Thursday, January 6, 2011

A simple spoon roast

At the start of every new year, I feel a need to simplify. Maybe it's a reaction to the excesses of the holidays. Or maybe it's just a practical way to begin another year. Less extraneous things and activities and distractions. Pared down.

So in keeping with my theme, this spoon roast* is prepared quite simply. Roasted dry in the oven for hours, it comes out pink and meltingly tender. I chose to rub it with olive oil and various seasonings. You could choose an even simpler kosher salt rub or salt, pepper, and oil. Whatever you'd like. Just season the roast the day before. Wrap it in cellophane and refrigerate.

I really was unsure about this. I'd never cooked a roast in the oven without any liquid. Maybe it would turn out to be a dried-up hunk o' meat.

Vegetarian friends, look away.

The meat was unbelievably tender and an even shade of dark pink all the way through. I was a bit nervous about feeding my littles such rare beef so I pan-seared their slices in a cast iron skillet with a bit of olive oil. Their more well-done slices were just as tender. A carnivore's delight.

A simple spoon roast
Gathered from many sources with special nods to and Mark Bittman

Spoon roast (mine was a bit under 4 lbs)
1/2 cup olive oil
1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
2 cloves garlic, crushed
1 bay leaf
1 small onion, thinly sliced
freshly ground black pepper

Salt and pepper roast to taste. Mix olive oil, vinegar, thyme, garlic, and bay leaf together. Slather generously over the entire roast. Wrap in cellophane and refrigerate for up to 24 hours.

Preheat oven to 300ºF. Place roast on rack in dutch oven or roasting pan. Layer onion slices over the top of the roast. Cook in oven for 5-6 minutes per pound. Turn down oven to 150ºF. Cook for 6 to 8 hours.

Now, I don't have a separate oven thermometer so I'm not sure how Agatha's oven behaves at 150ºF. However, after 6+ hours, the meat was only at 140º. Too low for us. So I cranked up the oven to 300ºF for another 20 minutes. Next time I do this recipe, I'll probably up the low roasting temperature to 175ºF.

The leftovers will make perfect sandwiches with a dollop of horseradish. Yum!

* "What is a spoon roast?" you may ask. My first answer is a cut of meat that was on sale at Whole Foods. After some research, my second, more informative answer is that a spoon roast is a marketing term for top sirloin (or top butt, top sirloin butt, or center-cut roast). Do the grocers interchange all of these names just to be confusing? I need a cow anatomy/terminology diagram, mapped out like a sixth-grade European geography lesson.


  1. I'm sure glad you explained, because I have never seen a 'spoon' cut of beef before! After we had a lousy and dry roast for Christmas dinner (was a prime-rib wanna-be cut that didn't even come close), I'm ready for something that looks as wonderful as this.

  2. Love that your great sense of humor overrides even the "prime-rib wanna-be" troubles. Now what was this poser faux prime rib? I want to avoid that cut!

  3. This looks do good. $5.99/lb. at WFoods this week.

  4. I found a 'spoon roast' in our local market, then found your recipe. I tried it yesterday--it was as wonderful as you said it would be! I did over-cook it a little, (because I didn't believe it would be cooked through enough) but it was still tender. My husband says I should use this for roast beef from now on instead of our usual eye round! Thanks!

  5. I'm so glad you enjoyed the roast! Thanks for sharing your story.


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