Roast beef is on the menu at most of the pubs where I live. Unfortunately, profit margins force them to use cheaper cuts, like topside which, though tasty, can be very tough and stringy.
At home, I use a forerib of beef for a special family lunch. It aint cheap, but my word, its worth it. But then I read an interview with big Tom Kerridge, whose Proper Pub Food programme is being shown on BBC2 right now.
He said he prefers middle-cut fillet for his roast beef. Theres less waste and the texture is divine. But to give what can be a quite bland-tasting cut superb flavour, he steeps the beef in a cure of black treacle mixed with water for 24 hours.
And so off I skipped to my local butcher to source a fillet for this incredible proper pub treat. The beef was expensive 40 for 800g, but it served four people, with some leftover for amazing roast beef and English mustard sandwiches the next day.
Heres Toms recipe, slightly modified for my purposes.
Be warned: it involves quite a bit of juggling and in a Utopian world, a couple of ovens because there is a lot of raising and lowering the temperature to cook the beef, the potatoes and the Yorkshire puddings. But patience will pay off. This was utterly sublime.
200g black treacle
1 middle-cut fillet of beef, 600-800g
8 Maris Piper potatoes, peeled and cut into chunks
200g Tenderstem broccoli (Tom uses spinach leaves, washed and spun dry)
Salt and pepper, to taste
300ml Red Wine Sauce, to serve
To make red wine sauce (makes about 700ml):
500ml fresh chicken stock
Half bottle red wine
100g redcurrant jelly
100g frozen blackberries
1 red onion, chopped
2 celery sticks, chopped
Handful of parsley, including stalks
Salt and pepper, to taste
For the Yorkshire puddings (make 12)
Vegetable oil or beef dripping (I used some glorious Welsh wagyu beef dripping from Alternative Meats)
225g plain flour
1. A day ahead, mix the treacle and water together in a large bowl, stirring to dissolve the treacle. Add the beef, cover the bowl with clingfilm and put in the fridge to marinate for 24 hours.
2. You can also make the red wine sauce the day before by putting all the ingredients for the sauce into a large saucepan and bringing to the boil. Reduce to a simmer, then cook for 40-45 mins. Drain through a sieve and return to the heat and boil to reduce by a third.
3. The next day, make the Yorkshire pudding batter at least 4 hours before you plan to cook. Put the flour into a mixing bowl and make a well in the centre. Whisk the milk and eggs together, then slowly whisk them into the flour to form a batter. Do not overmix some lumps are OK. Leave the batter to stand at room temperature for 4 hours.
4. To prepare the roast potatoes, preheat the oven to 220C/Gas Mark 7. While the oven is reaching the correct temperature, bring a pan of salted water to the boil. Add the potatoes, return the water to the boil and blanch them for 810 minutes until they are cooked through and tender. Drain them through a colander in the sink and leave to steam-dry for a couple of minutes. Be very careful not to break them up too much. Heat a thin layer of vegetable oil in a roasting tray on the hob. Add the potatoes and stir them around so they are thinly coated with oil on every surface. Place the tray in the oven and roast the potatoes for 45 minutes, or until crispy and golden brown.
5. Meanwhile, to finish the Yorkshire puddings, put a small amount of vegetable oil or dripping in the base of a muffin tin into the oven while it is heating. When the oven reaches the correct temperature and the oil is very hot, pour in the batter. Return the moulds to the oven and bake the Yorkshire puddings for about 25 minutes, until well risen, puffy and golden brown. You can cook the Yorkshire puddings while the potatoes are roasting.
6. Remove the potatoes and Yorkshire puddings from the oven and immediately turn the oven temperature down to 60C/Gas Mark very low (or set to the nearest lowest temperature. All ovens differ, so use an oven thermometer if you can). Do not cover the roast potatoes with foil or they will lose their crispness.
7. Remove the beef from the marinade and pat dry. Heat 23 tablespoons of the vegetable oil in a large frying pan over a high heat. Add the fillet and fry, turning regularly, until browned all over. Place the fillet in a roasting tray. When the oven has reached the correct temperature, place the roasting tray in the oven and roast the fillet for 1 hour, or until an instant-read thermometer inserted into the middle of the fillet reads 55C58C.
8. As soon as you take the beef out of the oven, turn the oven temperature up to 180C/Gas Mark 4. Cover the beef with foil and leave to one side. As soon as the oven reaches the correct temperature, return the potatoes and Yorkshire puddings and reheat them for 5 minutes.
9. Meanwhile, pour the marinade into a saucepan over a high heat and bring to the boil. Do the same with the red wine sauce you prepared earlier. Turn the heat down and leave the marinade to simmer, uncovered, until it reduces by half.
10. Put the Tenderstem broccoli in a pan filled with water and bring to the boil. Cook for 5 mins until tender.
11. When ready to serve, brush the fillet with the reduced cooking juices, then slice the beef. Serve immediately with the Yorkshire puddings and roast potatoes, with the red wine sauce drizzled over the top.