NOTE: An updated version of this recipe appears in my cookbook, The Ancestral Table.
Eye of round is a pretty intimidating piece of beef. It’s an extremely lean cut taken from the hindquarters of the cow, which gets a lot of exercise. To be honest, I usually just use the eye of round roast to make jerky (along with london broil, which is also from the same area of the cow) because making steaks and roasts with this part of the cow is usually always a gamble.
The other day I stumbled upon a recipe that seemed both crazy and intriguing; you roast the meat at a high temperature for a while, and then you turn off the oven and leave it in there for 2 1/2 hours. The end result is something like prime rib – a dark, crusty outside with a juicy, pink, tender inside. Honestly, it makes this fairly inexpensive cut of meat taste about 100x better than what you paid for. I may never cook an eye of round roast any other way for the rest of my life!
adapted from All Recipes
Eye of Round Roast (2-8 lbs. preferred, we used a 3 lb. roast)
1 tsp kosher salt
1 tsp black pepper (coarse-ground preferred)
1/2 tsp dried thyme
4-6 cloves garlic, chopped finely
Mix together your seasonings and set them aside.
Take out your roast, rinse it and pat dry with paper towels. Rub the seasonings all over the roast, and let it sit out on the kitchen counter for 30 minutes. This allows the roast to reach room temperature, plus it lets the seasonings settle onto the roast. Preheat your oven to 500 degrees.
Place the roast in a roasting pan or dutch oven and put it in the oven, fatty side up. Roast at 500 degrees, uncovered, for 7 minutes per pound. Our roast was a little over three pounds, so I cooked it for 25 minutes.
Now comes the part that goes against everything I’ve ever done in the kitchen – turn off the oven completely and leave the roast in there for 2 1/2 hours. Don’t open the oven door at all during this time! Go watch a movie or something.
After 2 1/2 hours, take the roast out and check its internal temp with an instant read thermometer. The temperature should be between 130-150 degrees. Put the finished roast on a plate and cover it with tin foil, and allow it to rest for 10 minutes.
Carve it into 1/2″ slices and enjoy!
As a quick reference, here are the standard temperature/doneness levels for roasts:
120°F to 125°F, (49°C to 52°C) = Rare
130°F to 140°F (55°C to 60°C) = Medium Rare
145°F to 150°F (63°C to 66°C) = Medium
Update: based on the huge amount of great feedback in the comments below, here are some tips:
– Gas ovens sometimes don’t retain heat well, so to be safe, during the 2.5-hour “off” period, maybe keep your heat at the oven’s lowest setting (probably 170) and check it after one hour (and every 30 minutes after that) for doneness. Because you have the heat going, I give you permission to open your oven door!
– If this is your first time making this dish, consider doing the 170-degree method above just to be safe..
– You can use a roasting thermometer (the kind that stay in the roast while cooking), but bear in mind that because it’s metal, it will conduct heat possibly overcook the roast. Trust the process!
– Some people have thrown in potatoes and root vegetables in with the roast and they’ve come out tasty, and other people have used the pan drippings (if there are any) to make a pan sauce for the roast.
– If you are making this dish to impress some dinner guests PLEASE try it in your own oven first! This is a very simple and nearly-foolproof recipe, but there is still a lot of variation in ovens, altitudes, etc. I don’t want to feel responsible for a ruined dinner party :)