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How to Roast Beef: Our Definitive Guide

Blog • May 13th 2018
How to Roast Beef Joints


Roast beef is most commonly eaten on Sundays throughout the UK as a family gathering. This tradition is centuries old and is still going strong up to the present day.

Perfect Yorkshire Puddings

The Sunday Roast Dinner originated in England as a meal to be eaten after church on Sunday. Eating a large meal following church services is common to all of the continent of Europe as with other Christian countries, but the Sunday Roast meal is uniquely English. On Sundays, all types of meat and dairy produce are allowed to be eaten.

There are two historical points on the origins of the modern Sunday Roast. In the late 1700s during the industrial revolution in the United Kingdom, families would place a cut of meat into the oven as they got ready for church. They would then add in vegetables such as potatoes, turnips and parsnips before going to church on a Sunday morning. When they returned from the church the dinner was all but ready. The juices from the meat and vegetables were used to make a stock or gravy to pour on top of the dinner.


Joints taken from the Sirloin & Fore Rib command the highest price point but are truly worth it, cuts such as Wing & Fore Rib of beef are real centrepieces for the table, Sirloin Joints & butcher tied Fillets are pure luxury.

Other joints which are more popular on a regular basis & less expensive are Rump, Topside, Rolled Brisket, Silverside & Salmon cut.

Other less common joints we feature are the Shoulder Joint taken from the Chuck, Picanha from the Rump Cap & Tri Tip Joint from the tip of the sirloin, these plus many more all work for great roasts

Roasting 'on the bone' joints

The benefits of roasting beef on the bone are added flavour profile as the beef roasts its naturally boasted by the goodness the bone will produce, less shrinkage & better retention of moisture, it can be more tricky to carve though following the basic principle of carving at the same angles as the bone is facing will make the task a lot simpler.

Resting time is paramount & I would suggest minimum 10 minutes per 450g resting time


My preferred choice of joints for Traditional Roast Beef are Topside & Rump & Sirloin.

Topside: A very traditional, affordable cut which was my family treat on a Sunday, was usually served overcooked & sliced extremely thin to go around the table. It has a very traditional beef flavour and produces a great gravy from the roasting juices. I always serve this roast very traditionally, with seasonal vegetables, Yorkshires & chopped lettuce tossed in a little vinegar, salt & sugar ( a very Northern thing!).

Rump: A mid-priced cut that's big on flavour, boasting rich, caramel flavours and takes to additional maturation really well. It has good levels of fat and is a beef connoisseurs favourite. I serve this with more varied accompaniments such as a gratin dauphinoise, roast carrots with anise & rich red wine gravy

Sirloin: A more expensive cut, for a special occasion, this super tender joint is easy to carve, consistent for cooking with good levels of marbling and a good covering of fat sealing in the juices as it roasts. This perfect roasting joint is best served with classic horseradish, buttered brassicas, roasties & Yorkshires, plus, any left over makes the most amazing roast beef sandwiches.


Oven temperatures

Gas Mark Centigrade °C Fan Assisted ° C Fahrenheit °F Description
1 140 120 275 Very Cool
2 150 130 300 Cool
3 170 150 325 Warm
4 180 160 350 Moderate
5 190 170 375 Fairly Hot
6 200 180 400 Fairly Hot
7 220 200 425 Hot
8 230 210 450 Very Hot
9 240 220 475 Extremely Hot

Core meat temperatures for Roast Beef

Core Temperature °C From oven °C After resting °F From oven °F After resting To Touch
Rare 50-54°C 54-56°C 122-130°F 130-132°F Very Soft
Medium Rare 56-58°C 58-60°C 132-136°F 136-140°F Soft
Medium 60-62°C 62-64°C 140-144°F 144-148°F Springy
Well Done 68-70°C 70-75°C 154-158°F 158-167°F Firm


1. Testing with your finger

The best way is to press the thickest part of the joint with your index finger. If the joint is soft to touch it will be rare, the more firm to the touch the more well done the joint will be cooked.

2. Test with tongs

You can test also test your joint with tongs. Gently prod the roast; rare is very soft, medium rare is soft, medium is springy but soft, medium well is firm and well done is very firm.

Testing with this method as you get close to the required cooking time is always a safe option to avoid overcooking it.


The instructions below work for all three of my favourite Joints; Topside & Rump & Sirloin.

  1. Remove the joint from the fridge & packaging upto 1 hour before roasting
  2. Season with sea salt & rub with a little duck or goose fat if there's not a generous layer of fat on the joint
  3. Place the joint onto a bed of chopped onion, carrot & celery with some fresh thyme & a couple of bay leaves (this will be the base for your gravy)
  4. Roast the joint in a preheated oven 230°C or 210°C fan assisted for 20 minutes
  5. Reduce oven temperature to 180°C or 160°C fan assisted & continue roasting the joint following the simple chart below for your doneness
  6. Remove from roasting tray & keep warm under a foil tent whilst making the gravy
  7. Rest for 8-10 minutes per 450g before carving
  8. Always carve against the grain

Roast the joint for 20 minutes @ 240°C or 220°C fan assisted then reduce heat to 180°C or 160°C fan assisted for every 450g (lb) thereafter
Rare 10-12 minutes per 450g
Medium rare 12-15 minutes per 450g
Medium 15-18 minutes per 450g
Well done 20-25 minutes per 450g


The toolkit:

1. Carving knife

The longer and sharper the blade of your knife, the better. If you do not have a knife specifically for carving, a large, very sharp, serrated bread knife will do the job although the slices will not look as attractive.

