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Christmas Kitchen: Fresh Herb & Mustard Crusted Roast Beef
Happy in-between week! As a kid I always loved this week, a whole week where not much happens and I could always curl up with whatever books I received on the big day, spend all my Christmas vouchers ordering more books to the house, and really make a dent in all the chocolate that came in my bulging Christmas stocking. Now, things are a bit less restful. Three Christmasses ago during this week we moved house. Last year was a bit better, but it involved jumping around different places to make sure we checked in with everyone we needed to, and yesterday we had to go mattress shopping thanks to a very complicated issue with bed shuffling that will involve us moving furniture around between houses in a car convoy tomorrow before we then again head up to spend some festive time with J’s family before heading back into the city for New Years Eve. Growing up, eh?
As I mentioned in my last blog post – a recipe for Festive Spiced Nuts that have been going down a treat this year – before we all have to go back to work in the next week or so we have one last huzzah before we have to settle into the new decade: New Years Eve, and New Years Day. For me, New Years Day (or a special New Years Eve dinner before heading out to ring in the New Year if you’ve got a hang over planned for January 1st) is about a big side of something. Last year when we went to friends it was a big side of poached salmon. This year, as they’re off to said same friend on New Years Day, my parents are staying home in the evening to make rack of lamb. I don’t actually know what we’re doing yet, but if I am cooking, I’ll be making what I always remember as being the New Years centrepiece (followed by my New Years Day Trifle) when I was a kid: roast beef.
I never thought I’d say this, because when I was a kid I absolutely hated roast dinner – especially Christmas dinner – but a big roast has become one of my favourite things to make every Sunday evening, and my go-to for having guests over. Sometimes we get a butchers chicken so I can put stock on in the slow cooker overnight and have lots leftover for sandwiches or a chicken pie, and at other times we have beef. Lamb is for special occasions as it is just so expensive, and believe it or not I’ve never roasted pork before – that is something I want to learn for 2020. There are always roast potatoes and parsnips, lots of veggies, homemade gravy, and when it is a beef day, a giant homemade Yorkshire pudding cut into pieces for everyone to share.
However, because we have – and because some of you might have – a roast every week, I wanted here in my last recipe of the decade to give you a way of making your roast beef just that little bit more special for New Years, as well as providing foolproof instructions for you to tackle a joint of beef at home because, let us be honest, because supermarkets and things are so worried about giving us all food poisoning if you follow the cooking times on the packet, your beef won’t just be well done, it will be ruined.
So, this is what I propose for your New Years feast alongside all the usual trimmings – your usual roast beef, a joint designed to serve whoever you’ve got to feed with plenty of leftovers, crusted, after resting and just before serving, with a delicious coating of wholegrain French mustard and lots of freshly chopped flat leaf parsley. It looks amazing, gives everything a bit of extra zip on the plate, and makes for the most incredible sandwiches afterwards (or, as I did because it’s Christmas and you’re allowed, eating in slices standing in front of the fridge door!) I made a joint for 4-6 people here, so I’ve written the recipe (including instructions for how to make your joint rare, medium rare and medium – cook it for any longer, and you’ll have ruined it!) for that size joint, but if you have more to feed, simply double up on crust ingredients when you hit the serves 7 mark.
An easy recipe for a herb and mustard crusted joint or roast beef, including cooking instructions for rare, medium-rare and medium roast beef – perfect for family celebrations such as to enjoy on New Years Day!
1 x boneless beef joint to serve 4-6 people (we used topside)
1 large red onion
freshly ground sea salt & black pepper
20g (very large handful) flat leaf parsley
1 1/2 tbsp wholegrain mustard
First, weigh your beef and work out the cooking time. For rare beef in a 220 degree (425 farenheit) oven you want to allow 10-15 minutes cooking time for every 450g of beef, 15 minutes for medium rare, and 20 minutes for medium. Also look at the shape of your joint; these timings are for your beef at it’s fattest point, if it has a narrow bit at the end, that will cook quicker, for example. This can work out really well depending on your family; I love rare beef so like the bit from the fat middle, but my parents prefer medium-rare meat, so are happier with the bit at the tail end of the topside. Also, regardless of your preferences, rare beef makes the best sandwiches, so if you go medium-rare and it is still a little less cooked to your liking, save the slices from the very middle for later! You’ll also want to allow 30 minutes resting time once the beef has come out of the oven before serving.
Pre-heat the oven. Thickly slice the onion – don’t worry about peeling it – and arrange the slices in the middle of your roasting tin on which to rest the beef. This ‘trivet’ will collect the juices from the beef as it cooks, and soften up a fair bit to help add more flavour to your pan gravy while the beef is resting.
Season the beef well all over with lots of salt and pepper before placing it on the onion trivet. Roast the beef as per the timings you’ve figure out.
Remove the beef from the pan and transfer to a large plate. Cover with tin foil, and leave to rest for half an hour while you put the vegetables on, turn the roast potatoes over, make the beef crust and make some pan gravy.
To make the crust, chop the parsley well. Remove the foil from the beef and transfer any resting juices to the gravy pan. Transfer the joint to a carving board, and smear every bit of the joint except for the two sliceable ends with the mustard and gently press the herbs all over the mustard to form a crust. Bring to the table in order to carve immediately.
I'm a food writer living in London and the English Countryside. Welcome to my online diary where I share easy, weeknight recipes, foodie travel diaries and some of the best places I've eaten out recently.
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