I love a good roast but it’s a tricky bit of timing sometimes. Roast potatoes take ages, rare meat doesn’t and making gravy can only happen after everything is ready to go, what a nightmare. This was also a chance to experiment with something I thought* would work - roasted pickled onions.

You will need

  • A rib of beef. Mine was 1 bone wide and about a kilo
  • A jar of pickled onions
  • English mustard powder
  • Black pepper corns
  • Onion powder
  • A lug of olive oil
  • A big spring of woody thyme
  • A few tablespoons of single cream
  • A gravy stock pot
  • Potatoes
  • Sunflower oil
  • A heaped tablespoon of fine semolina or plain flower
  • Clingfilm


  1. Mix a heaped teaspoon each of ground black pepper, onion powder and mustard.
  2. Bind with enough olive oil to make a thick paste
  3. Score the beef reasonably deeply (4mm or so), across both the meat and the fat
  4. Run the paste into the beef, getting it into the scores and crevises
  5. Leave meat for as long as possible - mine was out overnight so the outside dried a bit which was excellent. Once you’re 60 minutes before you want to serve…
  6. Put the oven on at 200 degrees, you’re gong to want it up to temperature
  7. Quarter the potatoes and stick under cold water with a bit of salt. Turn the heat up.
  8. Once the water is boiling turn the heat down and cover. You’re going to be boiling them so a scant 2 minutes.
  9. Put enough sunflower oil into a roasting tray to cover the bottom with a few millimeters, stick it in the oven to heat
  10. Drain the potatoes, shake, stick them back in the hot pan on a low heat for a minute.
  11. Add the semolina or plain flour, shake pan gently. Potatoes should be dry, a little beaten up but pretty whole.
  12. Dump the potatoes into the tray of hot fat, then pour the whole lot back into the pan, give it a shake, then pour it all back into the roasting try, then get it back in the oven. All surfaces of the potatoes should have covered in oil. Stick them on the bottom shelf
  13. Drain the pickled onions and wash clean. Shake dry. Put them in the roasting tin.
  14. Pop your beef in a roasting tin sitting on a good big sprig of thyme. Bang it in the oven on the top self without a lid.
  15. Roast hot and hard for about 40 minutes. Turn once or twice. Meat should be reasonably blacked on the outside, onions should be browned on the outside.
  16. Take the beef out and wrap it tightly in clingflim. Don’t panic that it all goes floppy and rubbish. Pour the fat out of the tin (all of it)
  17. Wrap beef in a towel and stash somewhere warm to rest. Leave the pickled onions and thyme in the tray.
  18. Potatoes will be another 20+ minutes. Pop them onto the top shelf.
  19. When you’re 5 mins from serving, put the beef roasting tin onto your hot ring.
  20. Add a pint of hot water and the stock pot to the roasting tin with the thyme and little onions
  21. Work the stuck on bits off the tin and keep it moving as you reduce to about half
  22. Take to potatoes out of the oven
  23. When you unwrap the meat pour the juice into the gravy.
  24. Turn off the heat to the tin and add the cream, give it a good stir up.
  25. Serve. Beef should be rare in the middle but with a crispy outside.


Rare in the middle yet blackened on the outside, fat soft and delicious. The outside is spicy without being hot. The gray should be rich but the vinegar should cut thought the cream.

The beef, lemon for scale Scored, seasoned and resting After roasting Before wrapping These are the best roasties I've ever made Quick and easy I left the thyme in Before carving