How To Make Your Eye Of Round Roast More Flavorful

It's unlikely you'll find anyone willing to claim their favorite cut of beef is eye of round, which came in at dead last in our ranking of them. Even the Beef Board has described eye of round as looking deceptively like tenderloin but far less tender. In fact, The Splendid Table went so far as to deem eye of round "unredeemable" for its tough chew and bland taste. 

But is eye of round really unredeemable? We don't think so. For one thing, eye of round is one of the more budget-friendly cuts of beef, according to the Beef Board, with the steak cut offering "tremendous value. Lean and boneless, it's ideal for grilling, as long as it's marinated first. As for the eye of round roast cut, did you know that this is what you're actually getting when you order sliced roast beef at the deli? 

The reason eye of round gets such a bad rap is that it's cut from the rump and hind legs, both of which are used extensively for movement. According to Iowa State University Extension and Outreach's Answer Line, the more exercise a muscle gets, the less tender the meat will be — but that's only a starting point. As the Answer Line also pointed out, less tender cuts of meat, such as eye of round, can be wonderfully flavorful when cooked properly. So the question becomes how to make your eye of round roast more flavorful?

For the most flavorful eye of round roast, start by browning it

According to Iowa State University Extension and Outreach's Answer Line, less-tender cuts of beef need to be cooked "low and slow," which is to say, over low heat and for a long time. However, the low and slow cooking method begins with browning the meat in a searing-hot pan, ideally cast iron, which gets hotter than other types of pans, according to Cooking Issues

The idea is to cultivate the Maillard reaction, which is a chemical reaction that occurs when high heat is applied quickly to the surface of food, transforming the proteins and sugars that are present into a crusty, nutty state of deliciousness. For an eye of round roast, which is cylindrical in shape, this requires exposing all sides to the high heat, but it only takes a few moments. Any more and you run the risk of starting to cook the underlying meat.

The lowest and slowest eye of round roast is made in a water bath

The method of cooking that will give you the most tender and flavorful eye of round roast is called "sous vide," which means "under vacuum" and refers to placing your browned meat in a sealed plastic bag (a Ziploc is fine for this, according to the team at Martha Stewart). Then it requires many hours of being immersed in water that has been heated to a precise temperature, which in the case of eye of round, is 131 degrees Fahrenheit, according to Anova Culinary. To make certain your water is at the correct temperature, you'll need a thermometer (unless you have a sous vide immersion heater, which you set to the desired temperature).

Before you seal your plastic bag, toss in some salt and pepper and any other seasonings you might like such as sliced fresh garlic, some herbs such as thyme, rosemary, and parsley, a half-cup of wine and/or beef stock, and perhaps a spoonful or two of mustard. Place the plastic bag containing the roast into a pot of water big enough so that the roast is fully covered. Clip the bag to the edge of the pot with a heatproof clip, put the pot on the stove, and turn on your burner.

Once the water temperature reaches 131 degrees Fahrenheit, it's time to set your 24 hours. Yes, it's a long process to tenderize that roast, but trust us, it's worth it.

Eye of round finishing touches

After 24 hours has elapsed, you'll want to remove the meat and place it on a cutting board, according to Anova Culinary. Heat your cast iron pan once again and sear your roast on all sides for no more than one minute per side. Once done, place on a plate to rest for around ten minutes (as a note, you should always rest meat). Then cut into two-inch slices. For an easy sauce, heat up the liquid from the bag in a saucepan with a quarter cup of red wine. As you stir, be certain to scrape up any browned bits. For a thicker sauce, whisk in a half-teaspoon of cornstarch.

Once you use this method to make eye of round roast, you'll wonder how anyone could ever call this cut "unredeemable." But even if the sous vide method seems a bit too time-intensive, there's still another way, according to Tastessence. Simply place the eye of round in an oven heated to at least 325 degrees Farenheit for 30 minutes. Then turn the oven off but allow the roast to sit in the oven for another two to three hours. This allows the meat to continue cooking, albeit more gently than if the oven were on. And according to Tastessence, you'll be left with a sumptuous flavorful roast.