An incredible roast beef sirloin cooked at incredibly low temperature - you don't need the sous-vide gear for a similar result.
Tech is killing cheffy skills
A lot of people argue that technology is killing skills and arts: of doing research, remembering things, handwriting and assessing when a meat joint is cooked simply by looking/touching/smelling.
I might have exaggerated slightly the last bit, but no question a digital probe, oven thermometer and above all an electric oven that keeps temperature at a constant all help produce perfectly roasted meat. There are no excuses any more for sad shrunken charcoaled topsides or partly raw turkeys.
Ovens think for you
Some clever ovens even do it for you: enter your meat weight etc. and out it pops perfect after a while – allegedly. I don’t trust the auto programmes enough to try them out but that’s just me – old-school cookery snob.
How to test meat doneness?
Not that I’m so old-school-skilled: I tried the famous base-of-thumb steak test and could tell no difference between my palm and the bit of cow on the skillet – either we both were dead or I’m useless like that.
I usually depend on timing rather than smell/touch but even that does sometimes let me down: the beef being a tough old boot or bad mojo. Of course there are many other factors in play: the quality of meat being undeniably the most decisive.
What is low temperature cooking about?
But with the techie assistance you are also able to reach new heights of excellence, low temperature cooking being one of them. The lucky ones, who have been fed sous-vide cooked meats and loved them, rejoice: low temp is pretty much like sous-vide without the palaver, water baths and the expensive kit.
It is crucial to sear the joint before roasting: unless you’re a fan of bland and pale and don’t give a stuff for Maillard’s reaction, the mouth-watering effect of caramelisation. The meat is cooked fantastically evenly throughout; it works for beef, lamb and even pork loin.
There’s no need to rest it as it doesn’t shrink and expand, releasing juices. The downside is no gravy, but that can always be cooked separately from scratch.
So how to roast the best beef?
The caveat: abandon all hope if you don’t own a digital probe of some kind. I wouldn’t attempt to try and time low temperature cooking as related to weight: I simply can’t afford to waste so much good beef for testing. But even internet failed me there – the best resource for low temperature cooking is Donald Russel and even they insist a thermometer is a must.
Well, all I can say is: get yourself one. Most are not hugely expensive and work well, with the in-oven ones being a bit more fickle. Buy one and try it out on low temp roasts – you’ll thank me.