Roast Beef

It’s hard to beat a good Sunday roast.  It’s a time to set aside our hectic lives and spend time with the ones we love over some good food.  So if you’re going to be entertaining, then you’re going to want a quick and simple roast recipe, and this is just the ticket.  Just don’t forget the gravy!

First up, work with your butcher to choose a good cut of beef for roasting.  For the razzle-dazzle factor, go with a fore-rib, which is usually roasted on the bone, but you’ll need to ask your butcher to chine the ribs away from the backbone, which makes carving easier.  Sirloin can be roasted on the bone also, but butchers tend to bone and roll this when preparing it for smaller joints as it’s an expensive cut.  Fillet can also be considered, but as it doesn’t have much natural fat, some ‘barding’ fat is added, usually in the form of some bacon strips.  Similarly, topside, silverside and rump make good roasting joints, but again as lean joints your butcher may add some fat to help the flavour.

Pre-heat oven to 230C (gas mark 8, 450F).  Pat your meat dry with kitchen paper, and prepare a rub.  I usually use equal measures of English mustard powder and plain flour.  Start with a heaped teaspoon of each with perhaps a little more depending on the size of your joint.  Add some salt and pepper to the rub, before generously dusting the roasting joint all over, and especially on any fat.

Roast as this temperature for 20 minutes, then reduce the temperature to 190C (gas mark 5, 375F) and continue to roast – basting at least three times – 15 minutes per lb (450g) for rare, plus 15 minutes more for medium and another 30 minutes for well done.  Allow to rest in a warm place for 20-30 minutes before carving.

Watch Those Temperatures

These are guideline numbers only, and may vary depending on the size of your joint, and the condition of your oven.  If I were to make one recommendation for better roasts, it is to use a meat thermometer.  It completely takes any guesswork out of how long to leave your meat in the oven, and allows you to better judge when your joint is cooked to your liking.  Use the guidelines below to know when it’s done.

  • Extra-rare or Bleu: 26-38C (80-100F)
  • Rare: 49-51C (120-125F)
  • Medium Rare: 55-57C (130-135F)
  • Medium: 60-63C (140-145F)
  • Medium Well: 65-69C (150-155F)
  • Well Done: 71C (160F) or higher

Finally, don’t forget to rest your meat before carving.  This serves two purposes.

Firstly, depending on the size of your joint and the temperature you’re roasting at the external hotter part of the roast will continue to cook the internal cooler part, even after you take the roast out of the oven.  This carry-over cooking means that you’ll need to take the roast out when the internal temperature is perhaps 5C lower than your preferred final temperature, as the residual heat in the meat will continue to cook it.

Secondly, the muscle fibres in the joint will tense in the heat of the oven.  Carving while your meat is tense will cause it to squeeze any moisture out of itself on the carving board, and you’ll end up eating a ‘dry’ piece of meat on the plate.  By allowing the roast some time to relax, this moisture can be maintained for a nicer moist roast.  Just set the roast aside in a warm place, and cover with tinfoil while you finish the fixings and make the gravy.

Bon apetit!



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