Start to finish: 2 hours 45 minutes, plus 48 hours to marinate Servings: 10
We challenged ourselves to transform a thrifty, low-cost cut of beef into a lush, celebratory meal. The answer was eye round, a roast often deemed too lean to be tender. The cut is taken from the hind leg of a steer, so there’s little marbling, the usual key to keeping meat moist. To roast this tough cut and get succulent, perfectly cooked results, we marinated the meat in ingredients that would do the work for us. We started with a sticky, sweet puree of prunes.
That may sound unusual, but prunes are high in hygroscopic sorbitol and fructose, which—along with salt and soy sauce—amplify the way the meat absorbs flavor. The puree also adhered well to the roast, promoting moisture retention and a caramelized crust without the trouble of browning. Ketchup and anchovies added rich umami, while rosemary, thyme and black peppercorns brought an herbal kick. To boost the marinade’s effect, we poked the roast repeatedly with a fork. The roast beef tasted best after marinating for 48 hours, but 24 will work.
Don’t check the roast too frequently. A succulent roast relied on even cooking at a low temperature; opening the oven door interrupted that process.
8 ounces pitted prunes (about 1½ cups)
½ cup soy sauce
¼ cup ketchup
3 tablespoons kosher salt
2 tablespoons black peppercorns
2 tablespoons chopped fresh rosemary
2 tablespoons fresh thyme leaves
3 oil-packed anchovy fillets
5- to 6-pound beef eye round roast, trimmed
Fresh horseradish sauce, (see sidebar) to serve (optional)
1. In a food processor, blend the prunes, soy sauce, ketchup, salt, peppercorns, rosemary,rosemary, thyme and anchovies until smooth, about 1 minute. Transfer to a 2-gallon zip-close bag. Poke the roast all over with a fork, then place in the bag. Turn to coat, then refrigerate for 48 hours.
2. Heat the oven to 275ºF with a rack in the middle position. Set a wire rack in a rimmed baking sheet. Remove the roast from the bag and transfer to the rack. Discard the marinade in the bag and evenly brush any marinade sticking to the roast’s surface. Roast until the meat registers 125ºF, 1 hour 45 minutes to 2 hours.
3. Transfer the roast to a carving board, tent loosely with foil and let rest for 30 minutes. Thinly slice and serve with fresh horseradish sauce, if desired.