The Unconventional Ingredient For Tender And Tangy Roast Beef

A roast beef dinner is a tried-and-true way to feed a family generously any day of the week. Along with its comforting qualities and the aroma permeating the kitchen, the meal brings everyone to the table in anticipation of the tender and juicy meat. While there are countless preparations of this iconic dish, one of the easiest ways to make a mouth-watering roast beef lies in one simple and unexpected ingredient: a jar of dill pickles.

This might sound wild at first, but upon closer inspection, it's actually a genius move. Think about it: A few sliced pickles or a pickle relish are both common toppings for hamburgers. The tangy zing is the perfect contrast to the richness of the meat. Additionally, many roast beef preparations rely on some sort of acidic component to gently tenderize and flavor the meat as it cooks.

Classic pot roast recipes call for wine or tomato sauce, while traditional sauerbraten relies on vinegar to slowly and magically break down the protein. Even the trendy recipe for Mississippi pot roast uses a jar of pepperoncini as the acid in its quick and easy preparation. Employing a jar of dill pickles is the latest move to achieve the same delicious result the next time roast beef is on the menu.

Dill pickles are a multi-purpose ingredient

You might ask, why use a whole jar of dill pickles over one of the more traditional acidic ingredient options when making roast beef? Well, this single ingredient functions in several different ways when added to a roast beef preparation. 

First of all, the pickling liquid in the jar contains a hearty amount of vinegar. This acid serves as a tenderizer for the meat by gently loosening the protein and collagen fibers in the muscle. There is also a generous amount of salt in the liquid that perfectly seasons the beef as it cooks. Depending on the brand of dill pickles used, you might even find the dish doesn't need any additional salt before serving (but always taste it first). 

Finally, there is the added bonus of all the other tasty seasonings, like dill and garlic, that come right there in the jar. Not to mention, you also get a side of perfectly cooked veggies out of the deal, improving the nutritional content of your meal and potentially saving you the work of steaming or roasting a side dish.

Pickle roast beef is easy and budget-friendly

One of the reasons roast beef is a family dinner staple is that it is commonly prepared with budget-friendly cuts of meat that are meant to serve a crowd. Chuck roast or bottom round steak are great options. These less expensive cuts tend to be a little tougher, and that's exactly why they need a bit of acid along with a low and slow preparation to achieve that tender, pull-apart consistency. This is a great reason to bring out the slow cooker or use a Dutch oven for a long braise.

In the end, you can transform this classic meal into a two-ingredient recipe: your preferred cut of meat and a jar of dill pickles. Instead of assembling a long list of marinade ingredients and heading to the grocery store, simply reach into your pantry or fridge the next time you're making roast beef, then place both components in a slow cooker until fork-tender. With this one unconventional ingredient, you have a comforting family meal that is easy to prepare and gentle on the wallet: a win-win for dinner.