Roast Beef with Asparagus in a Balsamic Reduction

If you've never been a roast beef superstar, whip up this fail-proof recipe and let your star shine!

Credit: Catherine Roscoe Barr

The perfect roast beef is all about cast iron pan seering

Try this secret weapon for an easy, no-fail roast beef dinner

Even though she’s my mom, I don’t think I’m being biased when I say that she is is the best cook ever. Her roast beef is the stuff of legend – incredibly rich in flavour and melt-in-your-mouth tender. I can honestly say that I haven’t truly enjoyed any of my roasts until I took a new approach.

Until now, I’ve always turned to prime rib when it was necessary to make a roast. It’s incredibly difficult to flub a prime rib, although I’ll admit that my roasting skills were so sub-standard that even some of those turned out only “meh” compared to the expected “wow” (my dear husband, bless his heart, would disagree and always enthusiastically devours any type of roasted beast that shows up on his plate).

My new secret? Drum roll, please: pan-searing the beef in a cast iron frying pan and then roasting in the oven.

It creates the perfect blend of that delicious, crispy outside with a tender, juicy inside, and the resulting sauce is pretty spectacular, too. For my prime rib I make this amazing crust of horseradish, mayo, garlic, Dijon mustard, grated onion, sea salt and cracked peppercorns. That seemed like way too much effort for a weeknight, so recently I tried using peppercorn ranch dressing with sea salt, and it turned out beautifully.

A friend has really got me turned onto a good old balsamic reduction, and briefly sauteing young asparagus in that sticky goodness is absolutely fabulous. And, you can never go wrong by serving roasted baby potatoes with a roast (I always aim to make leftovers because they’re perfect to stick in a frittata with some spinach and diced tomato the next morning).

I just tried a great new wine that is a lovely match for a roast. It also has a nice label and is very affordable, which are two requirements if I am going to drink (and pay for) you. It’s an Argentinian Cabernet Malbec from Inca Wines. I’ve been a Cab Sauv or Cab Merlot girl for a while, but I’m really getting into Malbecs and this blend is superb!


  • roast beef
  • 1 tsp canola oil
  • 1 tsp coarse sea salt
  • 3 tbsp peppercorn ranch dressing
  • 3 tbsp water or stock
  • 1 small bag baby potatoes 
  • 1 tsp canola oil
  • 1 tsp coarse sea salt
  • 1 tbsp balsamic vinegar
  • bunch of asparagus


  1. Preheat oven to 400F.
  2. On a large baking sheet, combine potatoes, oil and salt, stirring well to combine.
  3. Cook, uncovered, for about 40 minutes, stirring halfway through.
  4. Heat canola oil in cast iron frying pan over high heat. 
  5. Coat roast with salt and dressing, and place in pan when it’s sizzling hot. 
  6. Cook on every side for about 2 minutes, or until it’s nicely browned all over.
  7. Add water or stock and place in oven, uncovered, for about 20 minutes for rare, 30 minutes for medium rare, and longer if you want it overdone.
  8. Meanwhile, heat vinegar in large frying pan over medium-high heat, cooking until it’s reduced by a third, about 5 minutes.
  9. Add asparagus, shaking the pan vigorously, and cook for about 3 or 4 minutes (so they’re still nice and crunchy).

Catherine Roscoe Barr, BSc Neuroscience, is a Vancouver-based writer, editor, and fitness professional. Before settling on the west coast she lived in Sydney, Toronto, Oregon, Montana, and practically everywhere in Alberta. She can be found jogging with her adorable dog, dining with her fabulous husband or voraciously reading anywhere comfy.