It’s not often I allow my wife into the kitchen to cook (I’m joking, of course), but on the odd occasions she does, I am left gobsmacked by the results. She’s not just the breadwinner and a pretty face: she’s also a domestic goddess. How lucky am I?
Her meals are simpler than mine – but our kids love them just as much (in fact, more: disloyal buggers). But what the love most are her Sunday roasts.
It’s simple, wholesome cooking that brings the family together - but with an added sense of peril. For the 11-year-old has introduced a ‘Come Dine With Me meets Strictly Come…Cooking’ scoring element to the proceedings.
At the end of the meal, each of us marks the cook’s efforts on Timing, Presentation, Meat, Potatoes, Accompaniments and Gravy. More often than not, the harshest critic is the youngest who, at five years old, fancies himself as a Bruno Tonioli.
And I, of course, give the highest scores because I am no fool: if I make the wife happy, she lets me go to the pub afterwards.
Anyway, without further ado, here is my wife’s Pot Roast Beef Topside.
Beef topside joint, weighing approx. 2kg. We bought a Rare Breed joint form the farmers’ market.
2 tbsp Dijon mustard
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
500ml beef stock (from a cube is fine)
1 glass red wine
2 sprigs thyme
1 bay leaf
1 tsp cornflour
1. Preheat the oven to 150C/Gas 2. Pat the beef dry with kitchen towel and smother all over with the mustard. Season with salt and pepper. Add the herbs and stock to a lidded casserole pot, then add the meat. Cook in the oven for 2-3 hours until the meat is very tender.
2. Remove the beef from the pot and keep warm on a plate under tin foil. Remove the herbs from the pot and discard. With a spoon, skim off any excess fat from the surface of the stock. To make the gravy, put the pot on the hob and bring to a fierce boil. Mix the cornflour with a little water and whisk in to the stock to thicken.
3. Carve the beef into thick slices and serve with roast potatoes, roasted carrots and boiled cabbage, with a slurp of gravy.
Timing….33/40 (very good, except the cabbage was a little cold)
Presentation….36/40 (a very nice looking plate of food)
Meat…38/40 (‘As good as grandma’s')
Accompaniments (including Yorkshire puds)….29/40 (the skinniness of the carrots let it down – a result of cooking too long)
Potatoes….40/40 (declared the ‘best roast potatoes ever’)
Gravy….33/40 (very tasty, but a little runny)
The bar has been set….!