Monday, November 18, 2013

Roast Beef with Caramelized Onion

Simplicity is the ultimate sophistication. – Leonardo da Vinci

This is cooked to "medium." Note the lack of juice pooling around the
meat. Let it rest and you keep all that flavour, and moistness.

You know, some things are really simple. It’s when we try to tart them up that possibility of failure comes in.

Sear both sides well.
Take, for instance, the “Sunday joint.” A roast is expensive, so you don’t want to screw it up. Dry beef is not a good thing.

Luckily, roast is one of the simplest things on earth to do. And so are the accompanying caramelized onions that many of us love as an accompaniment. 

Simple ingredients, simple technique, amazing result. There’s precious little that delivers so much for so little effort. All they take are time.

Low, and slow. If you can remember those two words you’ve got both of these done. Seriously, there are really no tricks to either of these. But two actions do benefit them.

First, you need to make sure you have a good sear on both sides of the meat before it goes into the oven. Second, the roast does benefit from sitting in the refrigerator rubbed with the spices. They start permeating the meat as opposed to just sitting on the surface.

Special equipment? Yes. An instant-read meat thermometer. You should have one in your kitchen. Your roast, chicken, chops, etc will thank yo for it. So will all of your barbecued goodies when that season rolls around again.

So I’ve given you lots of time to plan for next weekend. If you have the roast rubbed and in the fridge on Thursday you’ll be ready for Saturday dinner. If you want to wait until Sunday, have the prep done by Friday.

Any leftovers can be put to good use, with any leftover onions, in sandwiches.

Slow and low caramelizes. Rush and they may burn.
Roast Beef with Caramelized Onions
Prep: 1-2 days  |  Roast 1 to 2 hours*
1.5 to 2 kg beef roast
2 tsp salt
2 tsp cracked black pepper
2 tbsp vegetable oil

2 medium/lg yellow onions, sliced
2-3 tbsp water, juice or white wine
2 tbsp olive oil

Mix together the salt and pepper. Rub the entire surface of the roast with the spices. Place in a dish, cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for one to two days.

Preheat the oven to 275°F. Sear the roast in the oil using an ovenproof pan, like cast iron.

Some of my roast ended up in sandwiches.
Place the pan and roast in the preheated oven for 1 hour and then check the internal temperature with a meat thermometer. Cook until internal temperature reaches 145°F for medium rare or 160° for medium.

Tent with foil and let sit for 15 minutes for the juices to redistribute throughout the meat.

While the roast is cooking, place the sliced onions in the hot oil in a frying pan. Stir, turn the heat to medium low and add the liquid.

The liquid can be water, juice (like apple or orange) or white wine. It allows the onions to “sweat” and begin the caramelization process. Stir the onions occasionally to prevent burning. 

Cook until very translucent and they have begun to brown. This will take about 1 hour.

* Length of time depends on the weight, thickness and desired level of doneness. Flatter cuts will take shorter time; “fatter” cuts, longer.


Feel free to comment. They’re always appreciated. I’ll answer quickly, and as best as I can. If you like this post, feel free to share it. All I ask is if you repost, please give me credit and a link back to this site.


  1. I just found your blog and I'm lovin' it! I'm originally from the South Shore of N.S. and am really enjoying your posts and recipes!

    1. Thanks so much. I grew up here, moved to Halifax (of course…) and then moved back to start a design business in March. It's an "experience," for sure! :-)