beef topside with porcini mushrooms and proscuitto

I’ve cooked up a few disasters over the past couple of weeks. Pumpkin ‘custard’ made with coconut milk that ended up looking like grey scrambled eggs and tasting like...eeer...the unmentinable? The same pumpkin, this time mashed to go with some fat, mustardy sausages, leaking watery juice all over the plate? Roast chestnuts that ended up so hard, I could practically see my dentist rubbing his hands with glee...not good.

So, instead of writing about any of THAT, I thought I’d post a recipe f a dish we ate at least a month ago, and that was so bloody nice it might be time to make it again.

We’ve had a piece of beef topside in the freezer for months. I think we’ve both avoided taking it out because our previous attempt at cooking beef - a silverside, as it happens - was a disaster. I read somewhere that the best way to cook a joint like that is to braise it slowly so it goes meltingly tender. I’m afraid it just ended up grey and tough as old boots.

We weren’t’ going to make the same mistake this time. A decision was made to treat it as you would a piece of fillet, and roast it quickly until it’s about rare to medium rare. But as it’s a pretty fatless piece of meat, I knew it needed a little help with the flavour and juiciness. Enter porcini and ham. You can’t really go wrong with those ingredients, right?

It was gorgeous - meaty, salty and sweet, full of umami and nice things you only get from eating something that’s oozing blood all over your plate.

i think this is a jamie oliver recipe but wouldn't swear on it.

for four (i made risolles with leftovers - tasted okay but can't remember how i made them!)

1kg beef topside
10-12 slices of prosciutto
3 cloves of garlic, peeled
1 handful of dried porcini, soaked in 300ml water
3 knobs of butter
lemon juice
salt and pepper
some thyme and some rosemary, chopped finely (a sprig of each if about enough)
150ml red wine

preheat your oven to 230C and put a roasting tin in it to warm up.

drain your porcini mushrooms, reserving the water. make sure you sieve them as the mushrooms are usually a bit gritty. heat a knob of butter in a frying pan and fry one of the cloves of garlic (chopped) with the porcini for a minute or so. then add half of the mushroom soaking liquid and leave to simmer until it's reduced quite a bit. add a squeeze of lemon and stir in the other two knobs of butter. season.

lay the pieces of prosciutto on a large piece of greaseproof paper or clingfilm, overlapping slightly lengthwise. it's the way they usually come anyway if you buy them in a deli - the supermarket ones have the annoying bits of plastic in-between which makes this quite a painful job.

spread the mushroom mixture over one half of the laid out ham.

season your beef and roll it in the herbs laid out on a plate or a chopping board - they should stick. if some fall off, it doesn't matter much. now place the beef on the ham and roll it so it's wrapped in it. make the paper/clingfilm help you do it - though it's still a delicate operation. tie some string around the beef to keep the ham and mushrooms in place - about 3 pieces spread out evenly will do.

now put a drop of oil in a tin and place the beef in it with a couple of cloves of garlic. cook for about 30 minutes for rare or 35-40 for medium rare, adding the wine to the tin halfway through. don't even think about well done - you may as well be making something else for dinner.

while the beef is resting, reduce the red wine gravy if it needs it. you can add the beef juices to it once it's rested.


  1. That is one gorgeous hunk of meat!

  2. Man I want to eat this RIGHT NOW! Jamie Oliver does a version of this. And I ate a Pork version (pig stuffed with pig wrapped in pig) at his restaurant in Brighton this weekend. But just looking at this makes me reflect on the things I miss out living with a vegetarian - please cook this the next time we come over and give him one of the bakes from October!


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