At Borough on Saturday I bought a lovely piece of silverside from Lizzie at Wild Beef, with every intention of cooking it for Sunday supper. But I spent Sunday morning cooking lunch for 56 people with Foodchain - a charity I volunteer with - and by Sunday night I was simply too tired to contemplate it. The man made sausage and fried egg sandwiches instead - and most fine they were too.
So last night we had roast beef instead. The idea of a midweek roast may seem a little daunting, or at the least that it will take too long to cook but in fact it is very straightforward with a great end result. That there is only the two of us makes it simpler, perhaps but this could easily be done for four in the same time.
Preaheat the oven to gas 5. In a large roasting pan put a couple of tablespoons of olive oil and then in the centre of the pan put five or six unpeeled cloves of garlic, flattened under the blade of a kitchen knife. Place a piece of roasting beef - topside, top rump, silverside - that is about one kilo (2 pounds) in weight on top of the garlic. Next, peel the outside skin off a couple of large onions - one per person - and put those into the pan next to the meat. Peel three or four red fleshed sweet potatoes (the red are much sweeter than the white), cut them into chunks and scatter them in the available space in the pan. Drizzle a little more oil over the vegetables, then season meat and vegetables with salt and ground black pepper. Put the pan into the centre of the oven.
My cousin and his wife came over Monday night and very generously gave us a big bag of new potatoes that they had harvested from their own garden that very afternoon. They were a perfect accompaniment for beef - I simply rinsed the remaining soil from them and cut them in half then put them into a pan of salted water.
A perfect roast dinner must always have something green - and for our dinner last night the green of choice was brussel sprouts. I peeled the outer leaves from the fat little bulbs, cut a cross in the base - I don't know why but everyone does it - and put them into a separate pan of salted water.
Baste the meat and turn the vegetables every fifteen minutes. After the meat has been cooking for 50 minutes, turn the potatoes on to boil. After the meat has been in the oven for an hour, take it out, put it onto a warmed plate and cover tightly with aluminium foil. Put the roasted vegetables back into the oven and reduce the temperature to gas mark 2.
When the potatoes reach the boil, turn the heat on under the brussel sprouts and reduce the heat under the potatoes till the water simmers rapidly. Do the same for the sprouts when they reach boiling. Allow to cook for 10-15 minutes till tender.
Slice the beef thinly and put on to warmed plates. Add the roasted vegetables, drain the potatoes and serve, then drain the sprouts and add them to the plates. We didn't have gravy - it makes for a lighter meal though the man did add a slick of Polish horseradish.
Voila! - dinner is served. It' s not quick - the whole thing takes about ninety minutes - but there is very little prep involved, and what there is happens in the first five minutes.