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Learn how to cook lean, flavorful roast beef with these tips from Mad Delicious author Keith Schroeder.
Making Your Own Roast Beef
Deli-counter roast beef is often laden with salt, and the flavor of the meat gets lost in briny translation. In the main recipe here, bold ingredients blanket the exterior of a lean but flavorful cut—eye of round. You'll get a spice-rubbed, almost charred flavor that highlights rather than overwhelms the sandwich. The variation is a spruced-up beef tenderloin for ritzy, open-faced presentations—ideal for parties.
A high-temperature start forms a good-looking crust, while the lower temperature taper allows an edge-to-edge, rosy eye that will delight fans of a straight-ahead roast beef on rye. Be sure to use a probe thermometer rather than relying on time references alone, which are merely guidelines. The flatter the roast, the quicker it will cook. Find one with a consistent diameter for the most even result.
Step 1: Give It a Rub
Spread the coffee-spice mixture on the roast, massaging it into the meat.
Step 2: Be Patient
Wrap the cooked, cooled roast, and chill it overnight for a big flavor payoff.
Step 3: Think Shavings
Slice the lean roast as thinly as you can for the most tender bites.
Recipe Variation: Mustard-Tarragon Beef Tenderloin
Chilling the meat overnight and slicing it thinly the next day gives the rub more time to flavor the meat. This is a great make-ahead dish for parties; serve on toasted baguette with horseradish sauce and arugula. Not only is this a surefire way to impress your guests, it's a simple appetizer that everyone will love.
Making Your Own Deli Meats At Home: Equal Parts Simple And DeliciousMake Your Own Deli Meats At Home
Food Republic’s column Ask Your Butcher seeks to answer FAQs in the world of butchery. Ethically minded butcher Bryan Mayer founded Philadelphia’s Kensington Quarters and helped develop a renowned butcher-training program at Brooklyn’s Fleisher’s. Today, he consults with farmers, chefs, butchers and anyone else who will listen. In each column, Mayer tackles a pressing issue facing both meat buyers and home cooks. Here, he explores making deli meats at home.
I’ve always found a certain amount of catharsis in making a sandwich. Firstly, there’s choosing the type of bread: perhaps a brioche or challah, to balance the saltiness of the meat, if any. Or, maybe a sfilatino, my personal favorite for a panino. Then there are your olive oil-based breads, like focaccia and ciabatta, sourdoughs, whole grains and, yes, even wraps.
Why single out wraps? Back in 2006, a Massachusetts court heard a case that determined the legal definition of a wrap. Panera Bread, which had been granted exclusivity over all things sandwich at a suburban mall, charged that an encroaching Qdoba — with its signature burritos — was, in fact, serving sandwiches. A quick look at Webster’s Dictionary and a few expert witnesses later, and the judge ruled in favor of Qdoba. However, The Oxford Encyclopedia of Food and Drink in America calls wraps “sandwiches” and so does Wikipedia. So that settles it for me. I’m going with a wrap being a sandwich. (Feel free to use that little story at your next dinner party.)
But I digress. What are we putting between (or inside) that bread? Meat! Okay, veggies too, and sometimes only veggies. I could eat a falafel from Aba’s every day. Whether it’s a muffuletta from Cochon in New Orleans, stacked high with cured pork and beef, or a simple beef salami-and-bologna sandwich from Montreal’s Wilensky’s, however, meat is at the center of a great sandwich. So as summer comes to an end and you’re set to head back to school or spend more time at the office while trying to save a little extra cash, why not seriously up your sandwich game and make your own deli meats?
While there are a few examples out there of decently sourced (and somewhat healthily prepared) ready-to-eat deli meats, most leave a lot to be desired. Whether composed from animals raised in less-than-idealistic conditions or pumped full of water and unnecessary ingredients, why not take the same agency over your sandwich as you do over your burger? Making your own deli meats requires little more than buying a great hunk of meat and cooking it. Sure, there’s the prep time of making a sandwich, but while all your coworkers are waiting in line at whatever the next sandwich hotness is, you’ll actually get to enjoy your lunch break.
Let’s start by talking about equipment needs. Before you run out to your local restaurant equipment store, there are a couple of hacks that might work for you. The simplest and easiest is a sharp knife. Now, you won’t get those paper-thin slices that you can read through, but sometimes you want a little something to sink your teeth into, especially with corned beef. Of course, you’ll have to maintain that razor-sharp edge, and that requires either more equipment or a great knife shop.
