Rôti de boeuf

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Roast beef, French style

Beef roasted in the French style is served quite rare, and for a small roast a French butcher may instruct you to cook it for as little as 10 minutes. Unless the roast is quite long and narrow, e.g. a thin fillet, you will need to roast it longer than that. The rule of thumb is 15 minutes per pound (450 grams) of meat for a medium-rare roast.

If possible, have your butcher bard the meat. The bard is a thin layer of pork fat placed around the sides of the beef. It’s not essential, but will ensure a juicier roast.

As for which cut to choose, the names vary around the world — but if you’re looking for a great roast, let the price be your guide (more expensive = better cut). This recipe is for a boneless roast, like tenderloin or fillet. The oven time for a rib roast would be longer.

a 2-pound (900 g) roast of beef, barded and bound with string
1 clove garlic
2 tsp. olive oil
1 sprig fresh thyme, or 1/4 tsp. dried thyme
salt and freshly ground black pepper

Preheat the oven to gas mark 8 (450 F, 230 C). This is theoretically as hot at it gets.

Peel the garlic clove, cut it in half lengthwise and slice the halves into slivers.

Insert the point of a sharp knife into the roast, remove, and insert a garlic sliver. Repeat all around the roast until you have used up the garlic.

Spread half the olive oil around the bottom and sides of your roasting pan, the other half around the meat. Sprinkle with thyme leaves.

Place the beef in the oiled pan, turn the oven down to gas mark 7 (425 F, 210 C) and roast 25 minutes for very rare meat, 30 minutes for medium rare, 35 minutes for medium. Allow to rest for a few minutes after removing from oven. Serves 4-5.

If serving the roast cold, allow it to cool to room temperature and refrigerate for at least one hour before slicing. The sliced beef may be returned to the fridge, but should be removed 30 minutes before serving for maximum flavor.


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