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Sunday Roast: Perfect rare roast beef recipe

perfect rare  roast beefWe reward ourselves once in a while with a really good joint of beef. It does a Sunday lunch plus at least a couple of meals during the week. Beef is easy as long as you have the three elements spot on: the choice of joint, temperature and timing. With beef, I found this all a bit overwhelming until I met Tommy Cody.

I worked at Tommy and Peggy’s house for about a month. They always insisted that I joined them for lunch. It was an elegant affair. Peggy and I were given pre lunch drinks to sip and could hear the happy clatter of saucepans and running water, getting more frenetic as the designated time approached. Tommy moved steadily towards the crescendo as we chatted in a wave of anticipation and wafts of delicious aromas.

Lunch was civilised – a starter of great soup, an excellent main course and a tempting pud. Always accompanied with a decent glass of wine. Eating lunch with Tommy and Peggy made me feel special. I loved the conversation, the food, the wine and the virgin napkins. These were replaced every day.

There was one major problem. I needed a snooze after such a spectacular lunch. T and P repaired to thier boltholes but I had to carry on working. It was a battle but so much better than a snatched sandwich in a chilly Jalopy.

Tommy took up cooking when he retired and had made the clever move of doing the shopping as well. As every great chef knows, shopping can be inspirational. And Tommy’s meals were impressive. Four weeks in their house was a great test. He never faltered.

Danny got pretty fed up with hearing about Tommy’s spectacular meals. For example, his roast beef was cooked on an electric spit in the kitchen. I only sampled it cold in a salad but it was heavenly. Eventually D insisted that I asked the name of the joint and its provenance.

Tommy tipped that the best joint for a succulent rare roast beef is a corner cut of beef. When Jalopy and I chugged over to our butcher (Fred Fitzpatrick, in the Exning Road). All I could remember was the word “corner”.

“Ah,” Fred laid down his cleaver.
“He must mean corner cut of beef.” I have never found this labeled as such in any normal supermarket but  having researched this, I think that it is similar to the best topside. Fred produced a lovely long joint and proceeded to cut the length we desired.

Perfect rare roast beef recipe

For medium rare or well done, simply cook the joint for longer (testing every 10 minutes)

Most cookbooks will give you timings and temperatures. We find Prue Leith (Leith’s Cookery Bible) gives the best results.

Needless to say we have tweaked. Here’s our favourite roast beef recipe that serves four with seconds. For bigger numbers, do check with Prue’s book or with your butcher.


  • 1.2 to 1.5 kg of corner of beef (less fat than rib roast but juicy, tender and tasty). For best reults use a jont of about 2 kg or over.
  • half tsp of ground sea salt (we love Maldon sea salt from a grinder)
  • 1 tsp of freshly ground black pepper
  • 3 tbsp olive oil


  1. Pre-heat the oven to 240 (220 fan assisted, gas mark 9). That blackens the outside for tasty outer slices.
  2. Make a mini-baking tray from foil, just bigger than the joint and place in a roasting tray. This will contain the juices in a smaller area than if just plonking the joint onto the tray. It helps keep the juices from drying out.
  3. If the surface of your joint is dry, just rub a little olive oil over it. Usually, we simply take ours from he fridge in its bag, so it’s still moist on the outside.
  4. Mix the salt and pepper and coat the joint all over.
  5. Pour the olive oil into your foil baking tray, place the seasoned joint on it and put it in the oven. Make sure that the oven has pre-heated fully.
  6. After 15 minutes, turn the temperature down to 180 (160 fan assisted, gas mark 4) and let it cook for a further 25 minutes per kilo (11 minutes per 450g/1 lb). For good rare beef, do not exceed these timings.
  7. Take it out of the oven and place it under a duvet of towels for 15 to 20 minutes. Make your gravy by pouring off the juices and simply adding carrot water (we always cook carrots with a Sunday roast. The juice helps to make great gravy when added to any meat juices).

Tips and tricks:

  • I used to think the resting a joint was crazy. Danny insisted on doing this and it really makes a diiference. The meat does relax and become more tender. I did a test. It makes a big diffrence.

  Leave a reply


  1. I always use this recipe for roasting rare beef, it’s been fantastic. I’m making my mother use it today as she’s cooking a roast, and it’s usually well-done, so I’ve insisted on her following these guidelines.

  2. Tried this recipe today; it was perfectly cooked & delicious!

  3. I cooked this using a 2.5kg piece of corner for my family last weekend, and was the first time I’d ever cooked roast beef.

    It was delicious, completely wonderful, very tender and the perfect colour in the middle. If only convincing my mother than an hour and fifteen minutes was enough time was as easy as actually cooking it.

    Will definately cook it again.

  4. Glad you enjoyed. I’m a bit of a caveman in the same way as you – the rarer the better.

    If anyone gives you any stick for this (some folk do actually LIKE their beef grey and dry) just play the Eco card ie. minimal use of electricity or gas.

    Strangely though, I’ve never heard anyone who’s ‘converted’ to rare beef utter the words “Going back to having it well done”.

    Funny that?

  5. Rob Thomas

    Worked out great in the end but Was probably more medium than rare. This was however my fault I fear. I used the timings I said above and used a meat thermometer which only got up to 54C. I had researched that 60C was needed for rare so I put it back in for about 5 mins. At this point the Thermometer reached 57C but I decided to rest it anyway for 30 mins. When I carved it was very juicy but beyond rare.Fortunately it still carved like a dream and was very very good Beef. I was just glad I didn’t spoil it and I shall cook it in this way again minus the extra 5 mins. Thank you.

  6. I’d probably cook this for no more than the time you suggest, and your temps and timings look pretty accurate.

    Do get it to room temperature firstly and resist temptation to keep putting it back to finish off. This is where most people go wrong. And the next time they have a bash at beef they keep to the same timings but lower the oven temp.

    Good fine grained beef must be served rare in my opinion. to cook it ‘through’ until grey is a waste of a nice joint.

    Go and enjoy, it’s virtually impossible to mess it up and in my opinion it impossible to undercook good beef.

  7. Rob Thomas

    Hi I have a joint of Topside 2.4kg given to me by my Mum. I would not normally use this kind of joint to roast especially for a special occasion but my hands are tied this time. The butcher tells me it is a prime joint from a local farmer and matured for at least 30 days. He vac-packed it for me on the 23rd December and I will cook it on the 2nd Jan.He told me to take it out the day before. I am in his hands that it will remain okay.It is fine as I speak (31st). I am going to try your method and I have calculated the cooking times at 15 mins-220c plus 60 mins-160c. What do you think? If you are unavailable before D-Day I will report back as to how I fared.

  8. I just made this for Christmas dinner. Absolutely amazing. 2.5 KG joint cooked to perfection. You’re my new favourite x

  9. Fiona Nevile

    Hi Diana

    Fingers crossed that it worked for you.

  10. I’m cooking this tomorrow for m boyfriend’s parents and sister (along wise mini yorkshire puds), fresh bread for starters, and nutella mousse for dessert. *fingers crossed*.

    I bought 1.5kg of angus topside from ocado, hopefully it’s good enough 0.o

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