The Mainland – Roast Rib of Beef and Yorkshire Pudding.

Rib of BeefI’m an Irishman and proud of it. I am married to an English lady. These are both good things on a number of levels: She has put up with me for over 20 years. We have two mostly wonderful daughters. Because of her origins, I can get away with stuff others can not. I can talk in slightly derogatory and jocular tones about ‘The Brits’ and excuse myself by admitting to being happily married to one.

My grandfather on my Dad’s side used to lead a Republican Flying Column in the Arigna Mountains in North County Roscommon. What we know of his history tells us he was a committed and very active Irish Republican. There are records and newspaper reports of his leading attacks on police barracks and of his column liberating food from trains to feed his men and the oppressed families of the region.

For many years during the times of the more recent ‘Troubles’, we Irish suffered some irksome treatment, intentional or otherwise, at the hands of our British neighbours. Anybody who had flown to Heathrow Airport from Ireland would be familiar with ‘The Irish Mile’ from the most extreme gates in the airport to the almost inevitable personal search. This treatment made worse for me because of my personal shame at some of the awful behaviour of the then Irish Republican Movement.

Times move on over generations and most of us here in Ireland have managed to put the divide behind us. However, there are a few things that still rankle. Very often, English visitors, in casual conversation, will refer to Britain as ‘The Mainland’. This can be irksome to one with my heritage. To compensate, there is a little game that I love to play. It’s really simple. I get my ‘Mainland’ in first. It is remarkable how satisfying it is to ask “How are things on the Mainland?” and look for any sign of a reaction. I have never had one. The conversation flows on, the visitor to our Island is oblivious and the Irish guy, for once, is in control.

To demonstrate my moving on from our mutual past, I am going to cook the best of British using the finest Irish ingredients. As far as I can see the very pinnacle of British cuisine is Roast Beef and Yorkshire Pudding. So, that’s what I am doing.

A truly fine rib of Irish Beef. Following on from the ‘Lisa Saves the Day‘ post, John really came good with this beauty.

To do the best of British, you really do need the best of Irish. Start with an excellent rib of beef. This one weighed in at just over 2.5 kilos (5 lbs).

The beef seasoned with both coarse salt and lots of black pepper. Don’t be shy when it comes to the seasoning. Do all sides (except the inside).

It looks great from any angle.

Totally gratuitous beef shot number 1. I just had to do it. You just have to love it.

Pop the beef into a 200 degree centigrade oven for 20 minutes per half kilo. (If you like your beef well done, don’t do this, go to a restaurant and ask for it with a fried egg on top.) Then get on with preparing the ‘trimmings’ as some people refer to them.

Don’t forget to eat your greens. Top and tail the beans. Steam them for 5 minutes. Delicious, al-dente goodness.

Make your Yorkshire Pudding mix up to a couple of hours in advance. Get the mixture to room temperature before cooking.

All you will need to make wonderful Yorkshire Puddings.

The two measurements you need are 1. A sprinkle of salt. 2. 600mm of milk. I’m using the lactose free stuff because the daughters are both that way inflicted.

Add the eggs to the flour and salt. Add half the milk and beat it until smooth. Add the rest of the milk and beat it again. Let it rest for a while. Beat it again before dispensing.

They were salivating because I had taken a bit longer than promised in getting the meal to the table. I had to beat them away from it when I took it out of the oven.

Spoon some beef dripping from the roasting tray into the Yorkshire Pudding tin. Others may know it as a ‘muffin tin’. Why, I don’t know. Use enough to clog an artery. Heat it up in the oven until spitting.

Not a lot to say about this picture. The pudding mixture added to the pudding tray.

Add the batter as shown above. Note the beneficial dripping (fat). This is ‘good fat’. Good in that it adds great flavour. Perhaps not so good to have on your breakfast every morning. Roast these for 15 minutes or so while the beef rests in a tinfoil tent. They are done when they look like in the picture further down.

Sharpen your knife. Otherwise you will make a mess of the beef. Unconscionable.

There are two schools of thought on roast beef. Thin slices and thick slices. My late father was a pathologist who prided himself on his carving skills. I try to emulate him and am a thin slicer. The thick slicers lack finesse and appreciation of the finer things in life, or so I’ve heard.

Gravy Baby! You have to have excellent home-made gravy with the best beef.

