Pot-roast beef with French onion gravy

Pot-roast beef with French onion gravy

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(110 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 a dairy product made from separating whole milk or cream into fat and…

  • 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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17th May, 2020
This recipe is having a laugh! Two hours at gas 3 for a 1 kg piece of brisket?! Yes, if you want to spend the rest of the day masticating for England! Add at least an hour to that cooking time, more if necessary and keep checking. Nowhere near enough oil for the frying of things unless you want everything burnt and way too much liquid and not enough flour for the onion gravy. You can cook this onion gravy all you like and it'll never thicken. You'll end up having to add cornflour or thickening granules. It turned out fine in the end, thanks to my general knowledge and experience as a home cook and no thanks whatever to this cruddy recipe!
17th May, 2020
I just cooked this with a 1.6kg joint and followed the recipe instructions throughout. I was not disappointed, the meat was well cooked and tender. The veg were also melt in your mouth! Would recommend!
S L S's picture
18th Apr, 2020
Made this tonight sans the white wine and with a 1.7 kg topside. Adjusted cooking time to 2 hrs 40 minutes and turned once during. Included parsnips with my carrots and celery. Veg turned out great but the meat was well, well done! I think my oven was more like 150C fan, I wish I would have checked it earlier! It wasn’t ridiculously tough, but leftovers will be relegated to a slow cooked beef soup of some sort. I was bummed about the gravy- the onion mix smelled brilliant but the gravy was far from thick! Not sure where I went wrong. Not a total disaster, but will keep a much closer eye on it next time!
17th May, 2020
I was a similar situation to you but I just stuck with the 2 hrs and it turned out really well and tender. :) Hopefully it works out better for you next time!
Foodforwellbeing's picture
24th Feb, 2020
Absolute perfection! This is the best recipe for a slow cooked beef joint. I had a 1.6kg joint so adjusted accordingly. Even the carrots were melt in the mouth. 3 hours cooking. The gravy was out of this world! Definitely one to save
23rd Feb, 2020
Rubbish recipe, Beef turned out like shoe leather, maybe needed an hour at the most.
21st Aug, 2019
An absolute winner - I've done this recipe a few times for Sunday lunch. I did it again at the weekend, using a 1.5kg piece of basted roasting beef from Tesco, which cost just £8. I cooked it for 3 hours instead of 2, turning half way and the results were amazing. It was the ultimate 'melt in the mouth' experience and the onion gravy was fantastic. This is one of my top recipes from this site, and I've made many, it's my first choice for a recipe search.
Chris Clay's picture
Chris Clay
7th Apr, 2019
Made as per instructions. Succulent and delicious. Well worth making the onion gravy.
20th Jan, 2019
Having looked at the reviews I was worried our meat would be tough and dry....I should not have worried. I followed the recipe to the tee with the exception of omitting the celery. The beef - a 900g silverside - from a UK butcher - we followed the first part of the recipe to section 2 (browned beef, then carrots, then wine/stock). We then let it go cold in a cast iron stock pot and waited until we needed to cook. We cooked the pot from cold for 2.5 hours at 140c fan and the meet was tender, succulent and juicy. The gravy was beautiful. If your meat is tough then it is either a bad butcher/supermarket or you overcooked it too high.
13th Nov, 2018
This was nice, but personally I prefer to just do a normal roast which is faster and gives you nice medium rare beef. When you carve the meat here it looks really overcooked and grey, you have to cover it in gravy to give it visual appeal, in reality it is nice and soft from the slow oven cooking though. I also didn't think it was worth making the French onion gravy. Overall it was nice but I probably wouldn't make it again.


Alexandra Goicoechea's picture
Alexandra Goicoechea
7th Feb, 2020
What temperature should the meat be when done, for the meat to be medium, meaning it is not overcooked but not red.
goodfoodteam's picture
10th Feb, 2020
Hello! thanks for your question! The method of pot roasting won't leave you with the same results as a roasted joint, therefore you won't have a pink medium coloured centre. It will have a tender texture as it is slow cooked. If you'd like more of a pink, medium cooked joint try this recipe - https://www.bbcgoodfood.com/recipes/roast-beef-red-wine-banana-shallots
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.
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