Here’s hack number two: I’m sure many of you have a mandoline. Yes, that torture device created with the sole purpose of slicing off bits of your fingertips while you make homemade potato chips. (Homemade chips, by the way, are a great accompaniment to your homemade deli meats severed fingertips, not so much.) With a little forethought, this device can be repurposed as a makeshift meat slicer. All that’s needed is a bit of par-freezing for a couple of hours and your meat should be stiff enough to get some fairly thin slices. Not satisfied with these options? A meat slicer it is! I recommend something small, lightweight and somewhat inexpensive. Remember that you’re not Katz’s and are not churning out 1,000 sandwiches a day. You can get a slicer from LEM, maker of home processing and sausage-making equipment, for less than $100. I’ve used LEM products for years and have always been satisfied.
How to Make Deli-Style Roast Beef - Recipes
- Tenderness - Two enzymes that break meat down in to tender, flavorful bits are most active at warmer temperatures up to 105°f (calpains) and 120°f (cathepsins) per McGee (144). The sous vide warm water cooking will hold the meat in that high enzyme activity window for much longer than the less than 1 hour that the reverse sear would.
- Pasteurization - By holding meat at lower, steady temps for longer periods of time, sous vide effectively pasteurizes the meat. Holding the meat at temp for those extended hours gives me a level of personal comfort, knowing that the food is safe and how it was handled. That's especially important since I want this lunch meat to last for several days and microbes bring spoilage. Read more.
I seasoned the roast heavily, about 2-3 tablespoons.
I vacuum sealed this and let it dry brine in the refrigerator for 24 hours.
We made roast beef sandwiches with El Diablo mustard and horseradish that couldn't be beat.
I didn't write down the bacon Swiss soup recipe but it was stock based. Here's the short version if you want to make something like it. Mirepoix sauteed in butter, seasoned with salt and pepper, and flour added for a roux. Whisked in 3 cups of chicken stock and then simmered for 30 minutes. Smoothed it out an immersion blender. Then I added dried thyme leaves, some spicy mustard, and tasted for seasoning, adding a little salt and pepper. Then I added about a cup of quality Swiss cheese, stirring until blended. We serve it with a dollop of sour cream and crumbled bacon.
- The Rotary Club has announced that they will not be putting on the Rocky Top BBQ contest that Knoxville has hosted for the past 3 years. in Sevierville will NOT be on the same weekend as Memphis In May this year which is awesome because I have hating choosing one or the other in the past. , a KCBS event that raises funds for The Butterfly Fund, will be held again in Knoxville on the beautiful grounds of the The Pavillion Event Center at Hunter Valley Farms.
- The Big BBQ Bash in Maryville TN, a personal favorite of mine, will be held the weekend of June 24-25.
Good post on making lunch meat. I am looking to try this in a couple of weeks but I was wondering how long would the lunch meat be good for (
1 week? more?) Also, the eye of round you show looked very light in color I would have expected it to be a darker red. Is that just because of the angle of the picture or is it supposed to be that way.
Love your site and find all of your posts to be very informative and helpful!
Hi Rick. That is a combination of things. First, yes, the eye of round is paler than a lot of other beef cuts. If you look at the second picture, you can see how pale it is, even when raw. Second, since I was doing this for lunch meat, I took it to an internal temp of 137°f which takes away some of the color too. It would be a lot more red at 125°f which is where I could cook it if eating right away. Third, it's also partially lighting in the sliced picture. I had to lighten up some shadows in that picture.
Great question but I don't have an exact #of days. Remember that the enemy making meat go bad is pathogens, oxygen, and light. We keep out about 1.5 pounds that we will eat in a week. Everything else, we vacuum seal in bags which makes it last longer or you can freeze it.
Homemade Deli-Style Roast Beef
Roast beef sandwiches are probably my favorite deli meat. Between the sodium, limited range, and variety it’s not something I chose to eat often. That is until I started making it at home. Sandwiches are a great convenience and can help you make a meal in 3 minutes flat.
I love having the options around so I started making meats or all variety at home. Smoked turkey, lemon pepper chicken, and honey ham just to name a few. Making the meats at home allows for a few things. I can marinate them and rub them with any spices of my choosing. I can roast them to my preferred doneness and possibly make dipped sandwiches with a quick jus. And most importantly I don’t have to worry about it being injected with saltwater and whatever else. Because the sodium is always through the roof!
