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British Roast Beef Dinner
Cooking a Roast Beef Dinner: A British Tradition
Who says British food is bland and boring?
If you've ever tasted a well cooked slice of roast beef accompanied by a perfectly roasted potato and parsnip, a Yorkshire pudding, and lightly steamed fresh vegetables, well, then you know the fallacy of that statement.
The Sunday roast lunch is a time honoured tradition in Britain. Roast chicken with bacon rolls, sausages, and bread sauce. Roast lamb with mint sauce. Roast pork with crackling and applesauce. By far though, the most popular Sunday roast has got to be roast beef with Yorkshire pudding.
Finding the best beef joint
Quality ingredients = quality eating
To create a really good tasting roast dinner, you have to start with a good piece of beef. Look for a nice sized roasting joint from the hindquarter or rump of the beef cow. It should be a dark red colour with a nice layer of fat. Don't be put off by the anti-fat crowd, you need that fat to give your roast flavour.
You'll want a nice size roast as well. If you get something too small it will be dry. A joint that is around 2.5 kg/5 lbs will give you enough meat for 4 people, plus leftovers for another meal and a few sandwiches..
This is a good time to mention that the best place to buy a joint of beef is not the large commercial supermarket but an independent butcher. They can advise you and cut exactly the size piece you want. They are also less likely to have injected that joint of beef with water to bulk it out.
Once you get the beef home, store it in the fridge on a plate. Keep it covered. If not with the wrap it came in, then wrap it in greaseproof paper or unwaxed baking parchment. When you are ready to roast it, take it out of the fridge and let it sit, loosely covered, in the roasting tin for at least 30 minutes.
I like to cover the top of my beef joint with a mixture of crushed juniper berries, crushed black peppercorns, mustard powder, and salt.
It's Time to Cook
It's Time to Cook
- Decide when you want to eat.
- Take a look at your beef joint. How much does it weigh? This will help you determine the cooking time.
- For rare beef, cook it for 20 minutes per pound (or per 500grams) plus 20 minutes.
For medium rare, 25 minutes per pound (500grams) plus 25 minutes.
For well done, 30 minutes per pound (500 grams) plus 30 minutes.
A 5 pound beef joint, cooked for 25 minutes per pound plus 25 minutes would mean a cooking time of 150 minutes, or 2 hours 30 minutes. If you want to eat at 7PM, that means you need to put the roast into the oven by 4:30PM. There are those who say the meat needs time to rest after removing it from the oven, but frankly, I've never noticed much difference. If you do want to allow for resting time, put it in the oven 15 minutes earlier and take it out 15 minutes earlier.
About 10 minutes before putting the joint into the oven, turn it on to gas mark 7/425F/220C.
Adjust the racks in the oven so that one is on the lowest or next lowest rung and one is at the top with a clearance of at least 5 inches.
Uncover the roast and using a sharp knife, slash the fat being careful not to cut any string used to tie the roast together. You can rub a mixture of cracked black pepper and salt into the fat as well if you wish.
Personally, I make a rub using juniper berries, mustard powder, salt, and pepper and rub that into the beef joint. Place about 1/4 cup of water into the roasting tray and cover the entire pan and joint with baking foil.
Place the beef joint in the oven on the lower rack. Take it out one hour into roasting, uncover it and baste it with any juices that have been released. Cover it again, turn it, and return it to the oven.
When it has 45 minutes cooking time left, remove the foil so the meat can brown.
Treat yourself to a Roasting Joint - The perfect main course for your next celebration
I'm drooling just thinking about how delicious this beef would taste.
You can't have a roast beef without one of these.
Again, very easy to make. Not so easy sometimes to get it to rise. All you need are eggs, flour, and milk. And a pinch of salt.
You'll need 1 egg for every 2 people eating. Whisk the egg/s until frothy. Add 2 heaped tablespoons of flour for every 1 egg. Add enough milk to make a thin batter. This should be thinner than American pancake batter, but thicker than crepe better. Add a pinch of salt. Whisk the batter until it is frothy. You want to get lots of air into the batter. Now, push it to the side of the counter out of the way and just let it sit for at least a half hour at room temperature.
