30 minute roast beef dinner

jamie oliver's 30 minute roast beef dinner

Jamie Oliver’s latest turn is to ratchet up the speed and get us making 30 Minute Meals. It’s always great fun watching Jamie when he’s enthusiastic, and there’s a real purpose to what he’s doing.

The one that caught my eye was the roast beef dinner. After much pleading from a pregnant Jools after a late finish, he worked up a method that captures the essence of a roast dinner. So I gave it a go.

How long did it take? 34 minutes. I did mess up a couple of things though: I didn’t fetch enough herbs for some reason, so that meant dashing off to the garden mid-meal to hack off some more rosemary and thyme; I used an attachment on my food processor I’ve not used before and it kind of mushed stuff a bit instead of chopping so had to do it by hand; and I forgot to add flour to the gravy so had to dig out the cornflour to work that in. I think it’s doable in 30 minutes, though it is a mad-crazy rush. Someone did ask me if it was possible even if you didn’t do much cooking. I think it is because there’s not a lot of skills involved, just a cool head and keeping an eye on everything.

mise en place

getting ready

The downsides? For it to work properly you need to get everything ready and set up beforehand. That said it’s great advice regardless of what you’re cooking. And it leaves a heck of a mess. And it must be said it’s not quite a roast dinner – very tasty – but not quite a roast dinner. I also don’t really see the point of the salad, it feels tacked on the side.

However accurate or inaccurate the 30 minute meal claim is for most people, Jamie’s trying to raise our expectations and make mealtimes great. Even if you end up a little over half an hour, it’s still great food in a respectable time.

30 minute roast beef (copied from Jamie’s recipe here):

For the potatoes:

500g red-skinned potatoes

1 lemon

4 sprigs of fresh thyme or rosemary

1 bulb of garlic

For the beef:

8 sprigs each of fresh rosemary, sage and thyme

700g fillet of beef

For the carrots:

500g small carrots

2 sprigs of fresh thyme

2 fresh bay leaves

1 heaped tablespoon caster sugar

A knob of butter

For the yorkies:

Just under 1 mug of plain flour

1 mug of milk

1 egg

For the salad:

½ a red onion

2 tablespoons red wine vinegar

1 tablespoon golden caster sugar

1 x 100g bag of prewashed watercress

For the gravy:

½ a red onion

12 baby button mushrooms

1 heaped tablespoon plain flour

1 small wineglass of red wine

300ml organic chicken stock

To serve:

Creamed horseradish sauce

English mustard

  1. TO START Get all your ingredients and equipment ready. Fill and boil the kettle. Turn the oven on to 220ºC/425ºF/gas 7, and place a 12 hole shallow bun tin on the top shelf. Put 1 large saucepan and 2 large frying pans on a medium heat. Put the fine slicer disc attachment into the food processor.
  2. POTATOES Wash the potatoes, leaving the skins on. Chop into 2cm chunks and throw into one of the large frying pans. Cover with boiling water, season with salt and cover with a lid. Turn the heat right up, and boil for 8minutes, or until just cooked. Fill and reboil the kettle.
  3. BEEF Quickly pick and finely chop the rosemary, sage and thyme leaves. Turn the heat under the empty frying pan up to full whack. Mix the herbs together and spread them around the chopping board with a good pinch of salt & pepper. Cut the fillet in half lengthways, then roll each piece back and forth so they are completely coated in herbs. Add the meat to the hot empty frying pan with a few good lugs of olive oil. You must turn it every minute while you get on with other jobs. Don’t forget to seal the ends.
  4. CARROTS Tip the carrots into the saucepan and just cover with boiling water. Add 2 sprigs of thyme, a couple of bay leaves, a good pinch of salt, a splash of olive oil and 1 heaped tablespoon of sugar. Cook with a lid on until tender.
  5. YORKIES Put the flour, milk and egg into the liquidizer with a pinch of salt. Blitz, then quickly and confidently remove the bun tin from the oven and close the door. In one quick movement, back and forth, drizzle a little olive oil in each compartment, then do the same with the batter until each one is half full (any remaining batter can be used for pancakes another day). Place in the top of the oven, close the door and do not open for 14 minutes, until golden and risen.
  6. POTATOES Check that the potatoes are cooked through, then drain and return to the same frying pan. Leave on a high heat and drizzle over some olive oil. Add a pinch of salt & pepper, speed-peel in strips of lemon zest and add 4 sprigs of thyme or rosemary. Halve the bulb of garlic widthways, squash each half with the back of a knife and add to the pan. Toss everything together, then roughly squash down with a masher. Toss every 3 minutes or so, until golden and crisp.
  7. GRAVY Reduce the heat under the beef a little. Peel the red onion half. Finely slice in the food processor. Add half the onion to the beef pan with a splash of olive oil, the other half to a salad bowl. Rinse the mushrooms in a colander and slice in the processor, then add to the beef pan. Stir everything around and remember to keep turning the beef regularly for 5 minutes.
  8. WATERCRESS SALAD Add 2 tablespoons of red wine vinegar, 1 tablespoon of caster sugar and a good pinch of salt & pepper to the onion bowl. Scrunch with one hand. Add 4 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil. Empty the watercress on top and take to the table, but don’t mix until serving.
  9. GRAVY Remove the beef to a plate. Drizzle with a little olive oil, then cover with foil. Stir 1 heaped tablespoon of flour into the pan. Add a small glass of red wine and turn the heat up. Boil down to nearly nothing, then stir in 300ml of chicken stock and simmer until thick and shiny.
  10. TO SERVE Drain the carrots, return to the pan, toss with butter and take to the table. Turn the potatoes out on to a platter. Smear 2 spoonfuls of horseradish sauce and 1 teaspoon of English mustard on to another platter. Quickly slice the beef 1cm thick, using long carving motions. Sprinkle over a pinch of salt & pepper from a height, then pile the beef on top of the horseradish sauce and mustard. Add any resting juices to the gravy and serve in a jug. Toss and dress the salad quickly, then get the Yorkies out of the oven, and take them to the table and tuck in with a glass of wine.


