Roast Beef of Old England: A Triumph of British Gastronomy

The following is a guest post.

Ah, roast beef. What is more quintessentially English then the great rare haunch of beef, surrounded by roasted potatoes and served with a Yorkshire pudding?

The image conjures up Merrie Old England at its merriest: John Bull, bucolic landscapes, puddings, ancient inns, and ale; rosy-cheeked serving wenches cavorting with rotund genial men in waistcoats.Times may change, but roast beef remains the prerogative of all Englishmen.

When mighty Roast Beef was the Englishman’s food,
It ennobled our brains and enriched our blood.
Our soldiers were brave and our courtiers were good
Oh! the Roast Beef of old England,
And old English Roast Beef!

-Fielding, “The Roast Beef of Old England”


1 3–4-lb. beef top sirloin roast,
Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper,
to taste
1⁄4 cup olive oil
2 cloves garlic, finely chopped

Season beef with salt and pepper. In a small bowl, mix together oil and garlic. Rub beef with garlic oil. Put beef in a roasting pan, cover loosely with plastic wrap, and refrigerate overnight. Remove beef from refrigerator and bring to room temperature. Heat oven to 450°. Remove plastic wrap and roast beef in a roasting pan until browned, about 20 minutes. Reduce temperature to 250°. Roast until a thermometer inserted into center of beef reads 120° (for medium rare), about 25 minutes. Remove from oven, transfer to a cutting board, and let rest, tented with foil, while you make the Yorkshire pudding and gravy. Pour pan drippings into bowl, leaving about 3 tbsp. in pan. Set roasting pan aside.

Yorkshire Pudding

4 large eggs
1 ½ cups milk
A pinch of coarse salt
1 ¼ cups of flour
4 tbs. of beef drippings

Pour the eggs and milk into a large mixing bowl and add the pinch of salt. Whisk thoroughly with an electric hand beater. Leave to stand for 10 minutes. Gradually add the flour to the mixture while beating. The batter should resemble heavy cream. Let the pudding rest for as long as possible. Using either a Yorkshire pudding tin or muffin tin, add the beef drippings and heat in the over until the fat smokes. Fill the tins and return to oven. Cook at 400° for approximately 20 minutes or until golden brown.

Drippings from Roast

1 cup of beef stock
½ cup of red wine
1 cup plus 2 tbs. flour

Heat reserved roasting pan over medium heat. Add wine; cook, scraping up browned bits, until reduced by half, 4–6 minutes. Whisk in remaining flour, followed by stock. Cook, whisking, until thick, about 5 minutes. Slice beef; serve with pudding and gravy. Garnish with chopped parsley.


Stephanie E. McCarthy is an attorney and mystery writer living in Peoria, Illinois. Her first mystery, Murder, Actually, will be published by Attica Books in January 2013. Visit Stephanie’s website.


  1. Kara says

    Oh how I adore Yorkshire pudding. Everytime my mom made a roast I asked (begged) for it.

  2. Pauline Gordon says

    I always parboil my potatoes and then roast them around the meat for the last 15 mins. or so of cooking.

  3. Kathryn Kelly says

    LOVE that the recipes were added, as I don’t know Yorkshire puddings from memory. Making them tomorrow with my leftover Sunday roast!!

  4. Tracey says

    Yorkshire puddings are sweet or savoury as many of my ‘northern’ friends told me they would spread them with jam or lemon curd

  5. Helen says

    I boil the potatoes until almost cooked…. drain and bash around in the saucepan to break up the edges… with goose fat or drizzle olive oil over….. high heat top of the oven for half an hour………. golden crunchy on outside fluffy inside….delicious…….

  6. Kitty says

    Oh, that picture! I could devour it! Sigh. Not worth making for one, so could I come to someone’s house for dinner? :)