A roast dinner must be one of the finest British traditions. Family and friends gathered round the table, roast potatoes, Yorkshire puddings, steaming hot gravy, and, of course, the pièce de résistance, a juicy, succulent centrepiece roast. A small slice of heaven.
With so many different types to choose from and everyone giving you their own thoughts on cooking, it can be an intimidating prospect. But don’t worry. We’re here to help.
We’ve asked Donald Russell Chef, Eddie McDonald, to give us a rundown of his favourite roasts for beef, lamb and pork as well as his top tips for cooking them. Read his five rules for a successful roast below.
Beef Topside Roast
Cut from the inside of the thigh, topside is a lean cut that’s easy to roast and slice at the table. An excellent value cut that’s full of rich, savoury flavour. It may not have the tenderness of prime beef fillet, but it more than makes up for it in taste. To get round this, make sure you carve it into lots of thinner slices rather than a few thick slices.
Brisket is another terrific value cut. It comes from near the prime ribeye and has a similarly rich flavour. This is one for cooking low and slow. Pot roasting is a fabulous way to do this.
Preheat your oven to 140 degrees. Place the joint in a roasting tin, rub salt over the top of it, and pour in enough water, stock or wine to cover the bottom quarter to a third of the meat. You can add a few diced vegetables too if you like.
Pop in the oven and cook for around two hours, topping up the liquid as needed and basting 2-4 times. After the cooking time is up, check your joint at 15-minute intervals until it’s done – the meat is ready when you can pull it apart with a fork!
Remember to rest the joint somewhere warm – 10 to 20 minutes is a good amount of time. This is a great time to reduce the cooking juices into a tasty gravy. Then place the joint upside down (so the meat doesn’t get squashed) and slice thinly.
A luxurious option that sits between a steak and a roast. Cut from the prime fillet, it’s prized across the world for its delicate flavour and supremely tender texture. If you’ve heard people talk about beef that melts in the mouth, this is the way to experience it.
Cooking it at a low temperature will enhance it even more. It’s also a fool-proof way to get incredible results every time. You’ll need a meat thermometer, but it’s completely worth it.
Preheat your oven to 80 degrees and place a roasting tray in the oven to heat up. Heat a griddle or frying pan on high.
Sear the meat on all sides for 4 – 5 minutes to brown it all over. This will improve both the flavour and appearance of your meat.
Season the meat and place on the preheated roasting tray. Set your meat thermometer to 60-65 degrees and insert the probe horizontally into the centre of the meat. Place the meat in the oven with the thermometer cord through the door.
Keep the oven door closed during cooking. Opening the door lets heat escape and increases the cooking time. It’ll normally take about 60 to 90 minutes. When the thermometer beeps your meat is ready to serve straight away. There is no need to rest your meat as it has rested during the cooking process.
Ask a Chef or a Butcher for their favourite roast and there’s one you’ll hear over and over. Ribeye Roast. As the name suggests, it’s the same cut as a ribeye steak and has the same succulent, juicy texture and intensely rich flavour. Its generous marbling and ‘eye’ of cream-coloured fat carries this flavour straight to your taste buds.
Season, sear and roast to a delicious pink medium then leave to rest, covered in foil, for at least 20 minutes. It’s big enough to stay hot and this will let all the juices settle leaving your roast mouth-wateringly juicy.
Our French Trimmed Pork Loin Roast is a great option for a roast dinner. British pork, prepared and French-trimmed by hand for the finest quality and a striking look on your table. Sweet, tender meat, on the bone for the fullest flavour and a layer of delicious crispy crackling.
The key to crackling is to remove as much moisture from the fat as you can. Take a sharp knife and score the fat, without cutting all the way through, then take a kettle of boiling water and pour it over. This opens it up and helps it render evenly. Pat dry with kitchen roll and rub with olive oil and plenty of sea salt. Start cooking with the oven as high as it will go for 20 minutes or so, then turn it down for the rest of the cooking time.
Chef Eddie’s top tip – turn the joint upside down to carve so the crackling stays intact while you slice.
Slow Cooked Pork Shoulder
We don’t all have time to slow cook meat to perfection. Let Donald Russell do the hard part, so you can simply heat it in the over and enjoy. British pork, cooked for up to 13 hours to bring out the deep, natural flavour and exceptional tenderness, it’s an excellent choice for a family roast.
