The main difference between deli roast beef vs regular roast beef is that the deli-style roast beef is thinly sliced and usually used on a sandwich while the roast beef is thick cut and served on a plate hot. Now, the fortunate factor about deli roast beef is that it’s usually served cold or quickly reheated so there is no concern of overcooking when serving. Also, given that it’s thinly sliced, it’s more tolerable to tougher and cheaper cuts of meat. In fact, a good deli roast beef should be lean but still tender. This is where we have an opportunity to take a cheaper cut of meat and make it taste expensive.
Whenever I go to a sandwich shop, I prefer roast beef over turkey or ham for my protein because the flavors are just more intense. Whenever I go to the supermarket to look at buying roast beef to make my own sandwich, I notice that they add caramel color as well as sodium phosphate and other non-natural ingredients. So now, I make my own roast beef for my sandwich just to feel healthier and I can pile on the meat and still come out ahead in terms of price. Yay for home cooking!
There are basically two main points to making a tender roast beef from a cheap cut of meat. First, it’s gotta be slow roasted to slightly above rare. Any higher will start to cause the meat to toughen. Second, you need to slice as thin as possible across the grain. This is another good reason to own a food slicer.
So now we need to prepare our roast. Pull the roast out of the refrigerator pat dry the roast with a paper towel. Rub generously with olive oil. Next, sprinkle on the dry ingredients and gently massage the spices into the meat. Pro Tip: It’s easier to pre-mix the spice rub first before adding to the meat.
Let the roast rest on your counter until it comes up to room temperature which usually takes about 30 minutes to 1 hour. While you are waiting, preheat the oven to a gentle 200°F.
While many recipes call for a searing in a 500°F oven or in the skillet either before or after roasting, for this recipe, we are only going to slow roast. The reason is because searing the meat will create a crust that I just don’t prefer in my roast beef sandwich so I choose to forgo the searing.
Very important is to invest in a good meat thermometer. A popular instant-read thermometer is ThermoPro TP03 and their highly rated leave-in thermometer is the ThermoPro TP-16. I personally do not prefer the instant-read thermometer for this recipe. It’s a lot easier to just use a meat thermometer and leave it in the meat while roasting. Depending on the size of your roast and the thickness, it can take anywhere between 3 to 4 hours. Once the roast reaches 130°F, pull out the roast and tent with foil and let it rest for at least 30 minutes before carving. Technically, you can let it rest and chill overnight in the fridge before carving since this is supposed to be deli-style roast beef for a sandwich anyway.
How to Make Deli Style Roast Beef
The most important aspect to ensuring a perfectly pink and tender result is to watch the roast closely towards the end of the cooking time. Check the temperature as directed in the recipe card below with an instant read thermometer. Do not allow it to roast beyond 135 F. for the best result.
- Remove your roast from the refrigerator and allow it to rest on the counter for 1 hour to take the chill off. Meanwhile, preheat your oven to 500 degrees. Pat your roast with paper towels to dry the surface coat all sides of the roast with olive oil. Sprinkle all sides with the dry rub mixture. Place your roast on a wire rack on a foil lined baking sheet with the fat cap side facing up.
- Transfer to the preheated oven and roast for 15 minutes or until nicely browned. Reduce the oven temperature to 300 degrees F and continue to roast for another 40 to 50 minutes or until the internal temperature reads 130 to no more than 135 degrees F. (medium rare). Begin checking the temperature after 35 minutes by inserting an instant read thermometer through the center of the roast from the side.
- Allow the roast to cool for at least 30 minutes before slicing. Even better, allow it to rest for 20 to 30 minutes then wrap it with foil and refrigerate it for several hours or overnight.
- Slice it across the grain as thinly as possible. Whether you are using a meat slicer or sharp knife, it will be easier to get nice, deli style thin slices if the roast is chilled.
The Best Cut for Deli Style Roast Beef
My favorite cut and the one tested for this recipe is the eye of round roast. It is a lean, flavorful, and relatively inexpensive cut of beef. It requires a special roasting technique to cook it to tender perfection. But fear not! It is incredibly easy and foolproof if you follow the directions. My local Costco regularly carries a two-pack of prime eye of round roasts at a great price. This cut should be easy to find at most grocery store chains.
Although I haven’t tested it for myself, I believe this recipe would also work well with a top or bottom round roast. One of my recipe testers used a top sirloin roast with a fabulous result leading me to believe that a sirloin tip roast would also be a good choice.
Roast Beef Seasoning Mix
A mixture of dry spices creates a flavorful crust as the roast cooks. I’m betting most, if not all of these spices are likely stocked in your pantry. Kosher salt has more oomph than table salt and I highly recommend using it in dry rubs like this one. Granulated garlic has a grainy texture and I prefer it over garlic powder for this spice mix but either can be used. In addition you’ll need freshly ground black pepper, rosemary, thyme, onion powder, and paprika.
Rating 5.0 (138) · 2 hr 40 minJan 8, 2021 · This easy method turns an economical cut of beef into super tender, flavorful Deli Style Roast Beef. Skip the deli and make your own lunch meat
What cut is roast beef?
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What does a good roast look like?
What does raw roast beef look like?