Best of British Pot-Roast Beef

Here’s a toothsome addition to your slow cooker repertoire. Americans may not be familiar with topside beef roast, which is what this recipe calls for. This cut comes from the inner muscle of the cow thigh, and is both tender and lean. Ask your butcher to help out; ours was impressed we specifically asked for the cut. If your butcher is not so accommodating, any hind quarter cut such as point of rump will do fine. You can use Dijon mustard as a substitute if you don’t have the English mustard which packs some heat. Cabernet Sauvignon, merlot, and Chianti would work well for the red wine.

This recipe comes from the book The Essential Slow Cooker Cookbook by Lorna Brash, page 129. Our edition was from 2013. We served the melt-in-your-mouth beef over mashed potatoes. We hope you enjoy this dish, too!


3 lb. beef topside

2 garlic cloves, crushed

3 Tbsp vegetable oil

2 carrots, cut into chunks

2 onions, roughly chopped

4 celery sticks (strings removed), thickly sliced on the diagonal

2 Tbsp all-purpose flour

2 1/2 cups hot beef stock

1 1/4 cups red wine

1 heaping tsp English mustard

1 tsp dried oregano


Rub the beef all over with the garlic. Heat the oil in a large frying pan over a medium high heat and fry the meat until well browned on all sides. Transfer beef to the slow cooker pot.

Add the carrots, onions and celery to the frying pan and fry for 5 minutes, until they begin to soften.

Sprinkle over the flour and pour over the stock and wine. Stir in the mustard and oregano and bring to the boil, scraping up any crispy bits from the bottom of the pan. Pour the mixture over the meat. Cover with the lid and cook on high for 7 hours (turning the beef halfway through cooking if you like) or until the beef is tender and cooked through.

Carefully lift the beef out of the slow cooker, place on a warm plate, and cover with foil.

Use a stick blender to purée the sauce. Turn the slow cooker off and strain the gravy through a sieve. Season with salt and pepper and serve spooned over the sliced beef. Serve with creamy mashed potatoes.

Prep Time: 25 minutes

Cook: 7 hours

Serves 4

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Beer-Braised Chicken with Parsnips and Carrots

Happy New Year! We had extra root vegetables and no interest in heading out into the subzero temperatures to go to the grocery store. This recipe from Christopher Kimball’s Milk Street magazine (January/February 2018) got our attention. We had all the ingredients on hand! If you don’t have Belgian wheat ale, we suggest you wait until you can go to the liquor store for the ale, because the results were fabulous. If you substitute another type of ale (beer), we can’t guarantee the results!

We served this dish over our leftover farfalle (bow-tie pasta), but mashed potatoes, quinoa, farro, and other pasta would be great complements as well.


3 lbs. bone-in, skin=on chicken thighs

1 Tbsp vegetable oil

8 peeled and halved small shallots

2 cups peeled carrot chunks (1-inch pieces)

2 cups peeled parsnip chunks (1-inch pieces)

5 smashed, peeled garlic cloves

1 Tbsp toasted ground coriander

12-oz. Belgian wheat ale

2 Tbsp Dijon mustard

2 Tbsp cider vinegar

1/4 cup fresh dill, chopped


Deacon the chicken with salt and white pepper. In a large Dutch oven over medium-high, heat oil, then brown the chicken 4-5 minutes per side. Transfer to a plate, skin side up. In the same pot over medium heat, combine shallots, carrots, parsnips, and garlic. Cook for 3-4 minutes. Add ground coriander and ale. Scrape the pan, then stir in Dijon mustard and 1/2 teaspoon salt. Bring to a simmer, then add the chicken, skin side up. Bake at 350º F, uncovered, until the vegetables are tender and the chicken reaches 175º F, about 40 minutes.

Transfer the chicken skin side up to a platter. Reduce the braising liquid over medium heat, stirring about 5 minutes. Season with salt and pepper. Stir in cider vinegar and chopped dill. Pour the sauce and vegetables around the chicken. Sprinkle with more dill.

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Mulled Wine with Clementines

This has been a cold winter. Warm drinks, especially when there as good as this one, help us get through the coldest nights. We found this recipe in the winter 2017 issue of a trade magazine from Surdyk’s, a local wine and cheese shop. The recipe was reprinted from Hot Drinks, published by the British firm Ryland, Peters, and Small.

We tried the recipe as written, but we have already made our own modifications. We cut the sugar in half, and we omitted the vanilla bean. Please try it!


6 cups red wine

1/3 cup brandy

Zest and freshly squeezed juice of 2 clementines

Zest of 1 lime

Zest of 1 lemon

1 cup caster/superfine sugar

1 cinnamon stick

4 cloves

4 pinches of grated nutmeg

1 vanilla pod/bean, split

Lemon zest and cinnamon sticks, for garnish


Add all the ingredients to a large saucepan set over a medium heat. Simmer gently for about 30 minutes, stirring occasionally. Serve in heatproof glasses garnished with extra lemon zest and cinnamon sticks.

