Of all the roasting meats I do find beef the trickiest. Get it wrong and it is like chewing on flavoured shoe leather. The piece was top rump but I was still a bit nervous that it might end up tough. So I decided to slow roast it in stock for a few hours. As it happens, the selection of vegetables for roasting were perfect for this as they were chunks of red onion, carrot, parsnips and swede - very tasty.
At half past 3 on Sunday I set the oven to 140°C and browned the beef all over in a hot frying pan. Then I set it in the centre of the roasting tin and chucked the prepared vegetables around it. To add flavour I also chopped up a stick of celery, 3 cloves of garlic and a few springs of rosemary and threw these in too. Finally I poured in a pint of beef stock and covered the whole thing with foil.
I let the meat cook at this temperature until about 5 o'clock when I turned the temperature up to 190°C so that I could cook some roast potatoes too. I moved the meat to the very bottom of the oven at this point and cooked the roasts in their own tin above it.
At quarter to 7 I took the meat out to rest. Carefully I poured the stock off the vegetables and returned these to the oven to keep warm. Then I thickened the stock in a pan with a mixture of flour in cold water.
It was a lovely tasty dinner and the meat was suitably tender. It was, however, more than we could eat. Clearly M&S's idea of a meal for 4 would be for a family that included 2 teenage boys rather than two small girls!
Having watched a repeat of River Cottage Everyday, which had focused on lunch only the day before, I decided that the remains of this meal would make prefect Cornish pasties. So as I cleared the plates I chopped the leftover vegetables up into small chucks and put them into a box in the fridge. I saved a container of gravy too. Then on Tuesday when I went shopping I picked up a pack of puff pastry.
Tuesday afternoon I made the pasties. Firstly, I rolled out the pastry then used a saucer to cut out a total of 6 circles. I made the filling by combining small pieces of the cold beef, the chopped vegetables, some chopped up cooked potatoes and a few spoonfuls of gravy to moisten in all. This I spooned onto half of a circle of pastry then used milk to help seal it as I folded the pastry over and crimped it shut. Finally I glazed each pastie with milk and put a couple of steam vents into each before placing on a tray for the freezer.
There is something satisfying about looking down on 6 neatly made home made pasties, made even more so by virtue of making good use of leftovers. Let's hope that I am equally as satisfied when it comes to eating them!