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Cheap and Lean: Eye of Round

We‘ve had a lot of discussion lately both on this Web site and in-house about cheap cuts of beef. And lean cuts. Here’s another that meets both criteria: Eye of round.

You may have run into some bone-dry eye of round in your day. Meat so tough it bites back. I know I have. But it can actually be quite tender and tasty if you understand the cut and use a suitable cooking method.

Eye of round comes from the steer’s hind quarter (fellow food geeks will be able to amuse themselves for days on this site). It’s considered the most tender portion of the round, but tender is a very relative term here. (Think of how, say, aluminum is tender compared to stainless steel.) Because it’s so lean, eye of round is an inherently tough cut. And it doesn’t boast lots of connective tissues that make some other tough cuts great candidates for braising. High-heat roasting can dry it out and toughen it further.

Perhaps the best way to approach eye of round is low-temperature roasting. Season the meat well to start—as a lean cut, it needs a little help in the flavor department. After searing on all sides to brown the exterior, put the roast in a 200-225° oven (ideally using a probe thermometer to monitor progress) until it hits 130° or whatever your preference is. Rest for 15-20 minutes and slice thinly.

The end result: A tender, juicy roast that’ll feed your family without breaking the bank (it’s as cheap as $3.49 a pound at some of my local markets). And the leftovers make for delicious roast beef sandwiches.

Photo courtesy of Ned Raggett on Flickr.