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A rump roast is a cut of meat from the bottom round — otherwise known as the fleshy hindquarters, or “rump” — of an animal. Most of the rump roasts sold in commercial supermarkets are beef or veal, but this cut is possible from any sort of four-legged game. Rump roasts are almost always prepared and sold boneless. If the bone is left in, they are typically referred to as “standing rump roasts.”
Most butchers consider the rump roast to be a somewhat low-quality cut of meat owing in large part to its toughness. Animals use their hindquarters regularly for walking, running, and even just standing, which makes the resulting meat from that region less tender. These considerations in no way make the meat unpalatable, however. In many places, the rump roast is one of the most economical cuts of meat to purchase, and there are many innovative ways to prepare and serve it.
The thickness and density of the bottom round makes roasting the most practical cooking option. Cooks usually begin with a heavy-duty roasting pan. When possible, the meat is usually elevated on a rack, which allows juices and fat to drip out.
Most rump roast recipes recommend rubbing the outside of the roast with salt, butter, or oil in order to help it stay moist during cooking. Roasting is typically a long process, often lasting several hours or more. If not properly moisturized, the meat can dry out and possibly even burn around the edges.
Cooks often enhance the flavor of their rump roasts by adding various herbs and vegetables to the roasting pan, typically in the bottom where the juices collect. Sliced carrot, onion, and garlic are common, but almost anything can be included. Adding water or stock to the pan is also common. As the oven heats, the liquid and vegetables in the bottom release steam and flavor that can influence how the meat will ultimately taste.
Another way to cook a rump roast is to braise it, which is a multi-step process that typically avoids the oven entirely. Cooks begin by browning the meat on all sides in a skillet or deep cooking dish. The browned meat is then placed in a deep covered pot — a dutch oven is a common choice, though a slow cooker can also be used — along with liquid and any vegetable or other flavoring additives. Cooks allow the mixture to simmer for several hours over low heat until the meat is tender.
Gauging the internal temperature of any sort of meat, roasts included, before serving it is very important for health reasons. Undercooked meat often carries bacteria, and can cause a variety of illnesses. Recipes often provide guidelines about cooking time, but temperature is usually more important than timing. A rump roast is not done until an internal thermometer displays a reading that is well within the “safe” range.
International health experts agree that even rare rump roasts should register at least 130°F (about 54°C). Medium roasts should reach a temperature of about 140°F (about 60°C), and well-done meat should typically show a temperature in the 165 to 170°F range (from about 74 to 78°C).
Once roasts are removed from the oven, they typically continue to cook for a few minutes. The meat is usually so dense and thick that it takes a little while to cool completely. For this reason, most cooks recommend taking a rump roast’s temperature twice, once before removing it from the oven and then again after letting it cool for a few moments.
There are a number of ways to prepare and serve a rump roast. One of the most traditional rump meals involves thick slices of the meat, often served with a gravy made from the juice drippings collected in the bottom of the pan or braising pot. The meat can also be chopped and used in a stew, or sliced very thin for hot sandwiches or salads.
When I cook a rump roast I dry age it for a couple of days. Place the roast on a wire rack over a baking pan and stick it in the fridge. Leave it in for 2-3 days. Trim off any parts that are dried then bake it as you normally would.
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