Roast beef is one of those dishes that’s virtually impossible to cook to perfection but not because of the degree of difficulty! In fact, roast beef is quite easy to cook. What’s difficult to satisfy are individual tastes because some people like it very rare and some like it very well-done, making it hard to cook a roast beef to suit everyone’s personal preferences. I find however, that if you cook it to a medium-rare centre temperature of 60-63C (140-145F) it will continue to cook after it’s been removed from the oven to a perfect medium which is cooked well on the outside and perfectly pink and very juicy on the inside; between “À point” and “Cuit” which everyone can enjoy.
In order to prepare your idea of perfect roast beef in the Fornetto, here’s a guide to internal temperatures according to doneness. Always bear in mind that when the roast is removed from the oven it will continue to cook toward the centre of the meat. If you won’t be serving it immediately but will be allowing it to rest before serving (which I suggest as this allows for the juices in the meat to redistribute throughout the roast), be sure to lower the temperatures by approximately 3-5 degrees centigrade for each level of doneness as it will cook to your preference while it rests (for a minimum of 10 minutes, tented under foil).
Internal temperatures for beef doneness:
- Rare: 52-60C (125-140F)*
- Medium rare: 60-63C (140-145F)*
- Medium: 63-67C (145-153F)*
- Medium well: 67-71C(153-160F)*
- Well-done: 71C (160-170F)*
As a rule of thumb, it’s pretty safe to say that roast beef cooks to the desired doneness by cooking it at 180C (355F) for 20 minutes per 450gr (1lb) plus 20 extra minutes for rare, 25 minutes per 450gr (1lb) plus 25 extra minutes for medium and 30 minutes per 450gr (1lb) plus 30 extra minutes for well-done. I suggest however, that you use a digital thermometer for the best results as roasts are variable and will cook at different speeds depending on the cut, size and shape. If you are making a bone-in roast, keep the thermometer away from the bone as it conducts heat and will give you a false reading.
For the roast as I’ve prepared it here, the following is your shopping list. A 2kg (4.4lbs) boneless beef roast, 2 eggplants, 2 onions, 2 red bell peppers (capsicums), 450g (1 lb) new potatoes, flat leaf parsley, 2 cloves of garlic, extra virgin olive oil, black pepper, crushed red chilies and salt to taste.
Begin by washing all the vegetables and peel the new potatoes (if you wish) and the eggplant. Cut the eggplant and peppers into strips of about 1 cm (0.4″) wide and slice the onion into rings. Reserve about a quarter of each of the vegetables except for the potatoes for the next step. Mix the remaining vegetables with a good amount of olive oil, about 3 tablespoons and salt them generously.
With the extra vegetables you reserved from the first step, chop them into small cubes. Add to the them two cloves of garlic, about 1 tablespoon of finely chopped and well-packed flat leaf parsley, crushed red pepper (to add the degree of spiciness you like), a drizzling of olive oil and salt and pepper to taste. Using a mortar and pestle, crush everything together until you have a very coarse mixture. Do not blend it into a paste.
No matter what size roast you purchase, you can always be sure of its doneness by the internal temperature in the middle. If you have a good butcher, or are handy in the kitchen, I suggest buying or preparing a roast that’s wrapped in fat and that has been strung together with kitchen twine. In general, roast beef is usually quite lean and the fat protects it while it cooks and keeps it from drying out. If you look very closely between the beef and the fat, I rolled the roast in finely cracked black pepper before tying the strips of fat to it. This will add lots of peppery flavour to the meat as it cooks. With the spicy mixture we’ve made, apply a stripe along the top of the roast. As the roast cooks and as the mixture warms, it will mix and flavour the fat that will baste the roast as it slowly melts down its sides. Don’t concern yourself with the mixture burning as it will be discarded along with the twine and fat before serving.
In a roasting dish, similar to the Fornetto one above, place the roast in the centre of the dish and pack all of the vegetables in tightly. Don’t worry if it appears as though you have too many. They will all end up fitting as the whole thing cooks and the vegetables begin to fall. Preheat the Fornetto to 180C (355F) and place a rack into the oven so that the roast is centred.
What’s great about digital thermometers is that you can leave them in the roast as it cooks and you’ll be notified when the centre has reached the temperature you’ve programmed. Having programmed my roast for medium-rare, after allowing it to rest for 10 minutes, the result was a perfect medium with a juicy, pink centre.
Remove the roast when it comes to temperature and tent it with aluminium foil. I also place a dry towel over the top of the foil to keep the heat in and allow the roast to come to the degree of doneness I’m targeting.
Unlike a steak, slice roast beef thinly as it’s best served that way and creates lots of surface area for the gravy. Be sure to remove the twine and fat from the outside of the roast before serving.
Serve the roast with a generous helping of the potatoes and vegetables that roasted alongside it. You’ll notice that when preparing a roast in this manner, with vegetables such a those that we used here, they will give off lots of delicious liquid that’s ideal to spoon over top. Save all the leftovers as the meat is very tasty cooked this way and makes excellent unconventional roast beef, veggie and (spicy) pickled pepper sandwiches which are great to take to school or work for lunch with some of the potatoes on the side.
You’re in for a treat. Enjoy!
*The cooking temperatures in this post are based on cooking techniques for optimum doneness for fresh beef. If you are concerned with food-borne illnesses, health authorities recommend a minimum of 63C (145F) which was done here for medium doneness for completely safe consumption.