Roast Beef with Thyme Potatoes and Gravy


Today was perfect for an English Sunday roast: England won the Ashes, Lewis Hamilton was back on the podium at the Valencia Formula 1, and we (along with everyone else, it seems) had actually been hoping that Rubens Barrichello would come out first place anyway. The sun was out all day but with a cool harbour breeze, and there was live music to be heard all around. I had to make Mr. Darcy (husband) a roast, didn’t I?

Actually, I had bought the bit of topside yesterday (Sat) in a bid to join the economy-friendly, budget-friendly, and farmer-friendly trends sweeping this country. I bought guilt-free beef at Waitrose, and have seen the benefit of dressing and cooking a large amount of meat to be stretched over dinners and lunches for days. These are of course only for Jamie as I don’t eat meat, but he’s happy eating the same meat dressed slightly differently for 4-5 days running!

Nothing fancy on this process, but it was all new to me so I checked up some solid tips from other recipes before whacking it in the oven for an hour. Best resource for homely food is always my old copy of Good Housekeeping – never fails me. And no garlic, though so many folks recommend it – aside from being too French for English roast (quel dommage!), it upsets husband’s stomach.

Also note: I hate washing up, so I’ve shown where I re-use pots and pans (but remember: NEVER mix anything that’s touched raw meat with ANYTHING else, especially cooked meat)

  1. Preheat the oven at 180C, or 160C for a fan oven
  2. I prepped for the gravy by chopping a few bits off the topside, and fried in a saucepan with some olive oil – browned for about 4 mins
  3. In went half a diced up onion to sweat for a minute or two
  4. Then about a cup of water, some beef gravy granules, and thickly chopped carrot
  5. I left this to stew on a very low heat at the back of the hob, and put my roasting tin on the front large hob
  6. Heated enough olive oil to coat the bottom of the tin, and fried off each side of the meat
  7. Plopped in the middle of the oven and set timer for 1 hour
  8. At about 30mins to go, I parboiled quartered Maris Piper potatoes until just softening
  9. I drained the taters and put in a large mixing bowl, melted a knob of butter on top and sprinkled some chopped thyme leaves – mixed it all up
  10. I chucked the spuds in tin with the beef and allowed them to brown with the remaining time (they were a favourite)
  11. Now is the time I got the broccoli (or other side veg) ready to steam for the final 10 mins (a quickie cheat is to put the veg in a cereal bowl with a small amount of water, cover with a saucer and microwave for 2min 30sec)
  12. Once hour was up, I pulled out the roasting tin, and quickly got the topside into awaiting kitchen foil and sealed it up (this keeps it tender and allows the fibers to re-absorb the juices)
  13. I plucked out the potatoes and put them back in their large bowl, then set to the gravy
  14. Drained the stewed gravy through a colander into the roasting tin juice and discarded the chunks
  15. Note: If your meat left a lot of oil or was rather fatty, you may want to very carefully sieve off as much of it as possible. However, this is why I put the potatoes in halfway, because the beef fat acts similarly to goosefat in coating them, creating that crispy exterior – and no grease in the gravy afterward!
  16. Gently heated up the roasting tin and mixed up all that delicious crud
  17. Poured the gravy into the pan used to boil the potatoes, and brought to the boil (you can add some hot water if there’s less than a cup of liquid there)
  18. Whisked in a tablespoon of cornflour to thicken, and then a small piece of butter (not a knob – only if you were making a litre of gravy!)
  19. I made a complete pig’s ear of carving the roast beef at first, so I left it to the one of would be eating it anyway (eHow and the like have instructions)

It wasn’t a bad first attempt, though I couldn’t help the beef being slightly tough. He Who Eats was very happy and was bursting with food and Anglo-Joyousness at the end of the evening.

Personally I just had a Linda McCartney vegetarian pot pie – but it’s fun and important to learn about meat 🙂


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