Cookbook:Roast Beef

Roast Beef
Sunday roast - roast beef 1.jpg
Category Meat recipes
Servings 4
Time 90 minutes

Cookbook | Ingredients | Recipes | Meat recipes | Cuisine of the United Kingdom

Recipe for Perfect Roast Beef with Roast potatoesEdit

Roast Beef has been a staple of many countries diets for centuries, as noted, for example in the English ballad, "The Roast Beef of Old England, written between 1731 and 1751:

When mighty Roast Beef was the Englishman's food
It ennobled our brains and enriched our blood.
Our soldiers were brave and our courtiers were good
Oh the Roast Beef of old England and old English Roast Beef


For the Roast beefEdit

  • 1 Joint of Rib or rolled rib beef of good quality (about 3 pounds or 1.5 kg, for 4 people)
  • if possible, some extra beef bones
  • 1/2 cup of sifted flour
  • 1 teaspoon (5 ml) salt (rock salt preferred)
  • 1 pinch of ground black pepper (as much as can be held between the finger/thumb)
  • 1/4 cup olive oil or other good cooking oil
  • 2 cups of water
  • 1 onion
  • 1 glass of red wine

For gravyEdit

  • 1 teaspoon (45 ml) of red jam (mix with a little water and strain out the seeds if using raspberry or blackberry)
  • 1 pinch of nutmeg
  • 1 teaspoon (5 ml) of Lea and Perrin's Worcestershire Sauce and/or Maggi stock
  • 1 more glass of red wine

For the Roast potatoesEdit

  • Preferably use Maris Piper potatoes. The quantity of potatoes depending on how many people are coming to table. 3 pounds or 1.5 kg. of potatoes for 4 people.
  • 1 tablespoon (15 ml) of flour
  • 2 tablespoons (30 ml) of goose fat.

Recommended AccompanimentsEdit

  • Yorkshire pudding
  • Roast parsnips
  • Boiled or steamed green beans
  • Cabbage with a little bacon


  • Horseradish sauce or creamed horseradish
  • English mustard (preferably mixed from dry ground mustard. Colemans in the yellow tin is still the best)


Best buy a 'joint' of Rib, Wing Rib or Sirloin Beef (I believe in the U.S. it is called Prime Rib, and is usually excellent) from a reliable butcher, and preferably not from a supermarket. If rolled, the Sirloin should come preferably 'bone in'. The word 'joint' is used in the U.K. to refer to any large lump of meat for roasting, whether or not it actually contains a joint (hip or shoulder) of an animal.

A boneless 3 pound or 1.5 kg 'joint' will be enough for 4 people with some left over. If the meat is bone-in (still has bones in it) then double the weight required.

Also best you don't buy simply for the number of people expected at table. Cold roast beef is also delicious. Allow for 'fridge thieves', cold lunches and at least 3 rounds of Beef and Horseradish Sandwiches in the days to come. So, let's be straight here, the larger the joint, the better!


Make sure your joint has a good quantity of 'marbling' - cream-coloured fat both around the outside, as well as some through the meat itself. If the joint is coloured bright red, steer clear. It has not been hung long enough. It may be cheaper, but such a cut will sacrifice quality.

Supermarket meat has often been treated with a harmless chemical to make it look bright red, before it is sealed in plastic. It is difficult to determine the condition of such meat so unless you have no choice, buy from a specialist butcher.

All meat, and in particular, beef must be well hung. At least 20 days, so the colour of the meat is more a dark maroon, rather than bright red. If a ribbed joint looks just a little shrivelled, that's fine too.

When to buy...Edit

If you're planning your roast beef for a Sunday lunch, please remember to buy the joint by Thursday lunchtime. Most butchers sell out fast thereafter as the weekend quickly approaches.

