Roast beef mise en place. Photos by Donna Turner Ruhlman

On Thanksgiving, I offered a roast/braise combination cooking technique for turkey. Interesting that I use a dual cooking technique for our traditional holiday Christmas meal as well. The Grill/Roast method, which I write about in Ruhlman’s Twenty.

I don’t think there’s a better way to cook a rack of beef (or a whole beef tenderloin) than this combination grill-roast method. It gives the meat great grilled flavor and allows you perfect control of temperatures and timing. I use the method in during holidays, to serve beef tenderloin sandwiches on a buffet or a rack of beef for a large group of people because I can grill the beef a day ahead if I want and then just finish it in the oven. Flavor the meat on the grill, finish it in the oven. It’s beautiful. (I like to season the beef with coriander and black pepper.) I’m psyched this year because it will be done on the Big Green Egg, which I am loving (my big green egg review here). I don’t recommend using this method with a gas grill, only real coals.

The ribs themselves are an added benefit. You can serve them immediately, but I like to save them, for a second leftover meal the next day. They’re delicious spread with some Dijon mustard and bread crumbs, cayenne if you like them hot, then broiled. I order or buy a pound/455 grams per person, which is usually enough to have leftovers.

If you want to concentrate the flavors, start preparing this dish several days before you want to serve it by salting the meat and leaving it to dry for at least a day and up to four days, uncovered, in the refrigerator.

Make a beef stock jus for the sauce or simply mix freshly grated horseradish sauce with whipped cream, seasoned with some salt pepper and a little white wine or sherry vinegar for a simple horseradish sauce.

Serve with Marlene’s excellent Yorkshire pudding.

Grilled and Roasted Beef

  • One 6-pound/2.7-kilogram rack of beef
  • Kosher salt
  • 2 tablespoons canola or olive oil
  • 2 teaspoons coarsely cracked or chopped black pepper
  • 2 teaspoons coarsely cracked coriander seeds
  1. Rinse the beef and pat it dry. Line an appropriately sized baking sheet or platter with paper towels. Liberally sprinkle the beef all over with salt. You will need 2 to 3 tablespoons. You should have a nice crust of salt on the exterior. This is best done several days before cooking; refrigerate the beef, uncovered, until the day you cook it.
  2. Remove the beef from the refrigerator 3 to 4 hours before grilling. Rub the beef with the oil and sprinkle all sides with the pepper and the coriander.

    Grilling off the sides of the roast (I'll add more pepper and coriander next time!)

  3. Build a hot fire in one half of the grill/barbecue (you’ll be searing all sides of the rack of beef). Spread the coals out, put an oiled grill rack over them, and allow it to get hot. Put the beef on the rack over the coals, and cover. Sear it on all sides (covering will keep more smoke on the meat and reduce the flames from the rendering fat). When all sides are seared, a few minutes on each side, move the roast to the cool side of the grill cover and cook another 10 minutes.

    I like to make good grill marks.


  4. If you’re serving the beef immediately, preheat the oven to 250°F/120°C/gas 1/2. Put the beef on a rack in a roasting pan or on a baking sheet and roast it to an internal temperature of 125°F/52°C for rare or 130°F/54°C for medium rare. This will take about 15 to 20 minutes per pound, but can vary depending on the internal temperature of the meat when you began cooking it. I use a Redi-Check cable thermometer, which sounds an alarm when it hits the desired temperature. This way, I can talk to family, enjoy myself completely, and forget about the meat till it’s ready.
  5. If you’re cooking the beef ahead of time, refrigerate it after grilling and cooling, then cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate it. To finish it, let it sit out at room temperature four hours or so before putting it in the oven. It should take 15 minutes per pound at this point.

    All done grilling and now to finish off cooking in the oven.

  6. Allow the meat to rest for 15 to 25 minutes at room temperature after you remove it from the oven.

    This is how I measure the internal temperature of the roast.

  7. Remove the beef loin from the ribs, slicing along the ribs downward to remove the loin in one piece. It’s best to do this on a carving board with a moat, or channel, around the periphery. The beef will release a lot of juice, which can be spooned over the meat when serving. Slice the meat as desired. If you wish to serve whole pieces on the bone, simply slice them whole and serve with the juices.

