Are you looking for the best roast beef for Christmas dinner? You’re not 100% sure what a roast beef is, but that’s okay. We’ll cover that later, but first we’ll cover the steps for making a perfect roast beef recipe.
Roast beef is a traditional meal served during Christmas. Many countries celebrate the Christmas holiday. While the ingredients in the traditional meal vary by country, the main dish is usually roast beef. Here are some tips to help you prepare roast beef for Christmas dinner that will be enjoyed by everyone at the celebration.
Festive Christmas Roast Recipes
Holiday season calls for festive and celebratory meals, and a showstopping Christmas roast definitely fits the bill. Try your hand at a simple Three-Ingredient Prime Rib Roast, Garlicky Roast Pork Shoulder, or an impressive platter of Roasted Goose Legs with Sour Cherry Glaze and Gravy. With more than 15 Christmas roast dinner recipes to choose, you may not need any other centerpiece on the holiday table.
Goose Stuffed with Apples and Armagnac-Soaked Prunes
By making a stuffing that combines boozy prunes with apples and garlic, Nadine Levy Redzepi hits the nail on the Christmas roast head.
Pork Roast with Sausage, Fruit and Nut Stuffing
Pork and fruit is a classic pairing around the world, but this dish from chef José Andrés gets a particularly Catalan flavor from the combination of dried fruit and butifarra (a Catalan cured pork sausage) in the stuffing. The stuffing cooks inside the roast, which gives it a deep, marvelously porky flavor.
Standing Pork Rib Roast with Cracklings
Aside from the pork itself, there’s only one other ingredient in butcher Erika Nakamura’s succulent rib roast: kosher salt.
This crowd-pleasing porchetta, made from brined, seasoned pork belly, has crisp, crackling skin and tender meat flavored with rosemary, garlic and fennel.
Three-Ingredient Prime Rib Roast
Coffee and prime rib seem like unlikely partners, but Ryan Farr’s recipe reveals they both have an earthy quality that makes them a natural match. Just be sure to scrape off any excess coffee rub from the meat before serving.
Rosemary-Pepper Beef Rib Roast with Porcini Jus
In this beef rib roast recipe from the late renowned chef Floyd Cardoz, the meat is seared in a preheated pan in the oven, saving stove space. The method also helps the meat cook more quickly.
Horseradish-Crusted Roast Beef
This roast—deliciously crusted with horseradish and black peppercorns—is perfect hot out of the oven, but it’s also amazing cold on a sandwich: Thinly slice the roast beef and serve it on white bread with horseradish mayonnaise and juicy tomatoes.
Chef Akasha Richmond prepares a sweet-and-spicy glaze for ham using house-made pomegranate-jalapeño jelly. An easier alternative: doctoring store-bought jalapeño jelly with pomegranate juice.
Duck à l’Orange
Because a single duck rarely has enough meat to feed more than two or three people, Jacques Pépin prepares two ducks side by side when serving this classic dish to guests. And because he’s roasting whole ducks, he cooks them until they’re well done, which results in the crispiest skin and best flavor.
Harissa-Crusted Pork Crown Roast
For this pork crown roast recipe, Melissa Rubel Jacobson replaced the run-of-the-mill garlic-herb coating with a smoky harissa version. “I love the way it turns from a paste to a crispy crust,” she says.
Standing Rib Roast of Beef
This roasting method is an adaptation of the classic English approach, and who can argue with the Brits when it comes to roasting a joint of beef? This roast is cooked to medium rare; it comes out of the oven at 120°F and reaches 130°F to 135°F as it rests before carving. If you like your meat cooked to medium, roast it to 130°F.
Juniper-Rubbed Roast Duck with Cherry Jus
Chef Angie Mar’s succulent roast duck brings new meaning to the term “show-stopper.”
Roasted Goose Legs with Sour Cherry Glaze and Gravy
Food & Wine editor Melanie Hansche reimagines the traditions of her hometown of Garmisch-Partenkirchen in Bavaria, Germany, in her recipe for sour cherry–glazed roasted goose legs. In Bavaria, it’s not Christmas without roast goose, but roasting individual legs makes it a more manageable endeavor. Geese are fatty birds and will render a lot of delicious fat, which you can keep on hand for roasting vegetables. Draining off the fat halfway through cooking will yield better pan juices for gravy at the end. The goose legs cook for a total of two hours. Basting regularly and glazing in the last 15 minutes of cooking time give these goose legs their gorgeously crisp, lacquered skin.
Leg of Lamb with Fingerling Potatoes and Leeks
Incredibly easy to prepare, this bone-in leg of lamb is coated with an herby, pleasantly salty crust before marinating in the refrigerator for about eight hours. The dry brine results in a juicy, tender, and deliciously garlicky lamb roast.
Garlicky Roast Pork Shoulder
Chef Jose Enrique’s version of the Puerto Rican classic pernil asado is extra-flavorful because he marinates the pork in lime and orange juices, as well as plenty of garlic, before roasting until the meat is caramelized and crispy. It can be carved, shredded or pulled into large pieces for serving. It’s no wonder that pernil is a traditional Christmas dish that’s ideal for family gatherings.
Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall’s perfect roast beef Christmas lunch
Several years ago now, largely at my instigation, the turkey got fired from our family Christmas dinner. Its dismissal from festive duty wasn’t a decision we took lightly but, and I think I speak for the whole family here, it certainly isn’t one we regret.
We had done everything to breathe life into the old bird. We’d spent about as much as you could on a turkey, opting for a free range, organic, slow-grown bird, corn-fed by West Country wenches and subsequently (rather than consequently) well-hung, with its guts in, for an extra gamey flavour. We’d deployed culinary tips from the great and good (the best of these: Anton Mosimann says cook the legs separately, like a coq au vin). We’d adorned it with the most sophisticated, souped-up trimmings: armagnac-soaked prunes wrapped in bacon; grated sprouts stir-fried with ginger, chestnuts and sesame oil; home-made chipolatas incorporating the bird’s minced liver and fresh truffles. The trimmings were wonderful. But the bird itself seemed unworthy of their flattery.
It’s hard to be precise about why I felt, increasingly, that turkey was failing to deliver. It doesn’t have to be bland and dry – though these pitfalls are all too rarely avoided. Yet even the juiciest, gamiest, most crisply-skinned bird – of a kind I feel we’ve achieved at least a couple of times – wasn’t doing it for me. Something was missing, and I went looking for it.
Whether you are religious or, like me, not, you may see the Christmas meal as something pretty sacred. It is a time when we are looking to feed our better selves. The food we choose to eat needs to spread love, warmth, goodwill, forgiveness and optimism around a large table of people who, though bonded together by varying levels of shared genes and shared history, might not otherwise choose to sit down and eat together. It needs to weave a spell of magic that suspends any disbelief in the meaning of family, and indeed in the meaning of Christmas. And although normal, sceptical service is likely to resume with the Boxing Day hangover, something of the spirit of that meal should linger deep in the unconscious, helping to keep us sane and sanguine for the next 12 months.
This is a tall order, and the mild white flesh of the turkey, even at its best, simply isn’t up to the job. What’s required is something heartier, richer and more intense. What’s needed is a flesh whose savour runs deep because its fats are dispersed, in fine grains, throughout the meat. Something that reveals itself slowly, through chewing, then yields completely. A meat whose surface, seared by the heat of a fierce oven, creates a flavour that is the very essence of savouriness, yet whose interior is so matured, tender and relaxed, it could be served raw, like sushi.
I said ‘sanguine’, and on Christmas day, I want to taste blood. It’s time to bring on the beef. Not just any old beef, mind, but a massive, well-aged, beautifully marbled joint of roast beef on the bone. Personally, I favour about six ribs-worth of the sirloin, with the fillet still attached on the concave side. A whole forerib would feed slightly less (though easily 12), but be every bit as good. You need a good butcher, not a supermarket, because you want to insist that your joint has been hung for at least three weeks. And it should be from a pure beef breed, not a dairy-cross (in the absence of reliable guidance from a trustworthy butcher, Aberdeen Angus is the safe bet).
I raise and hang my own beef, from Devon Ruby cattle, here on my small Dorset farm. This means I can take risks in the hanging that a high street butcher wouldn’t. Last year I killed a steer on 1 November and asked my small local abattoir to hang it until mid-December. Then I chose my sirloin roast and hung it myself in a cool outbuilding until Christmas Eve. I had to trim off a fluffy bloom of mould and a few iffy bits. What was left was as a good a piece of beef as I have ever cooked or tasted – ambrosia for the meat-eating gods.
Come Christmas Day, a piece of meat like this will do the talking. Meanwhile, selling the idea of beef at Christmas to the rest of the family may not be the easiest job in the world. Be ready for resistance. Here’s a few marketing strategies to help you deal with the inevitable verbal obstructions.
‘It’s not traditional enough,’ some will complain. Well it’s pretty bloody traditional: roast beef, Yorkshire pudding, roast potatoes, good gravy, horseradish sauce – it’s always been rated as the all-time great Sunday Lunch (or ‘Roast Dinner’, depending on your social origins). Just add crackers, party hats and tinsel and it shouldn’t be too much of a struggle to feel festive.
‘But we have it quite often anyway.’ Explain that it is your mission, as a host and a cook, to take their experience of roast beef to a new level. You want one year’s grace for the experiment. If they don’t like it, they can vote back the turkey the following year.
‘It won’t look right.’ Granted, a 30lb turkey looks pretty spectacular when brought to the table. But it also looks pretty sad when sitting on the sideboard, some hours after 20 hungry mouths have all done their worst, yet only managed to remove half a lily-white breast and a drumstick like a weightlifters forearm. And when, if ever, have they ever beheld the spectacle of a whole roast forerib or sirloin of beef-on-the-bone, ribs arching for the sky, blackened with caramelised meat sugars, primal, succulent, and oozing pink juices. Because that’s pretty spectacular too.
