The Sunday Roast – Welsh Beef and Yorkshire Puddings:
Part of the fabric of British culture, the Sunday Roast is sacrosanct. When I was growing up the roast was that one meal a week where my mother couldn’t experiment with yet another ‘frugal’ recipe. We alternated beef (with Yorkshire Puddings), pork, lamb and chicken (my personal favourite). Occasionally a gammon ham would sneak in – my Dad would look disappointed and, although we would all eat, it seemed like a travesty.
Roast Beef had a special place. With Roast Beef we always had Yorkshire puddings. And, then, pancakes for dessert – served with jif lemon and sugar.
The first time I tried to cook Roast Beef myself it was an unmitigated disaster. My parents were overseas – Libya, Saudi or somewhere similar – and I decided to invite friends for Sunday lunch. I must have been 18 – just waiting to go to Uni. I’d rescued the beef joint from the depths of the deep freeze. Mum had a habit of buying ‘half a cow’ from a local farmer, having it butchered and then freezing it in the largest chest freezer in the world. The theory – that it was a lot cheaper than buying individual cuts of meat – may have been correct, but the realisation had much to be desired as nothing was labelled or dated. Living as we did in the middle of no-where, the vaguaries of our electricity supply meant that she often ended up having to dump the entire contents of the freezer. On this occasion though, at the risk of poisoning my friends, I decided that a nice joint of beef was just the ticket. I’d only really watched roast beef being cooked in France and hadn’t realised that the delicious meat I’d been enjoying there was actually a whole beef fillet, cooked very quickly. I tried using a similar technique, turning the oven up and cremating the joint I’d found in the freezer to the extent that what was left to eat was less than half the size of the original piece of meat. It was also a strange grey colour, all the way through.
I didn’t try again for a long time.
Now, I think I’ve cracked it. For me, the greatest challenge is being able to cook a budget joint of beef (rather than a fillet or rib). The sort of beef which needs to be served rare, with a good home-made gravy, traditional vegetables and of course, Yorkshire puddings. The sort of beef that lasts all week, sliced thinly for sandwiches and salads or ground up to make rissoles or shepherds pie. In the past, I’ve tried pot roasting silverside or top rump. But, I miss the full flavour of rare roast beef. A pot roast is just not the same. And, I’ve learnt there are a few tricks to a perfect roast beef that make it possible to oven roast even the cheapest of cuts.
Firstly, start with your joint at room temperature. Take the meat from the fridge at least 90 minutes before you plan on using it.
Secondly, season your beef well. I’ve been told you shouldn’t salt uncooked meat but, for me, it seems to help firm the meat up and adds a subtle flavour. I also add a lot of freshly ground black pepper.
Thirdly, pre-heat your oven and, when you are ready, seal the meat on all sides before reducing the temperature.
Finally – and perhaps most importantly – let the meat rest. A joint of beef for four to six people needs at least 30 minutes resting time. All you need to do is make a tinfoil tent and pop the joint in there, sealing it up carefully while you finish the roast potatoes and the Yorkshire pudding.
So there you have it.
Perfect Welsh Roast Beef with Yorkshire Pudding.
Since today is National Yorkshire Pudding Day it seems only right and proper to post this recipe – you’ve all just got time to pop out and buy your Welsh Beef ready for a splendid roast dinner tonight.