of meat, the humble yet still dazzling roast beef.

Organized by Canada Beef Inc, the seminar chiefly revolved around the best ways to cook the iconic roast, discussed the differences between the different cuts of beef and served to educate the attendees about some of the myths that surround what is for many, the centerpiece of our collective consciousness when it comes to Sunday dinner.

Adroitly hosted by Heather Travis, Director of PR for Canada Beef, the 3-hour “meating” featured a cooking demonstration by Consumer Culinary Manager Joyce Parslow,  (“raised on a cat and cattle farm”!) who, balancing trustworthy ‘mother knows best’ demeanor with no-nonsense know-how, managed to have her audience eating out of the palm of her hand. It didn’t hurt to have attendees ascend the steps of the test kitchen to the wafting aroma of simmering pot roast and the sight of beef and cheese stuffed mini potatoes, minestrone soup, rosemary beef skewers with winter salad and beef pinwheels next to open bottles of red wine.

Joyce Parslow

After quickly inhaling the proffered h’ors d’oeuvres and imbibing of the hair of the dog, the group mustered its collective mustard and focused on the task at hand; cooking the perfect roast. Indeed, for one member of the group, who wishes to remain anonymous Gracie Allen’s recipe made total sense to me. Who amongst us has not tinkered with our methodology when it comes to roasting the beast within the oven?  And the results? Sometimes charred on the outside, raw in the middle, or –to my parents’ eminent satisfaction- cooked through and through to a marital and martial uniform grey.

Alas, are there no factories, are there no workhouses where experts convene and test and test again and come up with idiot-proof directions? Yes, there are, and the experts were on hand to guide us.

Here are four easy steps, courtesy of Canada Beef, that will give you a perfect roast:

1) Season the roast with salt and pepper. Place, fat side up on rack in shallow roasting pan. It is important to use a rack so the bottom of the roast doesn’t burn. Insert a meat thermometer into centre of the roast.

2) “Oven-sear” by placing uncovered roast in preheated oven (450°F /230°C) for ten minutes. If you are not around to turn down the temperature, you risky mouse, skip this step and roast at a constant 275 °F /140° C.  This is a good idea for less tender cuts (see “Tenderness rating” below”) and for roasts smaller than 1 kg /2 lbs.

3) Reduce heat to 275° F / 140° C. Cooked to desired doneness (see below) removing from oven when 5° F / 3 ° C below finished temperature. Note; bone-in may take 30-45 minutes longer and tenderloin may take 30-40 minutes less)

4) Cover with foil tent and let stand for at least 15 minutes. Roasts can stand 20-30 minutes before carving into thin slices.


Desired Doneness; estimated cooking time in hours

Weight:  Kg/ Lbs         Med-Rare (145 F/63 C)     Med to Well Done (160 F/71 C or higher)

1 /2                     1 ¾ to 2 ¼                                2 to 2 ½

1.5/3                   2 to 2 ½                                    2 ¼ to 2 3/4

2/4                       2 ¼ to 2 ¾                               2 ½ to 3

2.5/5.5                   2 ½ to 3                                   2 ¾ to 3 1/4



Tenderness rating of roasts


* * * * *    Tenderloin, Rib, Rib-eye, Strip Loin, Top Sirloin, Prime Rib


* * *           Sirloin Tip, Tri-tip, Rump


* *              Outside Round, Inside round, Eye of Round

Sometimes you just want to whip out the Dutch Oven and make a pot roast, especially if you are…thrifty, lazy and have a less than tender cut of meat. Here is a photo of one made that day, a Tri-tip roast slow cooked for four hours, served with rosemary and a puree of cauliflower.


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