I’ve taken my passion so far as to get a machine deli slicer so that I can make perfect sandwiches at home. Don’t worry if you don’t have one the same can be achieved with a super sharp knife. just be sure to check out my tips and tricks below to help you along the way. Try this recipe out and let me know what you think.
TIPS & TRICKS FOR THE BEST ROAST BEEF SANDWICHES:
marinades: the great thing about making your own deli meat at home is the amazing flavors you can make. I like to use a dry rub seasoning that way it adds great flavor but doesn’t break down the texture of the meat like a wet marinade would. and it keeps it drier to form a nice crisp crust on the outside.
roast under: for my roast beef sandwiches I love that I can choose the temperature by making them at home. you can have your roast beef as rare or as cooked as you like. I prefer not to roast the beef all the way well when I’m making it for sandwiches so that it has a nicer shave to it.
let the meat rest: roast beef is a do-ahead dish. it has a short cook time but a long wait time. you want to let you roast sit till it to room temperature then roll it tightly in plastic wrap and chill it. that way whether you’re using a deli slicer or sharp knife it lets it cut your meat super thin.
knife or deli slicer: to achieve super shaved beef i used a deli slicer. similar to the one you’d seen in a deli but scaled back. the deli slicer keeps the slices consistent and it does it really fast. but you can achieve deli-sliced meats at home all you need is a little patience. to achieve this you need to see the tip above and let it rest. resting meat allows for the juices to redistribute and firm up. but you don’t stop there chilling the meat allows for it to stiffen even further and hold its shape longer than if it was hot. also, a super sharp knife helps the shaving process.
make it a platter: make it a spread for everyone to build their own! make a deconstructed salad bar for toppings with red or bib lettuce, sliced tomatoes, onions, peppers, and olives. Fill up some cups for some classic condiments like mayo and spicy mustard. Lay out some bread and it’s ready to serve!
- Meat ready for deli-slicer
- Meat sliced and ready for sandwich
When slicing with the deli-slicer, it is best to chill completely in the fridge beforehand. Most importantly, it gives a firmer cut on the blade when cutting thin slices. Finally, cut the meat with a sharp slicing knife if you don’t have a meat slicer as I have here * . I’ve had this slicer for about 10 years and it is more than adequate for my needs and also washes up easily. Generally cutting to about an 1/8″ produces approximately 50 slices on a cooked roast that is 7″ in length.
Low sodium-roast beef on a platter
Store slices in an airtight container in the fridge if using within a week. You may also freeze them with a piece of wax paper in between sandwich portions and use within a month or two as well. Although mine never last nearly that long!
My sandwich below is made with low sodium deli-style sliced roast beef. And even with the addition of Lo-So bread, NSA mustard, onion and fresh cracked pepper it lets you enjoy this meal whenever you want. Having less than 200 mg sodium and being low fat, keeps it to a much more reasonable level.
Roast beef on low sodium bread and mayonnaise
As always, please let me know how you like this recipe in the comments! I get motivated when I hear from you and am interested to learn about how you liked and served your Low Sodium Deli Style Roast Beef. And please leave a comment or rating and share any tips you might have.
What is that sign — Hat, side of beef or oven mitt? We’ll tell you in a moment. But first, a little background to explain…
In 1949 a young fellow in Youngstown, Ohio named Forrest Raffel teamed up with his even younger brother named Leroy to buy out their uncle’s restaurant equipment business.
While working on designing and building other restaurants the brothers saw a need in the market for an upscale, non-hamburger fast food chain. They figured also that roasted beef sandwiches would a good thing to sell in their new restaurant.
For a name they took the first two letters of Raffel Brothers (RB) to and came up with Arby’s.
ADThe First Arby’s Roast Beef
The first Arby’s opened in 1964 in Boardman, Ohio. This first restaurant had a “chuckwagon-style” design with a natural wood and stone decor and a giant 10-gallon hat for a sign.
On the original menu was their roast beef sandwiches for 69 cents, potato chips and iced tea.
Arby’s was an almost immediate success despite charging quite a bit more than other fast food restaurants at the time and within a year of opening the brothers franchised their first operation.
Royal Crown Cola (RC) Company of Atlanta, Georgia, purchased the Arby’s business in 1976 and started expanding overseas with the first Arby’s opening in Tokyo in 1981.
