Summer roast beef

Everywhere in Italy, you get slices of cold roast beef (topside generally) served with olive-oily juices scented with garlic. This is a great summer meal (as opposed to winter roast beef with all the trimmings). Of course, you should have the first helping when the joint is still hot with, perhaps, potatoes roasted round the meat and a green salad wilted with the juices. For this to be the treat it should be, every single ingredient needs to be the best you can find or afford.


1 joint topside or rolled sirloin (the latter about £45 for 2kg and very luxurious). It should be 1.5kg minimum

Olive oil

Herbed salt and pepper

Garlic cloves, fresh if possible

Rosemary twigs


Insert the garlic cloves down the centre of the joint by cutting a hole, then pushing them in with your fingers. Add the rosemary twigs. Drizzle the meat with good olive oil – I like Tuscan best. Cook it in a hot oven for 15 minutes per 450g, because this roast must be rare. Before serving the joint hot, leave it to rest for 15?30 minutes, which will give the roast potatoes a bit longer to crisp.

When you eat it cold, serve it with good Dijon mustard or horseradish sauce (none of those which include turnip in the recipe). It’s wonderful in sandwiches with a touch of dripping, Maldon salt and the brown gooey juices. Serve it cold with jacket potatoes, followed by a tomato salad. It’s also good with celery rémoulade or with fresh French breakfast radishes and unsalted butter on the side. Or just on its own, with good bread and butter. That £45 joint will give 10 generous helpings, which works out at £4.50 each, so it’s pretty good value after all.