Mom’s Sunday Roast Beef

“Thinner Sal, thinner!”

Most Sundays my mother would roast a couple of chickens. Every now and again she would make a roast beef. We usually started Sunday dinner with some kind of macaroni and her delicious sauce. The roast would be cooking in the basement oven because my mother never used the oven in the main kitchen. She said she didn’t want to heat up the kitchen. I could never understand why she used that policy in the wintertime.  I believe she had so many pots and pans and paper bags stored in her main oven that it would be to much of a bother to relocate all that stuff. It was just as easy to use the older and smaller oven in the basement all the time.

My mother would always complain to my father that he would cut the slices of the roast too thick and it was hard to chew.  To my father it didn’t matter, that’s what teeth were for,  but my mother would constantly tell him to cut the meat thinner. My mother did everything to achieve a thinner slice of roast beef, including supplying my father with sharper knifes and even purchasing an electric knife. All the electric knife did was make it easier for my father to cut thicker slices. They never really got any thinner, and it made an awful lot of noise.  She would yell over the noise of the electric knife, “Sal, you got an electric knife now, CUT IT THINNER!”

Rump roast, sirloin tip roast, eye round, these were the typical cuts of beef my mother would buy.  What I remember most about my mother’s roast beef were the caramelized onions that were at the bottom of the pan.  She would season her roast with salt and pepper, and garlic, but it was the onions she used in the pan that would add all that flavor to the gravy. And for us, the gravy was just the juices at the bottom of the pan. If the pan became too dry she would add a little water to keep it moist.

Mom’s Sunday Roast Beef

  • 1   3-4 pound rump roast, eye round or sirloin tip roast
  • 1 tablespoons of olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1 teaspoon onion powder
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1 large onion sliced in 1/8′
  • 1 tablespoon “Gravy Master” seasoning and browning sauce
  • 1/2 cup water

Pre-heat the oven to 450 degrees. This is very important…take the roast out of the refrigerator and leave at room temperature for an hour. This will allow the beef to roast more evenly and you will not have a cold spot in the center.

Slice the onions and place at the bottom of a roasting pan.

Coat the entire beef roast with the olive oil. Now cover the entire beef roast with the Gravy Master seasoning and browning sauce. Either brush it on or pour it over the meat and spread it around with your hands. You will need to wash your hands after that.

In a small bowl add the garlic powder, onion powder, salt and pepper. Mix well. Sprinkle all sides of the roast  with the mixture. Rub it in with your hands to coat evenly.

Place a roasting rack on top of the onions and place the beef roast, fat side up, on top of the rack. Put the water in the roasting pan.

Place in the lower third of a 450 degree oven for 20 minutes. Reduce the temperature of the oven to 350 degrees and continue cooking till a thermometer reads 130 degrees for rare, 140 degrees for medium rare and 160 degrees for well done. The food police recommend all beef be cooked well done.

I recommend taking the meat out just before it reaches the ideal temperature because while the meat is resting it continues to cook. What ever level of rareness you prefer, remove the meat from the oven at that temperature and cover with foil and allow to rest for at least 15 minutes before slicing. You can roughly figure 20 minutes per pound for rare. So a 3  1/2 pound roast will take about 1 hour to cook. During the cooking time, check the pan and add more water if the bottom dries out.

While the meat is resting covered on your cutting board you can pour off the pan juices along with the onions and place in a gravy boat. Taste for salt and pepper and add some if it needs any.

Use these juices and onions to pour over your sliced beef. My mother never thickened her pan juices with anything, we used it au jus.

About Peter Bocchieri

Peter was born and raised in Brooklyn, NY and is a second generation Italian-American. He has a degree in Journalism from Long Island University and is an avid photographer, gardener and pet owner. Now that Peter is retired, he is relaxing at his home in North East Pennsylvania and cooking for his sons, Michael and Joseph, family and friends. Peter's passion for food was inspired by his Mother's and Grandmother's cooking, but at the age of 10 Peter felt he could do it better himself, so he did.
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8 Responses to Mom’s Sunday Roast Beef

  1. stmartin says:

    My Mom made our Sunday roasts just like this. She would add a couple of cans of whole potatoes to the bottom of the pan and boy were those so delish along with the onions. Thanks for posting this, I know what I am making for dinner today !! By the way, I LOVE your blog. I discovered it last week and have read through ALL of your archive posts and can’t wait to try so many of the dishes that you have shared. Thanks !

  2. marianna ricci-wilson says:

    “mom’s sunday roast”!…what delectable memories that evokes! i’m not a carnivore but i do eat a little meat. your roast is a good one…especially w/ those carmelized onions. my mother had her special roast method that we all loved. there was always a roast chicken [or 2], a pork roast, or beef roast or veal roast for sunday dinner. of course there was always the inevitable pasta & tomato sauce, too. mama used to slit the raw roast all over & insert slivers of garlic, romano cheese, salame & parsley. she did the exterior just as you do…seasoning w/ garlic, onion, salt & pepper. i remember that she bought dried garlic & onion & ground them into powder. [also mushrooms. too]. when the roast was done, & sliced, each portion had some of the slivers that were inserted. very good! BTW, do you remember the salame we used to get that was covered in a whitish powdery stuff?…i never seem to be able to find it anymore. what was that white stuff?…was it a mold? just curious. i laughed when you wrote that your mom wanted sal to slice the roast thinner…my mom wanted my dad to slice the salame thinner. go figure! you’ll never know how very much your blog means to me. from your recipes & explanations, i feel so close to your people…they were so much like my family & other relatives. god bless them all [& us too!] marianna

    • Marianna, that white substance on the outside of the salami is a mold culture. It actually adds a sourly flavor note to the meat. Keeps off the bad bacteria and mold as well. I’ve cured my own dried sausage and salami and when I saw that white “bloom” on the outside I knew all was well.

  3. marianna ricci-wilson says:

    ah-ha!…the “white stuff” mystery solved! peter, do you actually grind meat & spices & stuff casings when you make your salame? do you use gut casings? my dad used to make italian sausage using salted, preserved gut casing. i’ll bet your grandfather [in his butcher shop] sold the stuff. my dad mixed pork & beef, salt, pepper, garlic, red pepper flakes & fennel seed when he made sausage. after the ingredients were thoroughly mixed, he began the stuffing process. he had a “stuffing mechanism” that had a hopper at the top to which he added wads of the meat mixture….as the crank was turned, the meat came out another opening into the long casing that was attached w/ a knotted end. when the casing was full, it was removed & the resulting sausage was twisted into links. when mama cooked the sausage, she browned it first, poured off the fat & added red wine to the pan. the sausage was cooked the rest of the way & the wine became a sauce to serve w/ it. BTW, is the white mold floating freely in the air?…does it just attach itself to the salame & grow or must you introduce it yourself? who would have thought that sausage & salame making was so involved? when i lived in germany, i used to love to watch the butchers make sausage & salame.. marianna

    • Marianna, I have been making my own fresh sausage and cured meats for years. The “white stuff” is introduced at the beginning of the curing process. I have thought about posting my recipes and process for sausage making, but that is another whole different category. Maybe someday.

  4. Susan says:

    Peter, I .love your blog. You remind me of so many wonderful times in my Italian family and all the wonderful food. I have prepared many of your recipes.. They are all so good. Now my request is for you to share your recipes for salami or sausage, please. The store bought is just not the same.

    • Susan, thank you for your kind comments. Over the years I have made fresh Italian Sausage. My grandfather, who was a butcher, made the best. I’ll work on publishing a recipe for you.

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