Want to know how to cook tender beef? Check out these 7 tips

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Beef is something that can make even the most seasoned cooks break into a sweat. That's because while everyone knows beef is supposed to turn out succulent and tender, it doesn't always happen that way. And when cooking beef, everyone wants it to be absolutely perfect. After all, it's a huge letdown when an impressive roast beef for Sunday dinner turns out tough and chewy.
So what goes wrong? How on earth are you supposed to get a breath-taking roast on the table if it continues to take people's breath away as they dig in? It's really not that difficult. Once you know the following tips, you'll cook up a most beautiful beef every time. And chances are, you won't be saving it just for Sundays.
1. Know your cuts
One of the trickiest things about cooking beef is that there's no one exact way to do it. Some cuts require a low and slow cooking time, while others require a high temperature and short cooking time. So how are you supposed to know which method to use when?
Check to see if there's excessive connective tissue or muscle in the meat. If you're really unsure, ask your butcher. Cuts that are extra fatty or have a lot of that tissue generally require a slow cooking time at a low temperature. This is most often the case with round or chuck roasts. Cuts of beef that are much leaner and have little fat, such as eye of round roast, sirloin tips and top or bottom round roast, need only a short time in the oven at a pretty high or at least standard temperature such as 350 degrees Fahrenheit.
Mixing up the cuts and temperatures is the surest way to get tough, chewy beef.
2. Keep your beef fresh
It's important to cook beef on the day it's purchased or within one or two days maximum. This is because as beef sits in the fridge or freezer, it loses its juices rapidly. As those juices leach out, there will be less of them in the meat, meaning that the meat will quickly become dry and tough.
If you're not cooking your beef the same day you buy it, remove it from the butcher's packaging. Place it in a resealable bag and ideally use it within a day; the most you can wait to use it is two days. Any longer than that and it will be dry before you even start cooking it.
3. Get it to the right temperature
No matter what cut of beef you're cooking, it's essential that you bring it to the right temperature before it hits the heat. This means taking the meat out of the fridge a good hour or two before you start cooking it. This will allow the entire roast to come up to room temperature so it can cook evenly at the same time. Without your doing this, the center of the roast will still be cold and take longer to cook than the warmer exterior. And by the time the center of the beef is cooked to your liking, the exterior will be tough and dry, ruining the entire cut.
4. Sear, then roast
Searing beef before placing it into a hot oven does a number of wonderful things. It helps to infuse the roast with a ton of flavor, as searing it will help caramelize the meat -- and in all those little charred bits you'll find the most flavor. But most importantly, searing the meat will also help seal in all those juices, creating a barrier between the roast and the oven's heat.
To sear a roast, heat a cast iron skillet over medium-high heat. When it's hot, add a tablespoon or two of olive oil, depending on how big your roast is, and then add the roast. Sear for a couple of minutes on each side, just until that side is golden brown and has started to develop a crust. After you've seared all sides, place the roast into a hot oven.
5. Don't cook it past medium
Steak is one thing. You can cook a steak to well done and still make sure it's moist and flavorful. Roast beef is different. If you cook your roast past medium, it's going to be tough and dry. Unfortunately, there's just no way around it. To make sure you're never on the cusp of medium-well or even well-done, invest in a good meat thermometer. Place it into the center of the meat before cooking and let it remain there for the entire cook time. The roast needs to come to at least 130 degrees Fahrenheit, at which time it will be rare but safe to eat. Medium-rare will have a center of 140 degrees, and when it's cooked to medium, the center will be 150 degrees. This is the time to remove the roast. Don't let it sit in that heat for one minute more.
6. Let it rest
It becomes sort of redundant when you're talking about cooking meat, right? You need to let it rest. Yes, yes, you've heard it a hundred times. But it's so important that it cannot be said enough. Resting meat is vital because it allows the juices to sink back into the meat, right to the center. When you rest the meat before cutting into it, those juices won't be at the surface, which means they also won't be all over your cutting board. Plus, if you took your roast out a few minutes too soon, you can tent the meat as it rests; carry-over cooking will bring it up a few more degrees to your desired level of cooking.
7. Cut across the grain
Besides not letting it rest long enough, there's one more mistake many cooks make when removing their roast from the oven. That's cutting with the grain instead of across it. When you cut across the grain of beef, it tenderizes the beef naturally because you're cutting across the fibers that can make beef dry and tough. However, when you cut with the grain, you leave those fibers intact, making the beef tough and dry instead of tender as you want it to be.
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