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Alternatives to turkey this Christmas: roast beef

by Malou Herkes

published on 28 October 2020

If you’re cooking for fewer people this Christmas or you fancy a roast that isn’t the usual turkey, roast beef is a wonderful, festive alternative. Served up with Yorkshire puds, a lovely rich gravy, crisp roasties and horseradish sauce, is there really anything better? Here are some top tips and recipes from the likes of Mary Berry, Jamie Oliver and Hawksmoor restaurant. 

Tips for cooking the perfect roast beef this Christmas

1. There are several beef cuts that work well for roasting. Beef fillet is expensive but ‘a real treat’ says Mary Berry (see her recipe below) and also works particularly well in a Wellington. Rib of beef and rump are all worthy contenders, or if you’re looking for a cheaper cut to slow cook, then try brisket or topside.

2. Remove the beef from the fridge about an hour before cooking to let it come up to room temperature.

3. ‘A meat thermometer will help no end’, say the chefs at The Ethicurean restaurant. Invest in a meat thermometer when slow-roasting to make sure you’re cooking your beef to perfection without drying it out.

4. Baste from time to time by removing the tray from the oven, and using a spoon to pour the fat over the meat. This helps to add flavour and keep it nice and moist.

5. Once cooked, rest in a warm place, covered with foil, before carving. This will give time for it to relax and ensures the most tender, delicious results.

A selection of recipes to try

Roast Fillet of Beef with Herbed Horseradish Sauce

Roast Fillet of Beef with Herbed Horseradish Sauce

Fillet of beef is one of the more expensive cuts that you might only enjoy for a special occasion like Christmas. As it’s a leaner cut, there’s more chance it can dry out if not cooked properly. Here, Mary browns the fillet in a pan until sealed and golden, then roasts it for 20 minutes until medium-rare. Serve with homemade tarragon horseradish sauce and all the trimmings. Feeds 8 to 10 people.

Ultra-Slow-Roast Rump

Ultra-Slow-Roast Rump

In true Hawksmoor style, this epic roast cuts no corners. Using rump from the prized Longhorn cattle breed, Hawksmoor recommend cooking it very slowly at a low temperature to “maximise the fibre-busting activity of enzymes within the meat”. Sear on a flaming hot griddle before placing in the oven for around 4 hours. Serve with Yorkshire puddings and all the trimmings.

Beef Wellington

Beef Wellington

“Beef Wellington celebrates the luxurious and very tender fillet of beef and is one of those ultimate blowout dishes”, says Jamie Oliver. Fillet works wonderfully in a Wellington as the pastry locks in all the juices and ensures none of the wonderful flavours are lost. Jamie includes a rosemary mushroom stuffing and a rich gravy to go with it. Alternatively, for a rich liver pâté and mushroom stuffing, check out this Beef Wellington from Mary Berry’s Complete Cookbook.

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