Pot-roast beef with French onion gravy

Pot-roast beef with French onion gravy

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(77 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
  • 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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14th Oct, 2018
This recipe had such mixed reviews I had ingredients for a back up dinner to hand, but did this in the slow cooker to use up a cheap cut of silverside and came out beautifully. The meat was soft and falling apart. I dusted it in flour and browned the 1kg piece first and cooked with only 1/2 finely chopped onion and 1 stick of celery as many had said the carrots were overdone, so just roasted them separately with baby potatoes at the end. Added red wine (about 150ml), grated garlic and fresh thyme sprigs and as slow cooker needs less liquid used 2x Knorr rich beef little jelly stock pots and 100ml water instead of the beef stock volume in the recipe. Cooked 5hrs low and 5 on high turning a few times. Made the gravy to recipe with the pot juices and it was amazingly rich and tasty.
Luke Glen's picture
Luke Glen
20th Jan, 2018
Shocking waste of money £ time. Followed timings. Beef was still tough as leather. Ended up cooking for another hour. Still too tough to est. Shame.
20th Nov, 2017
This was delicious! I cooked it in the slow cooker for 8 hours as I don't seem to have much luck making beef that falls apart in the oven. The carrots and gravy were so tasty and loved by all. I will definitely be making this again.
12th Nov, 2017
Delicious, will definitely be making again :)
29th Oct, 2017
Really tasty. 2lb topside meat and cooked it for two hours; was a bit dry but the gravy was divine and more than compensated. Carrots were just right, not too mushy at all. Clean plates from all!
8th Oct, 2017
Could go into "Foodie" raptures about this but being a Yorkshireman, all I'll say is "It t'were proper grand" 2hrs 20 mins for 1.1kgs of silverside and 30 mins of resting. Just couldn't have been nicer. Outstanding :-)
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!)!


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.
spindoctor's picture
22nd Mar, 2018
Having read the comments below I decided I should offer some advice. People complain that the meat is tough when cooked, this will nearly always happen if you cook the beef at too high a temperature and the liquid in the casserole boils. Beef, when boiled, will become tough. It is also very important to have a tight fitting casserole lid so that the steam in the casserole dosnt escape. ALWAYS let cooked beef joints rest for at least 20 mins so the elastin in the meat can relax. It is no coincidence that Yorkshire puddings take 20 minutes to cook!! You cook them while the beef is resting - enjoy
Jonathan Wainwright's picture
Jonathan Wainwright
26th Dec, 2017
Tried this today after wondering whether to roast or slow cook. Glad I slow cooked as detailed in the recipe. Cooked it in the oven for three hours (2kg) joint of topside. 150 degrees. Then took out of oven and left lid on to keep beef moist in the lush gravy, while I cooked the roast potatoes and Yorkshire pudding on a much higher heat. Wrapped beef in tinfoil to keep moist while gravy was thickened. Everyone loved it.
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.