Trendy items such as bistro steaks go in and out of fashion over the years, but a simple roast always provides a comforting, old-fashioned meal. Your butcher's showcase has roasts from several portions of the steer, varying widely in flavor, tenderness and -- as always -- price. Sirloin roasts represent an excellent value for family meals. They're relatively tender, usually affordable, and they cook easily enough for even an unskilled cook.
1. Sirloin Roasts
Sirloins are found toward the rear of a beef steer, the area between where the backbone meets the animal's hip. They're not as tender as the loin cuts or as chewy as the rump and round cuts, but offer a good compromise between the two. The three common sirloin roasts are usually called the sirloin tip, the sirloin tip center, and tri-tip roast. All three are relatively compact, and well-suited to make a meal for a small family. The tri-tip is the most tender of the three, but you can cook all using similar methods.
2. Pre-Seasoning Your Roast
Your roast will be particularly flavorful if you rub it with seasonings or marinate it overnight before roasting it. A dry rub with your favorite spices, or a paste made with mustard or other flavorful ingredients, will give the finished roast an intensely tasty surface. Cooks are generally divided on the subject of salting before cooking. Some argue that it draws out moisture, leaving your roast dry. Others claim the salt helps other flavors absorb into the meat. In either case, the effect is largely confined to the roast's surface, so feel free to experiment.
3. Browning and Final Seasoning
For a moist, tender toast, you should cook it slowly at a low temperature. The problem with that is that much of the pleasure of a roast comes from the deep, complex flavors of well-browned beef -- and that requires high-heat cooking. Sirloin roasts are small enough that you can compromise by searing your beef on the stovetop before roasting it. Pat the roast dry, and heat a large, heavy skillet until it's very hot. Sear the roast until it's well browned on all sides, then transfer it to your roasting pan. Season it with salt, pepper, garlic or other herbs and spices, if you opted not to pre-season the beef overnight.
Roast your sirloin in a preheated oven at 325 degrees Fahrenheit, until the internal temperature reaches 145 degrees F, or medium-rare, for safety. Let it rest for 3 minutes before slicing. During the rest time, the temperature remains constant or continues to rise, which destroys harmful germs. Sirloin roasts are most tender when sliced thinly at that medium-rare stage, but you can cook it longer if you prefer. Tri-tip is a flatter, more tender roast -- so you have the option of skipping the searing step and roasting it at 375 or 400 degrees F until it reaches your preferred level of doneness.
- On Food and Cooking: The Science and Lore of the Kitchen; Harold McGee
- Professional Cooking; Wayne Gisslen
- Beef -- It's What's for Dinner: Interactive Meat Case
- The Healthy Butcher: Ultimate Roasting Chart
- FDA: Safe Eats - Meat, Poultry & Seafood
- Foodsafety.gov: Safe Minimum Cooking Temperatures
- Jupiterimages/Comstock/Getty Images