For something a bit different, cook and shred between two forks for the richest, most succulent pulled pork.
Not the healthiest joint of meat, but its soft fat is what gives it its seriously rich flavour. With a layer of crispy crackling and sumptuously soft meat, it’s a wonderful choice for a family roast. Cooking it slowly will let all the fat render down for deliciously succulent meat.
Whole Lamb Shoulder
There are a few reasons why British lamb is among the best in the world. We might complain about the weather (a lot!), but all that rain makes for the luscious green grass that lambs love. The shoulder is a hard-working muscle which makes for a tasty roast that’s full of the distinctive flavour of British lamb.
At Donald Russell, our Whole Lamb Shoulder is expertly prepared by our experienced Butchers so that you get all the extra flavour of cooking lamb on the bone, without all the hassle of carving round multiple bones.
For a classic sauce which pairs beautifully with lamb, cutting through its natural richness, try a mint sauce. You’ll need to strip some fresh mint leaves from the stalks and place them on a chopping board with a sprinkling of salt and a tablespoon of sugar. Chop it all together finely. The salt and sugar will add some abrasion to help bring out the flavour of the mint leaves.
Add a dash of boiling water, stir and leave to let the flavours infuse while it cools. Once this is done, add a dash of white wine vinegar and check how it tastes. Add more vinegar, water or salt until it tastes just right.
Lamb Rack is the luxury choice for a lamb roast. Packed with rich flavour and expertly French trimmed by our Butchers leaving the exposed bone for a classic presentation that will begin to impress your guests before they’ve even tasted it.
All you must do is sear the meat in a hot pan, then roast for a matter of minutes. Leave it to rest and then slice between the bones into delicious cutlets to serve.
Whatever kind of roast you choose, here are Chef Eddie’s top five rules to take your roast from good to great:
- Let your roast sit at room temperature for a good half hour or more depending on the size of the roast before cooking so it cooks more evenly.
- Don’t be shy with the seasoning. A decent sized roast can handle more salt and pepper than you probably think. It’s worth spending a little extra on some quality sea salt flakes.
- Sear your meat quickly on a high temperature to begin the caramelisation process.
- Try cooking at a lower temperature. A good roast is a marathon, not a sprint. Your patience will be rewarded.
- Leave it to rest before serving. Cover loosely with foil and leave it for at least 20 minutes for the juices to settle. Plenty of time to sort your gravy – you hadn’t forgotten the gravy, had you?
How to Carve and Serve the Perfect Roast Beef
You’ve taken the time to choose, prepare and cook your beautiful piece of beef, so it’s no surprise that you want to carve the most perfect slices to serve to your guests. There’s an art to carving and serving roast beef, which is why we’ve designed a handy guide so you can effortlessly carve and present your rib or boneless cut of beef in style.
What Carving Essentials Do You Need?
Specially designed knives, known as carving knives and carving forks, were made to make carving large joints of meat a much easier task. By using the correct carving tools, you’ll carve much more appealing and attractive slices of beef.
Carving knives are specifically designed to help you effortlessly cut through large joints of meat. However, when it comes to using a carving knife, the longer and sharper the blade, the better. While a large and sharp serrated bread knife may easily glide through your roast beef, the serrated edge will lessen the attractiveness of your slices – and we all want to serve up a beautifully presented roast dinner for our friends and family to enjoy.
While the carving knife’s sole purpose is to cut through the meat, the carving fork is a long two or three prong fork that helps to hold the joint steady while you are carving, but also protects you from burning yourself on the still warm joint of meat.
Sharpening Rod / Knife Sharpener
A sharp blade is recommended for all your kitchen knives as they allow you to easily – and safely – slice through your ingredients. If your carving knife is on the blunter side, use a sharpening rod or knife sharper to sharpen the blade before carving to avoid flaking and wasted meat. Furthermore, a blunt knife will squeeze rather than slice the meat, meaning the juices are going to be pushed out from the joint, lessening the succulence and flavour of the meat.
Tip: If you’ve never used a sharpening rod or honing steel, check out our guide on how to sharpen your kitchen knives.
Carving Tray or Board
While some may say a carving tray or board is not necessary, many carving trays include spikes to further secure your joint and a gullied edge to catch meat juices. Be mindful of carving on carving trays, however, as they could blunt your knife.
