It’s St George’s day. England’s annual day for naval gazing and chuntering on about how we should celebrate it more. Except of course, we never do because we’re English and that would never do. It’s a shame really as we’ve a lot to shout about these days.
Although I know an acquired taste, especially with our Antipodean and trans-Atlantic friends, we produce some truly excellent ales. We farm great produce and now thanks to a millennia of trade links, are welcoming of cuisines from all around Europe and the world.
Of course this is a food blog and so I’m looking at it from a very narrow angle. I felt compelled therefore to try and wave a flag in recognition and save this post until today, being a typically English dish. Maybe the typical English dish.
I’m doing nothing to dispel the French notion that we all eat Roast Beef, but it is for a very good reason! It’s delicious. To partner, the classic Yorkshire pudding, cauliflower cheese and, as I believe it’s probably a law dating back to 1738 or something*, roast potatoes.
(* That isn’t true, neither is the ‘law’ that states you can still kill Welshmen with a longbow)
The beef was actually a lovely thick piece of Sirloin, off the bone and only about a rib thick, like a thick steak. I cooked it a little differently this time as I have a fancy oven setting called Low Temperature Cooking, which surprisingly does just that (it’s a beautiful example of efficient German naming). You simply sear the edges, for flavour, and then set it away for two to three hours – kind of like a sous vide in reverse. No resting, or precise timing needed.
I prefer a couple of smaller Yorkshire puddings than the biscuit barrel sized version you often find filled in pubs – the secret, apart from the batter, is to get the oil in the baking tray smoking hot first. It won’t fail you.
Cauliflower cheese is a favourite of mine and it is quite simple yet utterly delicious. Some cabbage would have been good, but I forgot it so we only had carrot as the other veg.
I made the gravy from a roast bone stock I had in the freezer, fried onion and a good splash of red wine and thyme. A nod to our French neighbours!
1 700g/24 oz sirloin steak – serves two with left overs.
For the Yorkshire Puddings (I can’t remember the source of this, I have it written down, but it works well):
- 250g plain flour
- 4 free range eggs
- 150ml whole milk mixed with 150ml water
- Salt and pepper
Roast the steak medium rare, as I like it. There is no one method or technique, as it will depend on the roast you have and the type of oven you’re using!
About an 1 hour before the meat is done, peel and par boil some Maris Piper potatoes, rough up in a colander when draining and roast in a hot, hot oven for about 45mins – 1hour. Season and turn occasionally.
For the Yorkshire puddings, mix the eggs and flours to a paste and gently pouring the milk, whisking as you do so. A food mixer makes this easy. Season with salt.
In a cake/muffin tin, add a 1-2 tsp oil and put in the oven at 220 degrees C until smoking.
Pour in the batter and it should sizzle. Place it back in the oven for about 20 minutes or until beautifully risen and golden!
The cauliflower is simply par boiled then covered in a simple cheese sauce (made from a roux, about 400ml whole milk and 2 handfuls of grated cheddar) and roasted for about 30 minutes until coloured on top.
The gravy is a reduction of the stock and a glass of red wine, with the thyme and seasoning added towards the end as needed.