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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

how to cook perfect roast beef mary berry roast fillet of beef

Roast Fillet of Beef with Herbed Horseradish Sauce from Mary Berry at Home by Mary Berry

Fillet of beef is a real treat and is one of the more expensive cuts. 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.

Order a copy of Mary Berry at Home here.

how to cook perfect roast beef hawksmoor ultra slow roast beef rump

Ultra-Slow-Roast Rump from Hawksmoor at Home by Hawksmoor

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. You will need an ovenproof meat thermometer for this dish. Serve with Yorkshire puds and all the trimmings. Feeds 4 to 6.

From the book

Huw Gott, Will Beckett, Richard Turner, Dan Lepard, Hawksmoor

how to cook perfect roast beef beef brisket the ethicurian

Beef Brisket Slow-Roasted in Coffee Sauce from The Ethicurean Cookbook by The Ethicurean

“Brisket is a relatively inexpensive cut, allowing us to maximise the beast’s worth and minimise our costs, while eating exceptionally well”, say the folks at Bristol's Ethicurean restaurant. Slow-roasted for four hours with a smoky, spicy rich coffee sauce, this roast is meltingly tender, with big-hitting flavours that complement it perfectly. Serve with Valor potato mash. Feeds 4.

Order a copy of The Ethicurean Cookbook here.

how to cook perfect roast beef beef wellington jamie oliver comfort cookbook

Beef Wellington from Jamie's Comfort Food by Jamie Oliver 

“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 an epic gravy to go with it. Feeds 6. Alternatively, for a rich liver pâté and mushroom stuffing, check out this Beef Wellington from Mary Berry's Complete Cookbook.

Order a copy of Jamie's Comfort Food here.


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