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Royal Riviera Pear Salad

We received some scrumptious pears from Harry & David as a Christmas present from some special relatives. It was tempting to just dive in and eat the pears as snacks, but we had enough resolve to save two of those mammoth pears to make this salad recipe that came along with the gift. It was definitely worth the wait!

We substituted Gorgonzola for the blue cheese, and we choose toasted walnuts over candied nuts.

Dressing Ingredients

1/4 cup champagne vinegar

1 Tbsp Dijon mustard

1 Tbsp honey

1/2 tsp sea salt

1 tsp freshly ground black pepper

3/4 cup walnut oil

Salad Ingredients

1 head butter or other lettuce, washed and dried

2 large pears, peeled, cored and sliced

2/3 cup blue cheese

2/3 cup candied nuts or toasted walnuts


To create dressing, whisk together the first five ingredients. Gradually whisk in the walnut oil. Gently tear lettuce into bite-sized pieces. Arrange on four chilled plates. Place fans of pear slices on lettuce. Crumble blue cheese evenly on top. Drizzle dressing generously over the salad. Sprinkle with nuts and serve at once.

Serves 4.

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Manhattan Strip Roast

This is one of our Christmas Day favorites. Our grocery store has this special cut only during the holidays, so we try not to miss a chance to make this whenever it’s available.


Preheat oven to 475 degrees F. Place roast fat side up (with netting intact) in a heavy stainless steel or other thick metal pan at least 2 inches deep. Cook uncovered for exactly 20 minutes. Reduce oven temperature to 275 degrees F and roast for another 20 minutes for medium rare or 60 minutes for medium well. (Ovens vary). Carefully remove roast from pan and baste with pan juices. Cover with foil and allow to rest at room temperature for exactly 10 minutes to maintain natural juices and flavors. Carefully remove netting with sharp knife or scissors and then slice roast and drizzle each piece with pan juices.

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Spicy Grilled Salsa

Here is the salsa we served with the previous recipe, Herbed Meat Kebabs. This dish is also from Einat Admony’s book, Balaboosta. We recommend actually putting the salsa with the kebab meat in a pita pocket, but you can serve it on the side if you prefer. The garlic can be roasted at the same time the other vegetables are grilled. Instead of two large tomatoes, we used 5 smaller tomatoes (quicker to grill). We also recommend doubling the jalapeño peppers for a little more kick!


1 large red bell pepper

1 large green bell pepper

1 large red onion, halved

1 jalapeño chile

2 large tomatoes

3 cloves roasted garlic, finely chopped

2 Tbsp finely chopped fresh parsley

1 Tbsp olive oil

1 Tbsp fresh lemon juice

1 1/2 tsp kosher salt

Pinch of freshly ground black pepper


Roast the bell peppers, onion, jalapeño, and tomatoes on the grill or under the broiler. In either case, get a deep brown, almost black, char on all sides of the vegetables, about 20 minutes. Remove from the heat and allow them to cool completely.
Peel away all the charred skin from the bell peppers, jalapeño, and tomatoes. Remove the stem, core, and seeds from the bell peppers and jalapeño, then core the tomatoes. Chop everything up coarsely for a chunky salsa.
Transfer to a serving dish and stir in the roasted garlic, parsley, olive oil, lemon juice, salt, and pepper.

Makes about 2 1/2 cups.

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Herbed Meat Kebabs

Here is a fun alternative to burgers on the grill. As an added bonus we cleared out some of the mint that was crowding out some of the other garden herbs. This recipe comes from Einat Admony in her book, Balaboosta (page 138). The pairing of mint and cilantro may sound odd, but trust us, you’ll like it.
One tip: don’t try moving the kebabs for 5-6 minutes with grill on high heat. Once the kebabs are cooked on one side, they are easier to handle without falling apart. We served this in pita pockets with the next recipe, Spicy Grilled Salsa.


2 lbs. ground beef

1 medium yellow onion, finely chopped

1/3 cup finely chopped parsley

1/3 cup finely chopped cilantro

1 Tbsp + 1 tsp olive oil

1 Tbsp + 1 tsp water

3 Tbsp finely chopped fresh mint

2 tsp kosher salt

1 tsp ground cumin

1 tsp sweet paprika

1/2 tsp ground cinnamon

1/2 tsp freshly ground pepper


Put all the ingredients into a large bowl and mix well with your hands. Shape the ground beef mixture into cylinders about 3 inches long and 1/2 inch in diameter, put them on skewers, and keep refrigerated until ready to use.

When the grill is fired up, place the meat kebabs over the heat and grill them until well charred on each side, 4-6 minutes.

Serve these kebabs hot off the grill with a side of Spicy Grilled Salsa and Red Onion Parsley Salad.



Serves 6-8.

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