DIY Deli Meats: 9 Recipes to Make at Home
Don’t like those plastic-packaged, mass-produced logs of deli meat that they sell at the grocery stores? Me neither. I’m thinking of trying my hand at some deli-style roast beef or even homemade bologna, starting with these recipes.
1. Perfect Roast Beef from Saveur – This slow-cooked roast beef seems like one of the easiest ways to ease into making our own deli meat.
2. Weekend Pot Roast from The Kitchn – This crock-pot version of roast beef is an even easier way to make your own sandwich meat.
3. Paté de Campagne from Bon Appétit – Traditionally served as an appetizer, this paté would also make an excellent sandwich spread.
4. Duck Prosciutto from Michael Ruhlman – Based on his recipe from Ratio, using duck breasts is a less labor- and time-intensive way of play with homemade prosciutto.
5. Big Daddy’s Homemade Pastrami from The Food Network – A good recipe to make on a lazy Sunday afternoon, and we’d enjoy it all week long!
6. Homemade Salami from Just a Pinch – This isn’t cured for long storage like traditional salami, but we have no doubt it makes a mean sandwich.
7. Homemade Chicken “Ham” from Just Bento – A very interesting Japanese cooking method gives chicken a similar texture to cold-cut deli meat.
8. Real Homemade Bologna from All Recipes – This recipe sounds closer to salami than the bologna we see in the cases, but delicious all the same.
9. Baked Country Ham from Leite’s Culinaria – And finally, thin-sliced ham the way it should be.
My name is Jaxx. I'm an amateur everything. I like to cook, I like to eat, I like to hike, I like to eat while I hike. I'm always getting into something and I'm gonna share it with you.
My primary purpose for this roast is to make cold roast beef sandwiches, so we want a roast that does not have a lot of fat.
On the other hand, a roast served hot needs plenty of marbling so that the fat melts and bastes the meat. Roast beef sandwiches work better made from a leaner cut. For this recipe, I decided to go with a top round. It is economical, and has just the right ratio of fat-to-beef, to pull off a good cold beef sandwich.
Another thing is that you do not want a cut of beef that is so tender it falls apart. And a top round has just enough of a “bite” to keep it together.
Homemade Deli Style Roast Beef
You guys have totally probably not realized this yet, but I&rsquom sort of weird.
I know, it&rsquos shocking. I seem so normal here on the blog. (Just indulge me, okay?)
The truth is, I&rsquom a freak. Especially about food.
If I think too hard about certain foods, I can not eat them. Eggs, for example, are pretty disgusting if you think about what they actually are. There was an episode of Dexter a couple of years ago where his girlfriend/kill partner for the week explained in horrific scientific detail what an egg actually was to Dexter&rsquos step-daughter. I&rsquom sorry, but when the scariest part of a serial killer television show is the science lesson on eggs? Not okay.
Also, chorizo. It tastes so good! Do you know what it&rsquos made of? Do you? It&rsquos nightmare inducing, you guys.
How about deli meat? It creeps me out so bad. It&rsquos meat chunks that have been chopped up and then reformed and glued back together into a normal-ish meat shape. Why not just leave it meat shaped and slice it thin? WHY, I ask you!
I can actually answer that question, if you&rsquod like. They do that so they can use cheaper meat cuts, add all kinds of weird additives, and preserve the heck out of the meat with nitrates and nitrites. I&rsquom not a nitrate/nitrite fan. Nitrates and ntirites? Taste like cancer. Okay, so maybe the don&rsquot taste like it, but they should, considering that consuming nitrites/nitrates leads to an increased risk of cancer.
So, I started making my own deli meat. I&rsquom all Susie Homemaker up in here. You can be, too!
Buy a roast or a turkey breast, season it, roast it, slice it thin. It&rsquos deli meat, not deli &ldquomeat.&rdquo
So easy and tastier than the processed crap you get at the deli counter!
Big Kitchen was kind enough to send me a food slicer and things are even easier now. I can whip out a pound or two of roast beef in no time at all! You can make this recipe and just slice it with a very sharp knife as thinly as possible, but I do love my food slicer! It certainly makes things simpler and quicker.
Did I mention that I also like the price of actual, real meat better than the processed kind in the deli section? I paid about $3 a pound for this roast beef, compared to the $7-8 per pound of the deli roast beef.