Archive of BBC Food Recipes

The ultimate Christmas roast beef

Prep time overnight
Cook time overnight
Serves 6-8
From Home Comforts at Christmas
James Martin ditches the Christmas turkey in favour of a failsafe step-by-step roast beef recipe with all the trimmings. Start your preparations the night before to avoid last-minute stress.


  1. First prepare the Yorkshire pudding batter. Pour the flour into a large mixing bowl. Make a well in the centre, then whisk in the eggs one at a time, bringing in the flour from the insides of the well as you do so.

  2. Gradually whisk in the milk until the batter is smooth and well combined. Season with salt and pepper, then cover the bowl and chill in the fridge overnight.

  3. You can also prepare the vegetables a day in advance. Bring a large pan of salted water to the boil. Prepare a large bowl of iced water. Add the cauliflower florets to the boiling water and boil for 4-5 minutes, or until perfectly tender. Remove from the pan using a slotted spoon and plunge into the bowl of iced water. Set aside until the florets have cooled (this will prevent them from continuing to cook). Drain, transfer to a roasting tray and set aside.

  4. Repeat the process with the French beans, simmering them for just 2-3 minutes. Add the drained, cooled beans to the tray.

  5. Repeat the process with the broccoli florets, simmering them for 1-2 minutes. Add the drained, cooled broccoli to the tray.

  6. Repeat the process with the carrot batons, simmering them for 6-7 minutes. Add the drained, cooled carrot to the tray.

  7. This will ensure you have all the vegetables prepared and perfectly cooked ready to reheat on the day. Chill all of the vegetables, covered, in the roasting tray (or in a re-sealable food bag or plastic container) until needed.

  8. On Christmas Day, prepare the beef. Preheat the oven to 200C/180C Fan/Gas 6.

  9. Score the fat of the beef in a criss-cross pattern using a sharp knife, then season the beef generously with salt and pepper.

  10. Heat a frying pan over a high heat. When the pan is very hot, add 25g/1oz of the beef dripping and, when it has melted, fry the beef on all sides until browned all over.

  11. Place the beef joint, fat side facing downwards, into a roasting tray and roast for 45-50 minutes (for medium-rare) or longer until cooked to your liking – although bear in mind that the meat will continue to cook as it rests. Turn the beef joint halfway through the cooking time. When the beef is cooked to your liking, transfer it to a large plate, cover with aluminium foil and set aside to rest for 30 minutes.

  12. Meanwhile for the gravy, return the frying pan containing the meat juices to a medium heat and, when it is hot, add the wine. Bring the mixture to a simmer and continue to simmer until the volume of liquid has reduced by half.

  13. Add the beef stock and return the mixture to a simmer, simmering until the volume of liquid has reduced by one-third, then season with salt and pepper. Strain the gravy into a jug or gravy boat. Cover and keep warm until needed (you may need to reheat it before serving).

  14. Next, make the roast potatoes. Place the potatoes into a large saucepan, cover with cold water, add a pinch of salt and bring to the boil. Reduce the heat until the water is simmering and simmer the potatoes for 3-4 minutes. Drain the potatoes using a colander and shake them around a little in the colander to roughen the edges. Set aside.

  15. When the beef has only 35 minutes left to cook, put 100g/3½oz of the remaining beef dripping or lard into a deep-sided roasting tray. Heat the fat in the oven for 5 minutes, or until smoking hot.

  16. Carefully add the cooked, drained potatoes to the hot fat, making sure you keep your face as far away from the roasting tray as possible in case the fat spits. Season the potatoes with sea salt, then return the roasting tray to the oven. Roast the potatoes with the beef for 30 minutes, or until they are starting to turn golden-brown and crisp.

  17. Turn the potatoes over after you remove the beef from the oven, then increase the oven temperature to 220C/200C Fan/Gas 7 and roast the potatoes for a further 30 minutes.

  18. As soon as you have turned the potatoes over, divide 100g/3¾oz of the remaining dripping or lard equally among the holes of two 12-hole muffin tins or Yorkshire pudding tins. Heat the fat in the oven for 10 minutes, or until smoking hot.

  19. Meanwhile, transfer the Yorkshire pudding batter to a jug. Carefully pour the Yorkshire pudding batter into the tins, filling each hole two-thirds full. Bake the Yorkshire puddings in the oven with the roast potatoes for the final 20 minutes that the potatoes should have left to cook, making sure you do not reopen the oven door.

  20. After 20 minutes, open the oven door slightly to allow any steam to escape. Remove the potatoes, which should be ready now (prick them with a sharp knife to check they are tender in the middle). Transfer to a serving dish and keep warm.

  21. Reduce the oven temperature to 190C/170C Fan/Gas 5. Continue to cook the Yorkshire puddings at this temperature for a further 12-15 minutes, or until crisp, risen and golden-brown. Transfer to a serving dish and keep warm.

  22. For the Brussels sprouts, heat the remaining dripping or lard in a large frying pan over a medium heat. Add the bacon and fry for 3-4 minutes, or until crisp and golden-brown.

  23. Add the sprouts and stir-fry for 2-3 minutes, or until just wilted. Add the chopped chestnuts, half of the butter and 2 tablespoons of water, then stir-fry until the chestnuts have heated through and the liquid has evaporated. Season with salt and pepper. Remove from the heat and keep warm.

  24. Finally, bring a large saucepan of salted water to the boil, add all of the blanched vegetables and simmer for 30 seconds, or until heated through. Drain well and transfer to a serving platter, dotted with the remaining butter.

  25. Serve the beef on a platter, surrounded by the roast potatoes on one side and the Brussels sprouts on the other. Serve the vegetables on a separate platter and the sauce in a gravy boat.


For the Yorkshire puddings

  • 225g/8oz plain flour
  • 8 free-range eggs
  • 600ml/20fl oz milk
  • sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

For the vegetables

  • 1 cauliflower, cut into large florets
  • 300g/10½oz French beans, trimmed
  • 1 broccoli, cut into large florets
  • 8 carrots, peeled and cut into batons

For the roast beef

  • 2.75kg/6lb 2oz whole beef sirloin, fat and sinew trimmed
  • 250g/9oz beef dripping or lard

For the gravy

  • 200ml/7fl oz red wine
  • 1 litre/1¾ pints beef stock

For the roast potatoes

  • 2kg/4lb 8oz large floury potatoes such as King Edward, each peeled and cut into 2 or 3 pieces

For the Brussels sprouts

  • 200g/7oz smoked streaky bacon slices, cut into lardons
  • 500g/1lb 2oz Brussels sprouts, trimmed and finely shredded
  • 250g/9oz cooked chestnuts, roughly chopped
  • 175g/6oz butter

Shopping List

The ultimate Christmas roast beef

Fruit and vegetables

Tins, packets and jars

Cooking ingredients


Dairy, eggs and chilled

Meat, fish and poultry

This link may stop to work if/when the BBC removes the recipes
This site is under development - You can use it, but some things are not completed and may not be quite right!