Roast beef

I have used topside here, which is one of the less-expensive cuts of beef. It is also a lean cut, so is best served rare, cold and finely sliced, which, with copious quantities of good, homemade mayonnaise, is just how I like to eat it on a hot summer’s day.

That said, warm from the oven — particularly nice with a peppery salsa verde or mustard — works well, too. If you like your meat well done, I would recommend using a cut with a bit more fat on it, such as sirloin or rib, as topside can become tough if overcooked.

If you are buying from a butcher, ask them to roll the joint as evenly as they can, which will stop the meat from cooking more at one end than the other, and to wrap the top in a layer of fat. This will help ensure the beef doesn’t dry out while cooking, but I would cut it off before serving.

Serves 6


  • 1.3kg topside of beef
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 heaped tsp Maldon sea salt

Bring the beef to room temperature — I take mine out of the fridge an hour or so before I begin cooking. Heat the oven to 210C (230C non-fan). Set the beef in a roasting tray, drizzle with the olive oil and then rub the salt all over the joint with your hands.

Roast in the oven for 15 minutes, then turn the temperature down to 160C (180C non-fan) and cook for a further 30 minutes, if you would like to eat it rare — 40 minutes for medium to rare. Test how well cooked the meat is as you go by gently pressing down on the joint with your finger: if it feels pillowy to touch, it is rare; if it springs back, then it is medium cooked; and if it feels solid, it is well done. Bear in mind that if you are serving it cold, the meat will go on cooking a little while it rests, so don’t panic if it feels undercooked when you take it out of the oven.

Leave to cool at room temperature, wrap in tinfoil and store in the fridge until you are ready to serve. Finely slice the joint and arrange the slices on a large platter. If I am serving it warm, I take it out of the oven, wrap in tinfoil and allow to rest for 10 minutes, then carve it at the table.