Pot-roast beef with French onion gravy

Pot-roast beef with French onion gravy

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(50 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 carrots, 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 leaves
  • 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, questions and tips

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12th Feb, 2017
This was amazing! Really easy but the nicest beef I have cooked for ages. Perfectly tender, lovely gravy. Served with Yorkshires and veg.
14th Jan, 2017
Followed to the letter but the beef was so tough it was almost inedible. The rest of this was nice but I'd never make it again. Maybe we're just not used to this kind of cooking but I'd say stick to roast rib of beef and have it rare!
17th Jan, 2016
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.
13th Jan, 2016
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!)!
3rd Jan, 2016
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
23rd Oct, 2015
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.
4th Oct, 2015
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.
16th Sep, 2015
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.
16th Sep, 2015
5 star gravy and 3 star beef. I would do this in an actual slow cooker next time to keep the beef more succulent.
18th Aug, 2015
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.


15th Dec, 2015
Hi. Could you tell me how long this recipe would take in a slow cooker. Thank you
goodfoodteam's picture
18th Dec, 2015
We think this should take about 8 hours on the low setting.
18th Feb, 2015
can this be done with brisket?
18th Dec, 2013
Going to make this for Christmas day. Can I do any parts in advance and is this detrimental at all? Thanks.
27th Mar, 2016
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.