Why Does Roast Beef Taste Different From The Deli?

Have you ever eaten something from somewhere — for example, a roast beef sandwich from a deli — and found it absolutely delicious but when you try to make it at home, down to the exact cut of roast beef and the right type of cheese, you find that, while it's still good, it doesn't taste exactly the same? How exactly can that be? You use the same ingredients, so how can virtually the same thing taste so different?

It's a common problem. No matter how close you make something from a restaurant at home, it's slightly off, a close but no cigar scenario. The Daily Meal reasons that it might be down to how restaurants prepare their foods from the salt to the presentation to even the simple fact that there are professional chefs preparing it. But a roast beef sandwich shouldn't be too hard, right? After all, it's basically just meat and bread, the same types of things you can get at your local deli.

Do you need to take the advice of Betty Crocker and make a "secret sauce" to slather on the bread before assembling? Maybe you need to take Campbell's suggestion and add their brown gravy and onions? All fine ideas, to be sure, but according to Melissa Clark of The New York Times, you shouldn't be focusing on any fancy additions. Instead, you need to focus on the meat to get that deli-style sandwich you've been craving.

The secret is in a good cut of meat

Melissa Clark of The New York Times found herself in a paradox when making a roast beef sandwich, and her solution is now saving the rest of us. Despite having all the ingredients necessary to make a deli-style roast beef sandwich, she was unable to recreate that accurate deli-style flavor and texture. She admitted that, while she didn't have an electric meat grinder, she had the beef from leftover roasts, so why wouldn't it be the same? This turned out to be Clark's biggest mistake.

Clark reasons that the best cut of beef for a cold roast beef sandwich isn't a slice of beef hot out of the oven, as when the meat cools, the fat congeals into thick globs and ruins the sandwich. What Clark learned is that most delis use particular cuts of meat that can be best served cold rather than hot. These cuts can be cheap, lean cuts of meat such as rump roast or eye-round, which Clark says makes "very fine sandwiches," or, as suggested by Fleisher's butcher shop, a more expensive but much more tender top loin roast. Clark claims that not only did using this top loin roast provide an excellent mineral-tasting and tender sandwich, but was also delicious served hot.

While a roast beef sandwich on its own is more than fine, you could also make Geoffrey Zakarian's recipe for deli-style au jus for dipping or smothering your tender roast beef sandwich (via Food Network). Now, you may be on to why Arby's roast beef is so delicious — and a way to prepare scrumptious meat for yourself at home.