Making the gravy. This activity goes on while the beef continues to rest. Add a tablespoon of flour to the residual dripping and flavouring bits at the bottom of the roasting pan. Gradually add a pint of beef stock and a glass of the wine. Season to taste. Stir it over a gentle heat until it is silky smooth and delicious. That reminds me: The Wine! This is a far better wine than the photo is a photo. It was the perfect match. We picked it up at the vineyard four or five years ago while lolling in the Dordogne in pre-recession times. What to match the traditional best of British? Something modern and French, of course. At Chateau Charter, they produce wine using modern methods and more science than tradition. We enjoyed the results.

The beef being carved. If you like it well done, don’t bother calling to our house.

This is the second unnecessary shot of the beef. Like I say, rare is not rare around these parts.

The Yorkshire Puddings. Straight out of the oven. Say goodbye to them now. Little time remains for these beauties.

Nothing to do now but to serve the drooling diners. While this is a pretty straightforward dish to prepare, it is murdered in restaurants the length and breadth of both Britain and Ireland. I know, I’ve eaten it.

I could not bring myself to leave it under the lights for any length of time. This is as good a shot as my stomach would allow.

Yes, I did pour the gravy into the Yorkshire Pudding. You will do it too if you try this British classic. I bet you do.

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Latest comments
  • Oh my god that looks perfect. I might just take you up on your offer to visit. Only problem is I need my dollars too.

  • Beautiful, beautiful piece of beef. Bravo!

  • Ok Colin,
    Now you have done it! When I was in Ireland in 2006 my host family kept trying to cook my steaks well-done. Your Irish beef is so compellingly tasty that in my mind to cook it to this temperature was akin to calling the Pope a tosser to his face.
    You have prepared a meal here worth a plane ticket. I would happily bring a bottle of Lynch Bages or Chateau Montrose from the cellar for a slab of that lovely cow and some of those buttery bits of beef-browned pudding.

    • There was a great bonus. Eating it cold the next day…

      • there would be none left for the next day if I was there..we would have to go back to full-Irish for brekfast

  • Conor,

    Your dishes look amazing as always!

    And your posts are so entertaining! Keep ’em coming 🙂

  • What a feast! 😉

  • Lovely pudds and thanks for the “beef cake” shots.

  • My Uncle was a Union leader in Ireland back in the 70s and 80s and he used to drive over with my Aunt (English) and my cousin to visit. It used to freak my old man out because he worked for the Ministry of this or that (it always changes in the Civil Service) and had taken the Oath of secrecy or something. One day my Uncle took a day trip to the South Coast with his family in his Irish registered Datsun. They got lost and ended up in a housing estate on the Surrey-Hampshire boarder. My Aunt said he suddenly shouted ‘shite’ or words to that effect and drove at double speed out of there; they had driven straight into the middle of an Army family estate. Those were the days…

    • That brings to mind driving from Dublin to Donegal back in the day. One could go the long way and avoid the North or go the short way and risk impromptu army checkpoints on both sides of the crossing or perhaps the IRA doing likewise. One time we took the short route and got lost. No fun in an Irish reg car driving around roundabouts with red white and blue curb stones. Thankfully we have (most of us anyway) moved on.

  • This is oh so true. I know what you mean about the ‘Mainland’ comments, they drive me insane too and at times I find it rather arrogant, and I’m a Brit. I’ve been living in Ireland for 5 years (relatively short) and I’ve embraced this as my new home. I’m proud of the Irish people, what they’ve had to endure and their fighting spirit and I’d stand shoulder to shoulder with you all anytime.

    Being a Yorkshire Lass, your roast beef and Yorkshire Puds are perfect. I remember ordering Yorkshire puddings in a restaurant in Dublin, they were so hard, as i stuck my knife in, the pudding shot off my plate and across the floor. Sooo funny and embarrassing all at the same time. 🙂

    Loving the blog, very entertaining.

    • thanks Claire. I like your idea of nipping out to shoot the locality at lunch. Not a lot of merit to shoot in sunny Sandyford, however.
      Best,
      Conor

  • This looks great! Hey – why wasn’t I invited over for dinner? 🙂

  • Conor – you take GREAT photos! WOW! Thanks for your comments on my blog – am new to this – and I loooooove your food!

  • Outstanding photography as usual and it looks delicious! Totally agree on always eating beef (medium) rare.

  • The beef looks amazing!! Great photos, and as usual, you’ve inspired me to cook more 🙂

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