Pot-roast beef with French onion gravy

Pot-roast beef with French onion gravy

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(46 ratings)

Prep: 15 mins Cook: 2 hrs, 15 mins


Serves 4
Silverside and topside are cheaper and leaner cuts of meat, well-suited to slow-cooking. The stock and juices make a great sauce when combined with caramelised onions

Nutrition and extra info

  • Freezable
  • Healthy

Nutrition: per serving

  • kcal487
  • fat17g
  • saturates5g
  • carbs19g
  • sugars15g
  • fibre5g
  • protein6g
  • salt1g
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  • 1kg silverside or topside of beef, with no added fat (see tip, below)
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
    olive oil

    Olive oil

    ol-iv oyl

    Probably the most widely-used oil in cooking, olive oil is pressed from fresh olives. It's…

  • 8 young carrot, tops trimmed (but leave a little, if you like)



    The carrot, with its distinctive bright orange colour, is one of the most versatile root…

  • 1 celery stick, finely chopped



    A collection of long, thick, juicy stalks around a central, tender heart, celery ranges in…

  • 200ml white wine
  • 600ml rich beef stock
  • 2 bay leaf
  • 500g onion



    Onions are endlessly versatile and an essential ingredient in countless recipes. Native to Asia…

  • a few thyme sprigs


    This popular herb grows in Europe, especially the Mediterranean, and is a member of the mint…

  • 1 tsp butter



    Butter is made when lactic-acid producing bacteria are added to cream and churned to make an…

  • 1 tsp light brown or light muscovado sugar
  • 2 tsp plain flour


  1. Heat oven to 160C/140C fan/gas 3. Rub the meat with 1 tsp of the oil and plenty of seasoning. Heat a large flameproof casserole dish and brown the meat all over for about 10 mins. Meanwhile, add 2 tsp oil to a frying pan and fry the carrots and celery for 10 mins until turning golden.

  2. Lift the beef onto a plate, splash the wine into the hot casserole and boil for 2 mins. Pour in the stock, return the beef, then tuck in the carrots, celery and bay leaves, trying not to submerge the carrots too much. Cover and cook in the oven for 2 hrs. (I like to turn the beef halfway through cooking.)

  3. Meanwhile, thinly slice the onions. Heat 1 tbsp oil in a pan and stir in the onions, thyme and some seasoning. Cover and cook gently for 20 mins until the onions are softened but not coloured. Remove the lid, turn up the heat, add the butter and sugar, then let the onions caramelise to a dark golden brown, stirring often. Remove the thyme sprigs, then set aside.

  4. When the beef is ready, it will be tender and easy to pull apart at the edges. Remove it from the casserole and snip off the strings. Reheat the onion pan, stir in the flour and cook for 1 min. Whisk the floury onions into the beefy juices in the casserole, to make a thick onion gravy. Taste for seasoning. Add the beef and carrots back to the casserole, or slice the beef and bring to the table on a platter, with the carrots to the side and the gravy spooned over.

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Comments (52)

rooneyuk's picture

A late review but am reminded to comment as bought a new piece of topside today to do this again!
I made this on 1st Jan with a piece of topside I'd got to feed 10 of us. The meat was from a supermarket and I wasn't sure of the quality and couldn't risk disappointment. It was 7lb and I cooked it for 7 hours. Once a skewer went through with no resistance I took it out, wrapped it in foil and put it to one side. I didn't follow the recipe for the gravy but used the stock. The joint carved well, the gravy was fabulous and the whole family were very happy.

MrsWiddowson's picture

Very nice. Went down a storm with the whole family and the beef was beautifully tender. Even my fussy boy who doesn't like chewy meat had a clean plate (although he did pick the onions out!)!

MrsK121's picture

Cooked this for New Year. Followed the instructions but the beef was inedible and tough as old boots. Gravy however was delicious. Won't be making it again

C79's picture

I have cooked this twice and love it. Instead of using 200mls White wine, I used about 50 mls plus some cheap whiskey we had. Turned out lovely!
Also I used red onion instead of celery and it was fine. Def leave the meat to sit for at least 30 mins.

sueyB's picture

This was delicious. I removed the carrots half way through so they were not mushy. I also added a little more stock as had round joint. Will make again as perfect for Sunday roast and can be left to do its thing.

cheeselet's picture

Loved this recipe, had it for Christmas Lunch last year and had it again for a Sunday lunch with friends, meat was melt in the mouth and the gravy was delicious.

lizleicester's picture

5 star gravy and 3 star beef. I would do this in an actual slow cooker next time to keep the beef more succulent.

