The perfect roast beef – Andrew’s third, third, third method

Andrew is a Design Engineer here at F&P. He's full of ideas, one being a method for cooking the perfect piece of beef. It's called the Third Third Third method, which he describes below. Keep posted as next week Andrew…

Andrew is a Design Engineer here at F&P.  He’s full of ideas, one being a method for cooking the perfect piece of beef.  It’s called the Third Third Third method, which he describes below.  Keep posted as next week Andrew gives us the full recipe to his herb and parmesan crusted beef with roasted kumara, beetroot and vine tomatoes, garlic green beans and of course…gravy.

I worked in a freezing works over two summers while in high school and handling every cut from tail to cheek gave me an understanding of the things in a raw cut that make for a delicious cooked product.  It has taken me much longer to understand how to preserve that initial quality during the cooking process.  Seven years and I think I’m getting close!

I like my beef medium rare.  This is relatively easy to achieve for steak as, even for a piece which is one inch thick, there is only a small difference in “doneness” between just under the charred crust and the centre.  Roasts are a whole different beast.  When I first started my quest I found that although I was achieving a medium core, the rest of the roast was decidedly well-done. The first step to improve this was moving away from a constant 180°C oven temperature and using a meat probe for total accuracy.  My Fisher & Paykel oven has an automatic roast function but when without I have improvised, initially grilling to develop the flavour on the roasts’ exterior and then slow roasting to yield an even temperature profile from the core to the exterior.  I wanted to take this idea to the next level. I remembered a method my Dad used to barbeque a whole tenderloin one Christmas – the Third Third Third method.

This method rests the roast not only at the end, but halfway through cooking to allow the high temperatures at the outside to “equilibrate” to the centre of the roast. The meat spends a roughly a third of the time in the oven, then a third resting, then a third in the oven again. This makes for a more evenly cooked roast while still exposing the exterior to the high temperatures required for sufficient browning. It also makes for a juicier roast as resting allows the meat fibres to relax and reabsorb some of the fluid squeezed out during the cooking process.

Internal Temperature vs. Time

I suggest taking the roast out of the refrigerator an hour before cooking.

I applied this theory armed with a meat probe and plotted two temperatures; at the centre of the cut and just below the surface.  When the roast is removed from the oven for its first rest, the internal temperature continues to rise almost as fast as if it were in the oven, increasing from 40 to 50°C in just 20 minutes. The surface temperature of the roast drops from 55 to 45°C as it loses heat to the surrounding air.

When the roast is returned to the oven, its exterior is cooler than its core, thus the internal temperature does not rise as quickly during the last cooking phase and second resting period. The graph indicates only a small (about 10°C) difference between the surface and the centre temperature. This is much smaller than would be expected if the roast was made with a “traditional” method, i.e without resting halfway through.

But would the taste of the real thing match the data? Success! A perfect medium rare from inside to out, and a flavoursome crust from the initial grill phase.

I shared the meal with my team, Refrigeration Systems. They didn’t have 7 years’ worth of relief on their plate like I did, but they did appear to enjoy and appreciate it none the less!