Thursday, May 12, 2016

Cookbook Countdown: Beef Roll

More food from The Cooking of the British Isles. This time I made about a three-quarter recipe of a Beef Roll (p50). (That's how ground beef comes pre-packaged, and I admit to being too lazy this week to stand in line at the butcher's counter to ask for a whole pound.) I was curious about this recipe because it sounds so strange.

The ingredients are essentially those for a fairly straightforward meatloaf (two parts ground beef, one part ground uncooked ham, bread crumbs, nutmeg, salt and pepper, and an egg). This mixture is pressed into a pudding mold and covered. (As far as I can see, a pudding mold is rather like a bundt pan, but with a lid. I don't have one, so used a casserole with a lid, and no hole in the middle.) The the mold is steamed/simmered, bain marie-like on top of the stove, for two hours.

After this, you place weight on the cooked meat (that's two little cast iron skillets making about four pounds), let it cool at room temperature, and then refrigerate it.

When thoroughly chilled, the "roll" can be unmolded and served. When I took the dish from the Dutch oven where it steamed, I bobbled the dish a bit (hot steam and not much working space made it difficult) and thought I got some water in under the lid. I poured off a lot of liquid. I have an idea, though, that a lot of what I poured off might have turned into a kind of aspic around the beef. That would have been more attractive, and probably add a nice flavor and texture to the roll, but it's missing unfortunately.

For the first night we ate slices cold with a grainy mustard* and some bread fresh from the bread machine. Since then we've been having beef roll sandwiches for lunch. It would probably make a good dish for a cold buffet.

* This was actually moutarde à l'ancienne avec cognac, something I bought at a recent food fair and very tasty with this meat.

I've asked several British friends about this dish, but no one admits to knowing what a Beef Roll might be. I'm wondering if it's something regional. I haven't been able to find much information about it, only that this method of cooking is old and there are more modern methods of cooking it, which sound exactly like a regular meatloaf. (I did find a reference to a recipe by the author of this book.) The steaming and pressing seems to change the texture, though, so the meat is much firmer and denser than a typical meatloaf, at my house anyway.

Stop by Cookbook Countdown to see what other folks are making from their cookbook of the month. You could even join in if you want!


  1. This is interesting, and great stuff for sandwiches!

  2. And thank you for the shoutout for Cookbook Countdown!

  3. Hi Kaye,
    I have never heard of beef roll before. Interesting dish! I can see how this would fit in a cold buffet.
    Thanks for linking with CC!