Can I pre-brown a beef roast, cool & refrigerate then bake next day?
March 21, 2020 11:36 AM   Subscribe

I would like to season and brown an English cut beef roast, cool then put it in the roasting pan in the fridge covered w/plastic wrap so a helpful non-cooking housemate can put it in the oven the next day. The usda says absolutely not but I do plenty of things they recommend not to.

Is this safe to do? Will the roast suffer any loss of flavor or texture? It will have broth poured over right before going in a hot oven.

Timeline is-purchased Sat
Browned Sun
Baked Mon
posted by RichardHenryYarbo to Food & Drink (7 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Pre-browning is useful when you're braising the meat (say, in a slow cooker) because you get the tasty maillard reaction that way.

But--and yeah, people argue about this--if you're roasting, the best thing is to not pre-brown but rather roast it un-browned then near the end turn up the temperature to brown it if it isn't already browned to your taste. Contrary to popular belief, pre-browning doesn't "seal in" the juices and a sear at the end is superior to a sear at the beginning.
posted by sjswitzer at 11:59 AM on March 21 [8 favorites]

Absolutely not.

If it's roasting uncovered it will brown anyway. It might not form quite as much of a crust as if you'd seared it on the stove, but you can stick it in the oven, let it roast, and then turn the oven up to blazing at the end if you want more crust than you have.

If you're braising (in a pot with a lid and not an exposed roasting pan) then you might miss the flavor from a pre-browning step a little. Moist meat probably wouldn't form as much of a crust if you tried a post-cook sear, but you could still lift it out of the braising liquid and try it.
posted by fedward at 12:19 PM on March 21 [4 favorites]

You don't have to be a chef to roast beef. Even I can cook roast beef: Get or borrow a meat thermometer; season the joint (I use a mixture of mustard and flour, but I'm sure an actual cookbook would recommend something better); Stick it in the oven at the lower-but-still-hot heat until the thermometer shows you the insides have reached the right temperature (it's written on a fridge magnet that came with the thermometer in my case, but I could look it up); Roast under high heat to brown the outside.

(Then wrap in foil and leave to sit while you use the oil in the pan to roast the potatoes. You are going to have roast potatoes, aren't you? You could also try Yorkshire Pudding, but that doesn't work for me as my oven is a convection oven and they don't rise. The leaving to sit for a bit it quite important, though.)
posted by Grangousier at 1:39 PM on March 21

Oh, you need to put a chopped onion or something similar in with the meat when it's doing the long roast.

Anyway, here's Delia Smith's recipe. It's more complicated than I said, but she's the patron saint of British home cooks and even then it doesn't seem to be as complicated as what you're proposing. And here's Jamie Oliver's version.
posted by Grangousier at 1:44 PM on March 21

You could also try Yorkshire Pudding, but that doesn't work for me as my oven is a convection oven and they don't rise.

-- posted by Grangousier at 1:39 PM on March 21

Pastry Chef and Artisan Baker here. If you're not getting a good puff on your puddings it's 99% due to the temp not being high enough/not warming Yorkshire pan. Your recipe probably calls for 450ºF/235ºC(if you've been instructed to turn down temp for convection ignore that BS, only applies to commercial equipment) so if you're already allowing the oven to pre-heat completely--give it at least 15 minutes, more is even better-- and heating your pan for at least 10 minutes, you just need to adjust the temp up incrementally until you get the right rise. I'd start with 25º up and work from there just filling a couple cups of the pan at a time.

As for pre-browning of the beef, RichardHenryYarbo, it's not optimal but if you need to do it to manage your time or adjust for your equipment, go for it, it will still be delicious.
posted by nenequesadilla at 7:26 PM on March 22

if you've been instructed to turn down temp for convection ignore that BS, only applies to commercial equipment

To expand on that a bit: In my experience, consumer convection ovens annoyingly deduct 25º from the temperature you set. So if you really need a particular temperature, you have to add 25º (as nenequesadilla recommended) to get that actual temperature. Best to check your owner's manual, I guess. But a convection oven should totally be able to make Yorkshire puddings. They might cook faster, though, so watch them like a hawk.
posted by sjswitzer at 4:02 PM on March 23

Thanks all, was going for the maillard reaction. Helpful housemate put it in the oven minus the broth for over an hour before I called home to check on the cooking progress and they then added the broth. It was not the best roast but edible and I shredded the leftover which made excellent burritos the following day. Now I know not to prebrown the day before baking.

I just really like the extra layer of flavor from browning well covered in s & p. It was pretty bland to me.
posted by RichardHenryYarbo at 6:43 AM on March 28

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