When purchased, place the roast high in the fridge on a dish - its best not to freeze it - together with the bones and a quartered onion, and cover with foil. Turn it over occasionally making sure you don't drain any juices which may seep out. -->


On the morning of cooking, get the Beef joint out of the fridge, and let it stand to warm up to room temperature.

Preheat the oven to 200°C (400°F) and place the roasting tin you propose to use in the oven to heat up. If you have a spare one, place another onion in the tin as it heats up. Try and use a cast-iron roasting tin. They conduct heat better.

Now, mix some plain flour, a little rock-salt and a good pinch of ground pepper, and 'dust' the fatty edges of the joint with the mixture, moistening the fat first by wiping it with a damp cloth, so the flour sticks better.

In a large frying pan, heat some olive oil, then seal (i.e. briefly fry) the fatty edges of the meat until they are a dark brown colour. You may need to hold the joint with a fork whilst you do this to ensure an 'all over tan'. It is a good idea, at this point, to brown the surface of the meat itself. This will trigger Maillard reactions (browning of sugars and amino acids), giving the meat a brown colour, and improving the flavour immensely. At the same time add the spare bones to the frying pan, and make sure these are also well browned too.

At the end of this process, remove joint and bones from the frying pan. Add a generous glass of a full bodied red wine to the frying pan and 'deglaze' it well. Be careful as the wine might catch on fire! Remember to lower the heat before adding the wine.

Using the spare beef bones, make a 'bed' for the joint on the bottom of the roasting tin (preferably cast iron) which has been heating up in the oven, adding a coarsely chopped onion to the “bed” . If you have been unable to get some extra bones, see if you can find a roasting rack and place it in the tin. Alternatively, you can sit the joint on roughly chopped vegetables (preferably sweet ones, such as carrots and onions. Also add some leeks and a little bit of celery. Too much celery, however, will add a bitter note to the gravy), which will later help the gravy. The idea is to keep the joint a little raised from the bottom of the tin. It does not need to sit in the cooking juices. Add a cupful of water and pour the contents of the deglazed frying pan, including the onion, over the joint.

Place the joint on its bed, or on the rack, and put near the top shelf of the oven. Leave the meat to cook, without opening the oven for about 15 minutes.

After 15 minutes at the preheated 200°C (400°F), open the oven and baste the joint, at the same time turning the oven down to about 180°C (350°F). You no longer need to baste the joint now.

Depending on the way you like your beef, leave the joint in the oven for the following time:

  • for 15 minutes per pound (~450g) if you like it rare
  • for 20 minutes per pound (~450g) if you like it medium
  • for 25 minutes per pound (~450g) if you like it well done

Letting the meat rest is very important!Edit

Once the cooking has completed, take the joint out of the roasting tin and place it on its own separate dish, cover it loosely with lots of tin-foil and leave it to "rest" for about 15 minutes in a warm part of the kitchen. If the joint can be stood up, sprinkle a very little rock salt over the top. Adds to the taste.

Resting is absolutely essential, as the juices, which has been drawn towards the surface of the joint will "relax" and diffuse back into the joint.

The resting time also gives you time to make a delicious gravy and start baking the Yorkshire pudding, if that is required.

A note on carvingEdit

A large sharp carving knife is of course essential, and it may well need a little resharpening during the carving process (remember to wipe the blade on a cloth before re-attacking the meat lest you smother the first slice in metal shavings!)

If you are carving the joint with the bone in, it is regarded as "de rigueur" to carve from the outside of the joint parallel to the bone. Very difficult to do, difficult to produce uniform, thin slices, and extremely dangerous as often a small slice of finger or knuckle will add to the taste !!

I suggest carving across the shortest cross section of the joint, with the joint lying on its side. It is much easier, neater, and affords greater control over the thickness and size of slices you carve. A purist may disagree, but who cares!


Place the roasting dish on the stove (if need be light 2 rings, one for either end) and allow the juice to heat up a little. Add a large cup of red wine to the dish, and thoroughly deglaze the dish on a high heat. This will also evaporate the alcohol from the wine.

