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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. Jayne Riddell

    Thank you for recipe tips never had a corner cut before and this was beautiful cooked to perfection

  2. Lisa Seago

    2.9kg four rib.
    Want it so its medium rare in the middle and well on the outside without it going dry.
    Anyone help

    • Danny Carey

      Hello Lisa – sorry, I did not see your question yesterday, so it’s probably too late for that meal.

      It’s the initial high temperature that nicely blackens the outside. Then the low temp does the cooking.

      Try the variation below next time as it gives timings – just add 15 minutes for medium rare. The joint will still be cooking while it is resting, so give it 15 minutes to relax after taking it out of the oven.

      I would be interested to know how you got on.

      • anthony brine


        i have a 2.7kg of beef and guests you like beef between rare and meduim rare. should i folllow the instructions above or add 15 mins do you think??

        im cooking today…

      • Danny Carey

        Hi Anthony – I have never cooked a joint that large, so my advice is a best educated guess. I think allow an extra 15 minutes cooking time. If it seems to be too rare for the medium rare fanciers, just put it back in the oven for a further 10 minutes or so. People who prefer rare will settle for medium rare usually, but the reverse certainly is not true.

  3. great recipe. can you tell me what is a substitute for beet dripping for the Yorkshire pudding?

  4. I am an american immigrant, and ordered a cut of highland cow for our christmas, the smallest, as there are only 3 of us. So no rib, instead this unfamiliar ‘corner cut’. Our plans suddenly changed, and the thing got frozen instead. We are having it today. Staring at it a bit, I thought it was from the round, but had to google to be sure. Thing cost too many ££ to mess up, and I havent cooked beef roast at home in years! Your excelent and simple directions are just the ticket.

    Thanks also for the cookery book tip. I have scores of US cookery books, but need to expand my UK collection for times like this.

  5. Wow! My wife often complains that I cook her steak too rare and makes me put it back on the griddle, not a big fan of the finer side of beef cooking! Used your times, cut her the end bits but she ended asking for a few slices of the rare section. She ate the lot. I went back for seconds, thirds, fourths!!! 1500g is prob about only about 200g on the board now!

  6. Laura

    Thank you so much for posting this guide – I used it a few weeks ago when cooking a Sunday Roast for my family.

    I was confused at first as the beef actually looked pretty dark as I started carving, almost medium-well, but it literally changed colour as the knife sliced through into a fantastic pinky red. Everyone loved it!

  7. Thank you so much for posting this recipe! I did this for Christmas lunch (with turkey too) and it was absolutely perfect! It actually made my timings easier as well as this went in after the turkey had come out to rest! We are still eating the leftover beef now and it’s gorgeous 🙂

  8. For those with meat thermometers: be aware that the internal temperature will continue to rise after you’ve taken it out of the oven. So if you want it to be 60C for example (too cooked for me), take it out of the oven when it’s no more than 54. The roast I cooked yesterday rose from 38C to 52C (just right) in 15 minutes’ resting! But I cooked it at a high temperature throughout, instead of turning the oven down after 15 minutes. I think the method here would result in a more modest rise.

  9. Absolutely brilliant recipe, I cook my 1st roast beef this weekend and it was a huge success!! Followed your instructions down to the last letter and what a treat it was to have beef this way.

    Many thanks. 🙂

  10. Take a look at this site has a really simple guide on roasting beef plus other tips

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