Pre-heated Serving Dishes or Plates
Pre-heated serving dishes are ideal as they help prevent your sliced roast beef from becoming cold. Warm them up on a low heat in the oven, using oven gloves or tea towels for protection when holding the warmed dishes.
How Long to Rest Roast Beef
Once you have removed your roast from the oven, loosely cover the joint in foil with the shiny side facing the beef. Allow the joint to rest for approximately 15 minutes, allowing the meat to rest that adds to the meat’s succulency. Resting the joint of meat also makes it easier to carve.
Carving Techniques for Roast Beef
There’s an art to carving joints of meat, with each type of meat having their own techniques. How you carve poultry is different to how you would carve a joint of beef or a leg of lamb, which is why we’ve compiled our very best carving techniques so you can beautifully cut and serve your roast beef.
Carve Against the Grain
Carve against the grain, rather than with the grain. Not only does this help retain moisture, but it also makes the slices of meat much more pleasing to the eye. Carving with the grain may highlight the long, streaky bits of fat, which although adds flavour, can be extremely chewy if there’s too much in a single slice of beef.
Let the Knife Do the Work
When carving, try and relax and let the knife do the work. While you want your carving fork and carving knife to have a light grip on the meat to stop it from moving, you want to try and glide through the meat in one for two motions. Doing short, aggressive cutting motions, you risk shredding the roast beef.
How to Carve a Boneless Joint of Roast Beef
A rolled joint of roast beef is boneless, so when it comes to carving and serving, you do not need to worry about cutting around or through bits of bone like a rib. Before carving, lay the piece of beef lengthways so the grain runs parallel, and you can comfortably carve against it. Hold the piece of beef in place with your carving fork (although, refrain from pushing the fork all the way through, you want to gently hold the beef in place) and start to cut slices at one end as if you were slicing through a loaf of bread. If the end of the beef is uneven, you may want to cut a thicker first slice, so you can achieve a neater surface area.
While the thickness of the slices depends on your own preferences, you want to avoid cutting the slices too thin, as the slices may struggle to hold together. If you’re slicing a rolled joint that is held together by string, remember to cut and remove the string before carving.
How to Carve a Rib of Beef
Carving a rib of beef can seem much more complex than carving a rolled or boneless joint, however, there are two ways to carve and serve your rib of roast beef. One way is to cut the joint into larger individual sirloin steaks, or you can separate the bone prior to carving and slice the beef much like you would carve a rolled piece of beef.
To remove the beef from the bone, check out the following steps:
- Once the beef has rested, stand the joint so the ribs are pointing upwards.
- Push your carving fork into the meatier side of the beef and position a sharp carving knife between the meat and the ribs. Start to cut through the beef, applying pressure against the ribs, so the meat is gradually released.
- Continue slowly carving until the ribs are completely separated from the beef. The ribs can be divided and served as individual ribs and served.
- Identify which way the grain goes and start carving as you would a boneless or rolled piece of roast beef.
Tip: Sometimes the chine (back bone) is still attached to the roast. If the meat has not been chined and is still attached to the ribs, you cannot separate the ribs individually and are best used for gravy for additional flavour or discarded.
Tips for Presenting and Serving Your Roast Beef
Ideally, you want to preserve the heat of your roast beef for as long as possible, so your guests can enjoy your delicious roast throughout the meal. The best way to do this is to warm up a serving dish and to lay the slices on the dish, having each slice overlapping one another. Not only does overlapping your slices of roast beef help preserve and retain the heat and moisture for longer, but it also looks much more appetising.
How to Stylishly Serve Your Roast Beef
Overlapping slices of beef is a naturally appetising way to serve your roast beef. However, you will want to present your delicious roast on beautiful serveware that is both functional and elegant.
One fantastic way to present your roast beef is by serving the slices on a circular or oval platter, much like our Malmo Charcoal Oval Platter, which features a modern shape and design while also offer low edges that are ideal for serving delicate slices of roast beef.
Using serveware that retains heat once it has been pre-heated is also essential, as you want your roast beef to stay warmer for longer while you are carving but also serving and eating. That being said, you can also serve your cooked roast beef on a wooden board if the board has been taken care of and is well maintained. Serving your roast beef from a wooden board offers a rustic charm that is sure to impress your guests.