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I recently bought a big outside round oven roast that was on sale for cheap. I've made plenty of roasts before, but I don't remember having used this particular cut, and it seems to have a reputation for being generally tough and flavourless.

So I looked up a few recipes and most recommend cooking it as a pot roast, which I plan to do. Most of these recipes also say to turn every 30 minutes or so. This is something which I am not accustomed to doing and I'm not entirely sure I see the point.

Given that the cooking method is basically a braise - i.e. steam is doing most of the real work - is there a reason why these recipes suggest turning the meat so often (or at all)? Or can I get just as good a result without this inconvenience?

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Perhaps the braising liquid seasons the meat better or more evenly if all of the meat is exposed to it at some point. –  Chris Steinbach Feb 6 '11 at 13:46
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2 Answers

I've never seen any benefit to turning a roast. If you want to minimize the crust, use a roaster with a lid or a roasting bag, but the rule is always low even temperature and slow roasting for the best meat.

A crock pot is also a good way to slowly braise a tough roast.

Coming from a beef ranch, we'd put a roast in the oven at about 100-125F at 7 in the morning on Sunday, do our chores, go to church and come home at 1 to a well done, tender roast with no turning. It gets a good crust on it which you can amp up with a good dry rub if you feel so inclined, but there's no need for turning.

Just low, slow and in a container of some kind if you don't like a crust on it.

Now, in doing just a bit of Google due diligence I ran across this article that suggests that aging is more important with an inexpensive roast than the cooking environment. We hung our beef for 14 days before packaging, so this wasn't an issue for us.

http://www.cooksillustrated.com/images/document/howto/SO96_HTbeef.pdf

If you have a big back yard and a tolerant spouse I've had very good results with the Polynesian pig-roast style of roasting.

Dig a big hole, line it with rocks, build a fire to burn down to coals, wrap the meat in several layers of tinfoil and place on top of the coals, bury it with more rocks on top and leave for 8 hours. Delicious, fall off the bone beef from the cheapest giant Costco cuts we could buy on a boy scout budget.

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No backyard - I live in a condo apartment. 125° F seems awfully low but I was thinking to leave it on 145° F (medium rare USDA minimum) or slightly higher for most of the day. –  Aaronut Feb 6 '11 at 19:54
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I don't think that it makes much of a difference. Perhaps, people feel the the top of the roast becomes to crispy and like to turn it. I never turn it and get a nice black crust on top which is actually my favorite part. Every time you open the oven a lot of heat is lost which slows down the cooking.

I searched Google and the first recipe was Alton Brown's on the Food Network. I think the things to note about his recipe is the very slow oven and very tight foil pouch used to seal the roast that isn't opened until half an hour after letting it rest. It's essentially pressure cooking the meat with the very even oven temperature sealing in all the juices. Perhaps, the resting period without opening the pouch enables the juices to seep back into the meat as the proteins relax.

This of course brings of the question of how hot the meat gets in 200 degree oven. Does the meat stay below the boiling point or does the pressure of the steam bring it past 212? Does having the meat in these conditions below the boiling point make a difference?

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Alton's recipe doesn't appear to involve opening the pouch half an hour in; it says to cook for 3½ hours straight. –  Aaronut Feb 6 '11 at 1:19
    
Not half an hour in to cooking, Adam said after cooking. –  Ryan Elkins Feb 6 '11 at 5:37
    
@Ryan: That was after the edit (and my comment). –  Aaronut Feb 7 '11 at 20:42
    
I hate to nit pick but the original read "that isn't opened until half an hour after the cooking." - although he did edit it to be more clear. –  Ryan Elkins Feb 8 '11 at 2:41
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