Recipe Spotlight

Lisa McManus's Favorite ATK Recipe: Slow-Roasted Beef

She researches and writes about the very best kitchen gear and food, but her favorite dish needs next to no frills.

Published Dec. 16, 2021.

Everybody has a different idea about what makes a recipe a great recipe. For Bryan Roof, it was the story and memories behind it. For Ashley Moore, it’s the joy of cooking it with your kids. For ATK Reviews’ Executive Editor and America’s Test Kitchen cast member Lisa McManus, it’s . . . well, everything.

Lisa’s favorite recipe is not just a showstopper at a dinner party—it’s also a cinch to make and keeps your fridge stocked throughout the week with delicious leftovers. What's more, it’s easy on the wallet and relatively healthy (“as far as meat eating goes,” Lisa is careful to note).

Lisa, what is your favorite ATK recipe?

Lisa McManus: I know it immediately. This is actually a recipe that's not new. It’s been around for a while! It’s called Slow-Roasted Beef, and it’s basically just a way to take a bargain cut—an eye round that can be pretty boring—and turn it into this luxurious roast. 

It’s like finding really good clothes that feel like pajamas but look awesome. This is the equivalent in a recipe.

It takes a little planning, but you can just scoop one up at the supermarket, give it a little salt rub, and just leave it for 24 hours in the fridge—and then it cooks at a very low temperature. It’s all based on food science: By cooking the roast at a low, controlled temperature, the meat’s enzymes act as a natural tenderizer and break it down. But you don’t even need to know the science of it all to cook and enjoy it!

Slow Roasted Beef

I love a good roast; that sounds delicious. So why should I make this one over any other?

LM: It has a really lovely flavor. It’s very juicy, and the low, slow roasting makes it really tender, so you get this thing that started out as—let’s be honest here—a piece of flavorless leather, and you get this roast that people absolutely swoon over, and it costs like 10 bucks! You can knock people out making a fancy dinner or even a weeknight one because it’s pretty easy. It’s lean and fairly healthy as far as meat eating goes, and it has just four ingredients.

Slow-Roasted Beef

For an inexpensive slow-roasted beef recipe, we transformed a bargain cut into a tender, juicy roast by salting the meat a full 24 hours before roasting and then cooking it at a very low temperature.  
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I also just can’t stress how easy it is to make: I just put out sheets of plastic wrap, do the salt rub when I’m home from the supermarket, and wrap it up, and then I’ve sometimes even left it for 48 hours and it’s still great. Then you just brown it in the pan and put it in the oven. Easy! 

People are often intimidated by roast beef, but this is easier than making hamburgers. Almost anything else you make is more complicated; you just have to plan 24 hours out, that’s it.

An easy weeknight roast? I’m sold.

LM: I know, right? I’ll have this and some baked potatoes and roasted broccoli or salad, and it’s really simple, and for some reason it just calms me down. It also makes great sandwiches because it tastes just like great deli roast beef! A few slices with dinner is delicious, and then the rest of the week you have perfect deli roast beef sandwiches. I’ve literally cooked it at least a hundred times. 

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