The success of roast beef depends on having the best quality beef, with very good marbling and about twenty-one days’ dry-aging, and using a large rib roast from the loin end.
The two controversies about roasting (baking) beef are whether to salt the meat first, and at what temperature to cook it. It is said that if you salt the beef before putting it in the oven, all the juices will come out. This may be true for a thin slice of beef, but I have never seen it happen with a large cut, and if you do not salt the meat first, or at all, it has little taste. Some say to salt the meat halfway through the cooking process, advice I find difficult and dangerous when it is in the oven and hot. I believe in salting before cooking, which produces the best flavor and a salty crust. The other issue is whether you should start with a hot oven and then turn down the temperature, or use a low temperature throughout. The low-temperature method produces very tender but tasteless meat, so I believe in searing the beef and then turning down the temperature. That way, you get wonderfully crisp fat and “outside” pieces, as well as a range of meat cooked well done to rare.
Rub the rib roast all over with the vodka, a process which begins to break down the fat and draws in the seasonings, making the meat very flavorful. Then rub in the salt and pepper. Cut twelve small pockets evenly spaced in the fat, and slip in the bay leaves.
Let the beef sit at room “temperature for 2 hours.
Preheat the oven to 425 degrees.
Put the beef in a roasting pan and then in the oven. Bake for 30 minutes, then turn the heat down to 325 degrees and cook for 12 to 15 minutes per pound of beef for rare to medium rare. At this point, the juices will run slightly pink when you stick a skewer or fork into the beef, and the meat will register 125 to 130 degrees on a meat thermometer.
When the beef is cooked, it is very important that it sit in a warm place (on the door of the turned-off oven or in the oven with the door open) for 30 minutes. This allows the meat to soften and reabsorb all its juices.
Place the bread slices under the roast before carving and serve the juice-soaked bread with the beef.
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