Serves 6

If you liked this post on Yorkshire Pudding, check out these other links:

© 2011 Michael Ruhlman. Photo © 2011 Donna Turner-Ruhlman. All rights reserved


18 Wonderful responses to “Christmas Dinner: The Grill/Roast Technique”

  • Pat Smith

    On the egg, you can heat the egg up, do the searing, then cut the vents back to smoking level to lower the temperature. Once the temperature has dropped back into the 300 degree range, set the roasting pan/rack with the roast on the grill grate. Slightly different technique – same wonderful result!

  • Abra from French Letters

    Would you be so kind as to give more precision on using this method with a whole tenderloin? I’ve been planning a tenderloin with morels and smoked foie gras for a NYE party, and would love to try this method (if you think the grilled quality wouldn’t overwhelm the delicacy of the smoked foie gras).

    • ruhlman

      Probably wouldn’t over power but don’t know the product, the smoked foie. But you know what grilled beef tastes like, your choice. you could also sear, add butter thyme garlic to pan, and finish roasting as above. I’d pull tenderloin at 125 degrees. did a huge rib roast at friends last night and pulled it at 128 degrees and it was perfect.

  • Carri

    This method looks great…will have to try for sure. It’s important, I think, to point out that while you are pulling the meat from the oven at 125 degrees, during the resting period the internal temp will rise to 140 (which is where it should be for rare) If you skip the resting step and try to carve it too soon you will have a bloody mess on your hands! I like to leave the thermometer in it like you do, this way I can carve at just the right temp.

  • Kim

    That sounds really good Michael. Could you grill or sear using some other method (gas grill, fry pan etc.) and then finish roasting in a smoker? A lot of these control temperature in that range very nicely. The smoke might not penetrate as well through the sear but it seems like it might produce a similar result if a charcoal grill is unavailable.

  • ylsf

    Thanks for this. I saw a link to it from another site. I am doing a roast for Christmas day on a ceramic bbq similar to a BGE. I am debating preparing it in advance and “warming it up” the say of but I want optimal quality so I am leaning towards waking up super early on christmas day to have things ready for 1pm ish…

  • J. Walt Layne

    Now and always you elevate ingredients to new heights no matter how great or humble their origins. Thank you for your blog, the cookboks and some mighty good food for thought on technique.

    This year’s chiristmas dinner in entirely made from scratch, right down to churning the butter and making the creme fraiche for the sinful bacon cheddar mashed potatoes.

    I knew and my family has finally learned that you appreciate food more when you have made it yourself.
    Best and Merry Christmas,

  • Aaron

    How did it turn out?! We always do ours on the egg and it turns out AMAZING. Had one for christmas eve in fact. an amazing crust, especially with the RIGHT amount of salt. You might consider getting a cast iron grate for the egg, I feel that it works much better than the standard one. Can’t wait to hear the tale. Glad that you are becoming a bge convert! One of us, one of us! 🙂

  • Tim

    My tenderloin came out amazing using this (and doing it on the Egg). I also made a beef stock with the overnight in the oven method. A very Ruhlman Christmas!

  • Dave

    Excellent looking recipe – I’m going to give this a try for New Years. After searing and cooking for another 10 minutes what internal temp is the roast at when you move it to the oven?

    • Michael Ruhlman

      doesn’t really matter. mine happened to be 67 F. If it’s 110 F., it will cook fast though.

  • Frederick Corriher

    Out of curiosity, could this process be done in reverse…similar to the way you sear something that was good slowly via sous vide first? Give it the fire at about 115 F?

  • Gael N

    On, J. Kenji Lopez-Alt has convinced me that roasting before searing is superior. The mallard reaction requires high temperatures. When the meat is already roasted, it is much higher in temperature which means searing is fast and doesn’t overcook the meat. Searing it first would require bringing the meat up from a lower temperature and would take longer. This results in the outer layers being more cooked then is desirable. Here is a link to his article.

  • Jack

    Missed out on my chance of making this for Christmas dinner but I made this over the New Year and I still have to improve the roast colour on all sides of my beef.


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