This will take about 45 minutes to cook. Again, count back from when you want to eat the meal. Five minutes before cooking, put a small amount of fat, not oil and not a good spraying of anything in a can, into a baking dish. A 1 egg Yorkshire will fit easily into a 1/2 liter baking dish, 2 eggs into a 1 liter dish, and up from there. Put that into the oven and let it heat up until it is very hot, absolutely spitting.
Once heated, get a serving spoon and heat that under a running tap of hot water. Add one serving spoon full of hot water to the batter and whisk it briskly for 4 - 5 seconds. Pour it immediately into the hot dish over the fat and put it in the oven on the top rack. Now leave it alone until it has cooked.
Add some roasted vegetables
We like roasted potatoes and parsnips with beef at my house.
Peel and quarter 1 potato per person and 1 medium sized parsnip for every 2 people.
Heat 1 tablespoon fat in a baking tray until very hot and sizzling. Add the prepared vegetables, turn once, and place in a hot oven for about 45 minutes.
Remove from oven and turn the potatoes and parsnips about halfway through the cooking time.
Add your vegetables - Gives the plate a bit of colour
You'll want a nice veggie to go with your roast dinner. Just about any vegetable will do here so choose among your favourites.
Look in your local farmer's market or independent shop for fresh, seasonal produce.
Of course, you could just grab a bag of wilted, overpriced, forced hot house grown vegetable from the grocery store. But for such a special meal, why would you want to?
If you don't have a steamer, you can cook the vegetables by simmering them gently in hot water. Leave the lid off the pan. Leaving the lid off helps the vegetables to retain their bright colours.Cook until they are soft but still retain a bit of crispness. There are very few things in this world worse than soggy veggies.
Putting it all together - It's dinner time.
Bring your beef out and carve enough slices off for everyone. One or two slices per person should be plenty. Drain any juices from the pan into a glass bowl. You can save the fat off the top to roast your veggies next time and to make your Yorkshire pudding. The jelly underneath can be used to make gravy or makes a nice treat for your 4 - legged friends.
Cut the Yorkshire into sections and put a bit on each plate. If done correctly, it will have nicely risen in the oven. The outer edges will be crunchy while the middle will be soft.
Divide the roasted vegetables up between everyone. Same with your green vegetable.
To top it off, put a teaspoon of horseradish sauce on the side of the plate to go with the beef.
Why not make your own horseradish sauce
1 tsp white vinegar
1/2 tsp mustard powder
1/2 tsp sugar
2 T double cream (whipping cream)
2 T freshly grated horseradish
Blend mustard and sugar together with cream. Add grated horseradish and vinegar. Mix well. Allow to stand for 1/2 hour before using.
Roasting Pans - make cooking dinner easier
Look for a sturdy, solid roasting pan. Plan on spending a bit of money for your pan. This should be an investment for your kitchen, and if you choose wisely you will be able to use that roasting pan for a lifetime.
Avoid any pan with a non-stick coating. I have found that they cannot stand up to the high heats used when cooking meats. Within a few months, most of the coating will have flaked off, some of that into your food.
Some roasting pans come with a rack. I took mine out and eventually threw it away, but if you want to cook your roast up out of it's juices, go ahead and use it. Cooking times will be the same.
This particular pan has gotten consistently high reviews at Amazon.
Places I like
- Veg box recipes
Just in case you need some ideas on what to do with those fresh vegetables
- Recipes by key ingredient
What I like about this page is that it has pictures of many vegetables. So, if you have trouble identifying a particular vegetable, have a look here.
- Online Recipe Videos & Cooking Tutorials
iFoods is the new and hip way of interacting with other food lovers worldwide. Not only do you get to upload your own recipe videos, develop your profile and prove your culinary genius to everyone but you also have the option of learning a few things
- Icons of Britain: Roast Beef and Yorkshire Pudding
A history of the traditional roast beef dinner.
- Local Harvest
Use our website to find farmers' markets, family farms, and other sources of sustainably grown food in your area, where you can buy produce, grass-fed meats, and many other goodies. This site covers the USA.