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Beef - Roast Recipe

It’s very easy to heat an oven, put a beef roasting joint on a roasting tray and cook it for the required length of time. With just a little extra effort, something much better can be produced. The end result will also give you the basis for an excellent natural gravy, without the need of proprietary packets.
First of all, you have to buy beef to suit your pocket. As first choice, we’d choose a rib roast (bone-in if possible), being careful to buy the thinner end (nearer the sirloin) rather than the wider end (nearer the neck, which has more fat). Roast sirloin is also excellent, and can be tied up by your butcher – but its price puts it firmly in the special occasion category. For more modest budgets, Topside is the best bet. Unfortunately, it’s still the case, that with the exception of Waitrose, a good local butcher, buying from a single supplier and hanging his meat properly – will always offer a better product than a supermarket.

Ingredients

Choose a joint with a good outside covering of fat, this should be creamy and buttery, not white. A little fat marbling through the lean meat, is also a good sign. The meat should be darkish not bright red - this shows that it's been hung sufficiently.

If off the bone, allow 6-8oz/180-250gr per person, if on the bone 10-12 oz/300gr-360gr per person. So for a family of four, you need a joint weighing at least 1½ lbs/750gr of the bone, around 2½ lbs/1.2 kilos on the bone. It's better to go a little over these minimum figures, as cold beef is always popular and larger joints generally have more flavour. Make sure you know the weigh of your joint.

2 Big Carrots

2 medium Onions, halved and with a whole Clove stuck into each half

4 cloves of Garlic, unpeeled and left whole

1 leek, split from the green end and carefully washed

2 sticks of Celery

4 Shallots (optional, but good for a special occasion)

3 tablespoons (45ml) Olive Oil

For the Gravy (4 helpings):

1 Bay Leave (fresh or dried)

1 large pinch Herbes de Provence (those containing lavender & green anise are best)

¼ bottle heavy Red Wine - something from South West France would be ideal, and not too expensive

½ pint/300ml cold water or beef stock. If using a stock cube, only use one-third for this quantity of water

1 tablespoon (15ml) Tomato Purée

Salt and freshly-ground Black Pepper

Method

1.Peel the carrots and split them lengthways and put less in a roasting tin with the halved onions, the halved leek, the celery sticks and the shallots (if using).

2.Drizzle the vegetables with the olive oil.

3.Heat the oven to 425F/220C/Gas 7.

4.Lightly grated some freshly ground black pepper all over your joinr (no salt at this stage or it will draw out the meats juices).

5.Put the meat in the roasting tin over the vegetables - so it has no direct contact with the base of the pan. Then put it in the oven and cook it for 25 minutes per lbs/450gr if its off the bone (plus another 25 minutes, whatever size it is), 20 minutes per lbs/450grif it's on the bone (plus another 20 minutes, whatever size it is). This will give you a joint retaining a little pink. If you like your meat more rare or well-done, adjust these times accordingly. The longer you cook the joint, the more the muscle will shrink, and the less tender it will be.

6.If you have a thermometer probe - it will show 140F for rare, 160F for medium and 170F for well done, when inserted into the middle of the joint.

7.Removed the roasting tin from the oven, then put the joint on your carving dish and cover it with tin foil. The oven can be turned off.

8.Add the red wine to the roasting tin and over a low heat on top of the stove, scratch away at the bottom of the pan scraping up any caramelised bits from the bottom.

9.Add the herbs tomato purée and water and mix well together, giving the vegetables - particularly the garlic and shallots (if using) a squeeze to extract their flavour.

10.Increase the heat so the sauce bubbles, then season with a little salt and pepper.

11.Reduce the heat to a simmer, and cook for a further 5 minutes.

12.Strain the sauce into a saucepan, again squeezing as much flavour out of the vegetables - then discard the vegetables.

Keep the sauce warm while you carve, then serve.

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