Cocoa & Cumin Rubbed Beef Roast

Source: Micki Seibel, May 2013

Source: Micki Seibel, May 2013

This elegant roast is not only simple to execute, it’s tender and flavorful finish makes it a great dinner party main dish.


  • 1 tsp ground cumin
  • 3/4 tsp unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1/4 tsp ground allspice
  • 2 tsp kosher salt
  • 1 tsp freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 whole tri-tip beef roast (about 2 pounds)
  • 1 tbsp olive oil


  1. In a small bowl, combine the cumin, cocoa powder, allspice, salt, and pepper.
  2. Rub the spice mixture all over the beef. If your roast has a long, thin end, tuck it under to create an even thickness from end to end.
  3. Refrigerate uncovered overnight or at least 2 hours ahead of roasting. Let your roast sit at room temperature for 30 minutes before roasting.
  4. Position a rack in the center of your oven, and preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
  5. In a large roasting pan or cast-iron skillet, heat the olive oil over medium-high heat. When it is heated, add the roast and brown for 2 minutes, flip, and brown the other side for an additional two minutes.
  6. Put the roast in the oven (pan or skillet and all), insert a cooking thermometer, and roast until it reaches 125 degrees in the center, about 25 minutes for medium-rare.
  7. Remove from the oven and let rest for 10-20 minutes. Slice across the grain of the meat into 1/4″-1/2″-thick slices and serve.

How to Not Screw It Up

  1. If you want the roast to be evenly cooked (i.e. from end-to-end the whole thing is medium-rare), tuck the thin side of the roast under. This will create an even thickness to ensure even cooking.
  2. Sometimes, however, you want some unevenness in the cooking. For example, making this for one dinner party, I had to satisfy the medium well eater (btw, blah!) with the rare eater. In which case, leave the roast fully laid out on the roasting pan, and the ends will be more medium to medium well and the center will be closer to rare.
  3. Definitely use a meat thermometer to get the center to the right level of doneness. Using a definite cooking time does not work with roasts like this. Every roast will be a little different and grass-fed beef cooks faster than its tortured, corn-fed counterpart.