  • Interesting. I’ve been considering working my way through some of Jamie’s 30 minute meals recently as I’m convinced I’m able to warp time when put in the presence of a hot stove. 30 minute meals for any normal person generally stretch out into 1hr 30 minutes for me, which means we frequently eat very late. That said, most recipes don’t take into account prep time, they start the clock after all the chopping etc has been done so I wondered if maybe these *would* take 30 minutes after all.

    Also I have a terrible habit of starting cooking then trying to catch up on prep as I go along, meaning I’m frequently scrabbling in one cupboard whilst desperately not trying to burn something with the timer beeping for something else. It would seem, watching Jamie’s show, I would perhaps cut down time if I “got my 30 minute head on” and got everything out ready before I start cooking; although that’s easier said than done in a tiny kitchen/ette with very limited work space!

    Still, interesting post perhaps I’ll give it or one of the other 30 minute meals a go! Thanks!

    • “Mise en place” as professionals call it, getting everything ready beforehand, is crucial to a methodical and paced bit of cooking. Try it once, not necessarily for a 30 min meal but another dish – do all the prep first, then start cooking. pretend you’re on a cooking show, where everything is measured and weighed out beforehand. You’ll find everything much smoother.

      Note there’s no proper chopping in this, as you’re supposed to use the food processor (this is true for a lot of his 30 mins meals). If it helps, my kitchen is perhaps 2m x 3m – hardly big at all.

  • Well done Gary, it looks lovely.

    I’m really enjoyng this series – I’m very much a Jamie fan. Are you going to try anymore recipes and blog them?

    • Thanks Jan. I’ve not been bowled over by all of them but I do appreciate the techniques. I am tempted to try the “Jools Pregnant Pasta” and Rogan Josh recipes, so watch this space!

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  • Briliant post as always! We’ll be trying a version of this with chicken come the new year when the next half of the series is on. The steak sarnie is definitely worth a go.

    What did you think of this version of roast spuds though?

    • I didn’t realise there was another half to the series, thanks for the tip off.

      The roast spuds? Well they’re just not roast spuds. They’re tasty enough but you need to give them a different name as they don’t live up to the billing.

      Thanks for stopping by Phil.

  • Thanks for the recipe, I couldnt find the recipe anywhere else, seems that these recipes are on Jamie’s website for a limited period unless they are the few selective recipes.

    I made the dish today and totally loved it. I took some pictures and combined them in this shot: http://a6.sphotos.ak.fbcdn.net/hphotos-ak-snc6/246993_1851644805700_1078164107_31878182_4332226_n.jpg

    Would you happen to have the “spring lamb” recipe in season 2? I havent seen the espisode yet and would like to try it out, it sounds nice from the espisode’s summary.

    • I notice that Jamie’s site takes them down after a short while. Takes too long to track down all the links for dead ends though. I hope my recap above helped.

      GREAT photos! They look like they belong on the show themself.

      I haven’t cooked the Spring lamb one but the bank holiday weekend coming up seems like the perfect time to try. Watch this space!

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