2. Carving fork

A large carving fork helps to hold the joint steady while carving.

3. Chopping Board

Choose a heavy chopping, preferably wooden with a groove set around the perimeter to capture any juices. Set the board on damp kitchen paper, J cloth or a clean damp tea towel so the board does not move when carving.

4. Steel/knife sharpener

If you are using a traditional carving knife, get into the habit of sharpening it before every use. Sharpening a blunt knife is really difficult & takes years of practice.

There is a wide range of easy to use knife sharpeners on the market which work very well, my favourite is the Chantry Knife Sharpener.

How to Carve:

1. Carve against the grain

We've all at some point heard the saying always carve against the grain.

The grain means the visible layers of muscle fibres that hold the meat together and run in one direction, lengthways along the joint of meat.

If you were to carve with the grain you would see long streaks of fatty sinew and each slice would be chewy. Carving against the grain results in tender slices.

2. Carving techniques

First and foremost, relax. Do not clench the knife but use a light grip. Use a long slicing motion and let the knife do the work.

Try to glide your way through each slice in one or two motions to avoid shredding the meat. Always position the carving fork between you and the knife to avoid any accidents.

Carve 'off the bone' Beef Joints
  1. If you are carving a boneless joint such as topside, rump or sirloin joint, place the piece of beef lengthways so the grain runs parallel to the work surface. Remove any strings attached with scissors before carving.
  2. Holding it in position gently with your carving fork, cut slices from it as if it were a loaf of bread, starting at the wider end. If the end is uneven, make the first slice thicker than the others to get a level surface from which to continue carving.
  3. The thickness of the slices is a matter of preference, my preference is to aim for a minimum thickness of 3mm on the less expensive cuts topside etc. & 5mm on the more prized joints such as sirloin & fillet for optimum texture.
  4. Transfer the slices to a warm serving dish overlapping as you carve to retain the heat.
Carve 'on the bone' Beef Joints
  1. The prime cuts of beef on the bone for roasting are Sirloin, Wing Rib and the Fore Rib of beef.
  2. To remove the beef from the bone, run the knife backwards and forwards down along the inside edge of the rib bones until the meat is detached.
  3. Underneath the meat there may well be another flatter piece of bone called the chine bone. Remove this prior to carving the beef.
  4. Some of the tastiest parts of beef will be clinging to the rib bones.
  5. Separate the ribs, stroke the knife parallel with the bones cutting through attached meat to separate and serve alongside the carved joint.
  6. Holding the joint in position gently with your carving fork, cut slices from it as if it were a loaf of bread, starting at the wider end. If the end is uneven, make the first slice thicker than the others to get a level surface from which to continue carving.
  7. The thickness of the slices is a matter of preference, my preference is to aim for between 3mm & 5mm for optimum mouth feel.
  8. Transfer the slices to a warm serving dish overlapping as you carve to retain the heat.
  9. To carve the joint with the ribs intact, turn the joint over so the bones are underneath. They form a stable base. Carve across the grain, 3mm to 5mm thickness down through to the ribs. At the end of the slice twist the knife to be almost parallel to the board to separate the meat from the bone.


For the Gravy

  1. For the gravy, make up 500ml of beef stock then deglaze in the roasting tray including the roasted vegetables with thestock stirring in.
  2. Add the caramelised juices from the tray over a gentle heat.
  3. Next pass the stock through a fine sieve pushing all the juices from the vegetables into a clean saucepan.
  4. Bring to a simmer and thicken if required by whisking in a teaspoon of cornflour mixed with a little cold water and reduce till you reach a rich, glossy gravy.

For the Yorkshire Puddings

Serves 6 / prep 10 mins / cook 25 mins / easy


  • 3 x extra large free range hens eggs
  • 275ml semi skimmed milk
  • 200g plain flour
  • Pinch of fine sea salt
  • Pinch of ground white pepper
  • 12 x tsp. duck or goose fat or beef dripping


  1. Start by blending all the ingredients together except the fat or dripping.
  2. This can be done a couple of hours in advance.
  3. Preheat the oven to 200oc fan assisted or 210oc for ovens without a fan.
  4. Place a teaspoon of the fat or dripping into a 12 whole non-stick Yorkshire pudding tray.
  5. When the fat is smoking hot carefully fill each mould 2/3 full of the batter.
  6. Place the tray back in the centre of the oven & cook for 18-20 until fully risen & golden brown.
  7. Carefully remove from oven & serve immediately.

For the Horseradish

  • 100 g fresh Horseradish root
  • 1 tsp dijon mustard
  • 50 ml creme fraiche
  • Few drops lemon juice
  • Sea salt to taste


  1. Peel the horseradish & finely grate.
  2. Add to the creme fraiche, mustard & lemon juice.
  3. Season to taste.
  4. Best made a couple of hours in advance so the flavours can marry together.
  5. This will keep up to 5 days in the fridge.