The other Sunday I wanted to do a proper roast dinner, and I tend to play it safe and do a roast chicken. I’d like to think that’s a speciality of mine. But I read this recipe in the January 2014 edition of Delicious Magazine for Slow-Roast Beef with a Pepper and Rosemary Crust and Guinness Onions. The fact it was slow-roasted appealed to me and I thought that, despite this being quite a large cut of meat for 2 people, topside is quite a lean joint and it’d do for leftovers. Which it did! Brilliant on sandwiches, and brilliant as leftovers with the leftover Dauphinoise potatoes I made.
The beef itself was fantastic – probably the best beef dish I’ve ever cooked. And I will definitely be cooking the beef again. I bought a meat thermometer recently, and highly recommend getting one if you want to avoid the gamble of when to take the joint out of the oven. I also bought an oven thermometer (given an unfortunate incident with slow roast pulled pork that got incinerated – turns out the oven in this new house runs 30 degrees hotter than it says!). The reason I mention both of these things is not to show off. But to prove to you that I cooked everything to the right temperature. So you can imagine my disappointment that the onions were raw and practically inedible. I seriously cannot get my head around how they can possible cook and go ‘sticky’ as the recipe suggests at such a low, slow cooking temperature. And you can’t really turn the oven up, otherwise the beef will not cook correctly.
My advice – cook this beef immediately, but don’t bother with the onions if you’re going to follow the recipe verbatim below. I’m trying to think of way of perhaps pre-sauteeing the onions to send them on their way, before putting them under the beef joint and getting the lovely cooking juices to add to the Guinness and making a gravy.
Finally, we like our beef rare – hence the pinkness in the picture! But apparently topside is best served rare to medium-rare, and slow cooking will always keep it pink. Just a pointer, in case you like your meat well done (in which case, I am judging you)!
KB rating 9.5/10 PR rating 9.5/10 (based on the beef which is SO good, and not the onions)
Slow-Roast Beef with a Pepper & Rosemary Crust and Guinness Onions (serves 10)
- 1.5kg rolled British topside beef joint
- 2 tbsp olive oil, plus extra for rubbing
- 2 tsp black peppercorns
- 1 tbsp sea salt flakes
- 2 fresh rosemary sprigs, leaves stripped and finely chopped
- 4-6 red onions, cut into wedges (see comments above re: onions!)
- 200g chestnut mushrooms, sliced
- 1 garlic bulb, cloves separated
- 2 bay leaves
- 400ml Guinness
- 300ml beef stock, hot
Preheat the oven to 180C/160C fan/Gas 4. Season the beef and rub it with oil, then put it in a roasting tin and roast for 15 minutes. Meanwhile, pound the pepper, salt, rosemary and olive oil in a pestle and mortar to a coarse paste.
Remove the beef from the tin, then coat it with the paste. Turn the oven down to 100C/80C fan/gas ¼. Put the onions, mushrooms, garlic cloves and bay leaves in a tin, then put the beef joint on a roasting rack on top. Pour the Guinness and half the stock into the tin, then return to the oven and cook for 1.5-2 hours, adding more stock if the vegetables look like they’re drying out (see above comments – the Guinness didn’t even heat up let alone evaporate! But I’m leaving this recipe exactly as listed so you can make your own choices, or in case I messed up somehow)!
Once the beef is cooked to your liking (a thermometer pushed into the middle should read around 55C for rare, 65C for medium), remove from the oven, transfer to a board and rest somewhere warm for 30 minutes wrapped loosely in foil. Strain the onion mixture from the tin. Keep the onions warm and pour the juices into a saucepan.
Heat the juices until bubbling. If you want more gravy, add the rest of the stock along with more Guinness if you fancy. Slice the meat thinly, then serve with the onions and a splash of gravy.