allielovetocook's picture

This is the only way I cook beef now - I use a supermarket-bought Topside/Toprump joint and just alter the timing dependant on size. I just put a chopped onion in with the carrots and stock and the resulting sauce is amazing, though it definitely needs more flour than the recipe states to make a gravy. It reheats well too and is especially good made a day ahead, sliced when cold and reheated in the onion gravy. Very easy. Utterly delicious, and a real favourite with everyone I've cooked it for.

patricia211151's picture

I would be interested to know if anyone has tried cooking this in a slow cooker???

daughter's picture

Delicious....cooked this evening...added some red wine as well as white wine to make up quantity required...forgot to add flour so added some gravy granules to thicken up a little.....served with mashed potatoes.."loved it so tasty

Susan Stickley's picture

The recipe looks good but this website is a complete mess of pottage. Come on BBC, you can do better than this. How, for instance, can one change an email address? How and where do you sign in? This is after about half an hour of searching. It really should not be this difficult.

helers's picture

Lucynzsky, I make this often and I think you need to get your oven temperature checked. I cook it at 150c and usually for about 3 hours turning the meat at least twice. I add garlic to the onions and put the thyme into the stock at the start rather than the onion mixture as I think it gives much better flavour to the gravy. I also increase the wine (red better colour) and stock I don't bother with the carrot or the celery as I don't think it makes much difference and prefer to cook my carrots al dente which I serve with the meat. Yorkshire pudding, mashed potatoes (all that lovely gravy), the carrots, sprouts and green beans and it is one of my favourites.

tracieah's picture

This is a regular Sunday meal in our house. Just put it in the oven and forget about it for a few hours. Everyone loves it very tasty and easy to make

tracieah's picture

Have made this several times and always works. Very tasty and takes care of it's self once it's in the oven. Always a hit with the family

Lucynzsky's picture

Omg, I just made this for my boyfriend and it was embarrassing! The driest meat ever, like old boots! Two hours, seriously? I followed the directions to the T. I don't understand how people had this be remotely moist after two hours! Half that maybe.

leamac83's picture

Made this last night and it was a disaster, the meat was so incredibly dry. This was the second time i made it, first time was perfect but last night was really bad, i couldn't even eat the meat. Really not sure what went wrong, perhaps the cut of meat. So disappointed!

helers's picture

I got a piece of Silverside (789gm) on offer and looked for a recipe here Although my meat was less than the recipe I used the same amount of wine and stock. Having read the previous reports and as I am not a fan of celery I substituted this for fennel and also added garlic to the onion mix. I added the carrot and fennel 1 hour in as recommended her and it was perfect. As none of my family like thick gravy the quantise provided were just right for us loved it and will make again and again.

KJRann's picture

Made this at the weekend using just under a 1kg piece of silverside and cooked for just over 2.5 hrs. I substituted the bay leaves (as I didn't have any) for 2 small garlic cloves. The gravy was a little on the thin side for me so I added some cornflour to thicken. The gravy was just amazing and my normally fussy-eater husband thought it was the best beef I'd ever cooked - lovely, melt-in-the-mouth tender. A real winning dish and definitely will be making often. Served it with crispy roast potatoes and red cabbage. Yum!

Judrop23's picture

Used a 1.5 kg of silverside. Cooked for over 2 hours but think it could have done with a bit longer. Beef was tasty and tender. Put the carrots in halfway through and they were falling apart so god knows what they would have been like for 2 hours. Didn't bother with the gravy, instead fried some onions with the celery and stuck the beef on top, used red instead of white wine. Made a very sweet tasting gravy not to our liking so would cut back on the onions next time. Overall a easy dish to achieve with a tough cut of meat. Doing again this weekend but with more tweaking.

Duncan Hodgkiss's picture

Cooked for the second time yesterday for Sunday lunch, for seven people. Upscaled the ingredients and meat to suit. Superb results. Meat was beautiful and tender and the flavours were outstanding. The gravy is deliciously rich and a perfect accompaniment to the roast. The instructions are comprehensive and produce wonderful results. I also used the creamy mash recipe of this site. Fantastic. Many thanks.


Questions (4)

susanklein38@gmail.com's picture

Hi. Could you tell me how long this recipe would take in a slow cooker. Thank you

goodfoodteam's picture

We think this should take about 8 hours on the low setting.

johnmcg's picture

can this be done with brisket?

jazzist's picture

Going to make this for Christmas day. Can I do any parts in advance and is this detrimental at all?

Tips (1)

steve0606's picture

Add enough stock to almost cover the beef, and cook fresh vegetables to a complement beef. I blend the pot veg with the stock to make an awesome gravy, good way to get some veg into the non veg eating kids.