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Roast Beef

Asked by neinna2. Answered on 22nd September 2011

Full question

My husband and children LOVE roast beef but I can't seem to cook it so that it is edible. Help! I need a recipe or a cooking technique please.

Our answer

For good roast beef you first have to be careful about the cut of beef you are buying. Some of the joints of beef labelled for roasting in the supermarket are really better for braising or pot-roasting. At the "prime" end the best cut for roast beef is a rib of beef left on the bone - this has a good marbling of fat to keep the meat moist and roasting meat on the bone results in a better flavour. Nigella has recipes for roast rib of beef in Christmas (p155) and Kitchen (p402 gives cooking times for various levels of "doneness"). Sirloin (short loin in the US, sometimes called top loin) is also a good cut for roasting, if left whole rather than sliced into steaks, and tends to be sold off the bone though should still have its coating of fat on.

Topside/top rump and silverside (top round and bottom round in the US) make more affordable roasting joints but they have very little fat and so can become dry when roasted. These joints should be "barded" before roasting - thin pieces of fat are tied around the utside of the meat before roasting. Silverside can sometimes be better pot-roasted. For these joinyts we would suggest starting the beef off in a very hot oven (220c/425F/gas mk 7) for 15 minutes then reduce the oven to 190c/375F/gas mk 5 and cook the beef for 35 minutes per kg/15 minutes per pound for medium beef.

Brisket should only ever be pot roasted or braised.

For all of the cuts of beef we would suggest that the joint is allowed to come to room temperature before cooking and also that it is cooked to medium or rarer. The cooked beef should be given a resting time of 20 minutes or more after it has come out of the oven and before it is sliced - to allow the fibres in the meat to relax and the juices to be evenly distributed through the joint.

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