Take the vote on the red-blooded version of Christmas dinner while the mince pies are being munched. You don’t have to tell your guests that they too are full of the seasonally essential savour of good red meat. By now they should be getting the message.
Happy Bloody Christmas, everybody!
Roast Beef with the trimmings
1 joint aged rib of beef, on the bone, or aged sirloin, on the bone
A little olive oil or good fat
Salt, fresh ground black pepper
Pre-heat the oven to 220C. Massage the whole joint with olive oil or soft dripping and season lightly, all over, with salt and pepper. Place on a roasting tray and put in the oven. Cook on this high heat for about 30 minutes, until the meat is well-browned and sizzling in the pan.
Then turn the oven down to 180C, (and leave the oven door open for half a minute to help it cool quickly). After the ‘half-hour-sizzle’, allow 10-12 minutes per pound at 180C for very pink meat, 12- 15 for medium rare.
Remove from the oven, place the joint on a warm serving plate or carving tray, cover loosely with a piece of foil, and leave to rest for no less than half an hour before carving and serving. This ‘relaxing’ of the joint is no hocus pocus ritual of old time cooks – it makes a vital difference to the final tenderness of the meat.
While the meat is relaxing, you can deglaze the pan and attend to the Yorkshire puddings.
The Yorkshire pudding
I like to make a whole pudding in a single big roasting tin, then slice it, rather than create individual Yorkshire puddings. It looks better and feels more generous.
250g plain flour
1 level tsp salt
4 medium eggs, plus 2 egg yolks
2 tbsps olive oil
Choose a roasting tin or oven-proof dish 40cm x 25, or similar. Add all the ingredients except the oil to the bowl of a food processor, with the plunger removed to help aeration, and pulse for about five 10-second bursts until you have a smooth batter the consistency of thick paint. Alternatively, add the flour and salt to a large mixing basin, beat in the eggs and yolks, then whisk in the combined milks and water by degrees, until you have your smooth batter.
Rest the batter for at least half an hour before making the puddings. At any rate you should not put the puddings in the oven until you have removed the beef and set it to rest. You can then turn up the oven to 210C. Pre-heat the tin, with the two tablespoons of olive oil in it, for at least five minutes. (If a few drops of the batter don’t sizzle when dropped in the tin, leave it in the oven for another 5 minutes.) So, pour the batter into the hot, sizzling tin, return it to the oven and leave for 12-15 minutes, until well puffed up and golden brown. Now you can think about carving the beef.
Beef bone gravy
It’s Christmas, the joint of beef is on trial, and you are about to make the best gravy of your life. Do it the day, or several days, before the big meal.
At least 4 kilos fresh beef bones, including at least one marrow bone
1 kilo fresh shin of beef, in one or two large pieces
Stock vegetables, ie 4 large carrots, 4 leeks, 4 onions, half a head of celery
2 bay leaves
Sprig of thyme, if handy
A few peppercorns
Bottle red wine
In a hot oven (210C) roast all the bones for 15-20 minutes until sizzling and nicely browned. Place the browned bones and the fresh piece of shin in your largest stock pot and cover by at least half an inch with cold water. Bring to boiling point, but never allow more than the most tremulous simmer. Patches of dirty grey-brown bubbles (scum!) will appear on the surface. Skim these off with a spoon. When the only scum appearing is a clean white colour, you can stop skimming.
Now add the vegetables, washed and cut up into chunky pieces, and the herbs. Bring back to your slow, tremulous simmer, and cook for 4-5 hours minimum, ideally 6 or 7. (Remove the shin after 3 hours if you want to eat it – delicious cold and dressed with a mustardy vinaigrette).
Strain the stock into a clean pan or large basin. Discard the vegetables and bones (feed both to the dog if you like). Leave the stock in a fridge or cool place, ideally overnight, so the stock turns to jelly and the fat sets hard on the top. Carefully remove all the fat and discard.
Warm up the stock over a gentle heat, so it liquifies completely, then strain it carefully through muslin or a cotton cloth. Transfer to a clean heavy-based pan of at least 4 litres capacity, add the wine, and boil hard to reduce. As it becomes darker and more concentrated, taste regularly. It will taste like it needs salt but don’t be tempted to add it yet as it will get much too salty as it reduces. Stop when you have a rich, concentrated beefy sauce that is lightly syrupy but not too sticky. Only at this point should you season, to taste, with salt.
You can keep this sauce, chilled as a jelly, in the fridge for up to a week. To serve it with the beef, gently warm it until not quite boiling, and ‘refresh’ with a few drops of new wine, before serving.
You can also add the deglazed pan juices from the roasting tray, but make sure they are not too salty, and not too fatty, or they will spoil all your hard work.
Creamed fresh horseradish
100g piece fresh horseradish root,
2 tsps good (aged if possible) vinegar
1 good tsp made English mustard
125g crème fraîche
A pinch salt
A twist of black pepper
Peel and finely grate the horseradish. Combine it with the vinegar and mustard, mix well and leave to macerate for 10 minutes. Mix again. Stir in the crème fraîche and season to taste.
Serve with roast potatoes, greens with leeks and mustard-glazed carrots.