Add a little water (if you are cooking vegetables, add a little of their water) and, if to hand, some Worcestershire Sauce or Maggi stock, and once again bring to a low boil.

Now add 1 generous teaspoon of red jam (doesn’t really matter what flavour) a small teaspoon of mustard, and a generous scrape of Nutmeg, and stir in. If you are really feeling naughty, you can add some Crème fraîche!

Continue to heat everything on the stove, adding water (or cream or more red wine, depending on taste) until the gravy begins to thicken just a little, (on its own please - don't add cornflour!) then carefully sieve the lot, with the gravy reserved in a bowl (don't do what I once did and, without thinking, sieved the gravy over the kitchen sink....!)

Remember you need enough gravy for the number of people at the table, and they will take loads of gravy.... it's that good!

By this time, the meat will be ready to carve (thin slices please) and will be delicious served with the roast potatoes, as well as 3 or more side vegetables, for example, roast parsnips, green beans, and cabbage with a little bacon.

Oh... and don't forget some good quality (or better still home made) creamed horse-radish sauce, and Coleman's mustard (mixed from dry powder, not the ready made mustard) goes with this dish as well, as does of course, Yorkshire pudding which is a savoury batter also cooked in the oven.

Perfect roast potatoesEdit

Start preparing the potatoes about 1 hour before the Beef joint roasting will be finished.

Buy some floury potatoes that aren't too big (but then that aren't too small) Whatever you do DON'T buy "new" potatoes and try and roast them. It may be very trendy, but they are revolting.

Peel the potatoes and trim them so that they are (more or less) the same size. Retain the peelings.

Put them into a large saucepan which already has plenty of water on a "lively boil", having added salt and a little olive oil. If you can, place the peelings in a muslin sack and add to the boiling water to give the potatoes a little more taste! (Thanks to Heston Blumenthal for this brilliant idea).

While you are doing this, get a large metal frying pan that can also go in the oven (and if you haven't got one.... buy one!) and heat up some goose fat.

Boil the potatoes for 5 minutes only - no more - and take them off the heat, drain them, and return them to the saucepan... dry.

Immediately add about 1 heaped tablespoon of flour to the saucepan, cover with a well fitting lid, and, holding the lid in place, pretty violently shake the saucepan for about 15 seconds. The purpose of this dramatic action is:

  • to impress anyone watching with your sense of implied violence!
  • to coat the potatoes with the flour
  • to produce a rough and slightly spiky exterior to the potatoes, so they roast better with a crispy exterior.

Now... using a large metal spoon, lift the potatoes, one by one, out of the saucepan, and place them in the, now hot, goose fat in the frying pan. Roll them around gently so that they take on a little colour. This may take 5-10 minutes.

When they have all been in the frying pan... (who said cooking Sunday lunch was an easy and relaxed affair?!) drain the oil from the pan, and separate the potatoes a little, or move them carefully onto a rack above a roasting dish in the oven, i.e. don't place them flat onto a roasting dish or they will tend to become soggy. There should be a gap of about one inch (2.5cm) between each potato. This is vital to let air to circulate thus enabling them to become crispy.

The temperature of the oven really depends on what stage the roast beef is at, about 180°C (350°F). They will take about 30-40 minutes to cook and they should have a golden brown crust.

About twice during the cooking process, take out the tray of potatoes, and with a fork, gently turn them through 90 or so degrees so they become cooked all over. This is not as easy as it sounds, as the potatoes may have formed a crust, so operate carefully. When finished, they will be crispy on the outside, and delightfully fluffy on the inside.

One last point... anything cooked, will produce steam. So, when you are ready to serve them, and if you possibly can, try and find a serving dish where the potatoes can be laid out NEXT to each other, rather than piled upon each other. This will stop any steam they produce from making them soggy. Sometimes, laying them around the Beef joint will serve the purpose.

Bon appetit Wikipedies !!