Comfort food is possibly an expression that is overused. Lots of people use it to describe treats like crisps and chocolate. To me, comfort food is a big bowl or plate of something warm and unctuous. Something to make you feel like you’re getting a cuddle from big arms. When I was a child my version of comfort food would have been what my mother gave me when I was sick. I treated myself to that the other night as I wasn’t feeling great and my stomach wasn’t able for much. I was lucky being the youngest in my family as my mother had the time to wait on me when I was sick! I wasn’t terribly lucky, if something was to be caught I’d catch it, I’m still like that. I once cut a big chunk out of my knee, I remember the skin hanging off! I cut that same part of my knee another three times – I have a beautiful round scar as proof. Every time it healed, I fell or tripped over and opened the wound again. Anyway, when I was sick I got to stay in bed and got fed there too. From the kitchen, I could hear Gay Byrne’s radio show and the pot going on the gas ring. My mother would then produce a bowl of Rice Krispies laced with lashings of sugar and boiling hot milk. That was the first course – it would be followed by sweet tea and buttery buttery toast. I was spoilt and being sick was made more bearable by that special treatment.
Now the winter evenings are well and truly with us, it means modern, grown up comfort food. There is one dinner that we go back to time and time again: roast beef. It is probably one of the simplest, tastiest dinners for minimum effort. This isn’t a precise recipe. The piece of beef is for four as we used the leftovers for lunch next day. So use your choice of beef cut and cook for up to an hour or beyond depending on whether you like it rare, medium or ruined.
I cut up some veg and used them as a trivet in the roasting pan. I season these with salt and pepper and pour over a little olive oil.
Place your beef on a chopping board, oil very well and then season with loads of freshly ground black pepper and sea salt. This helps give the beef a nice crunchy exterior once it is cooked.
This trivet of vegetables is very important, as it serves as the base for your gravy. Once the beef is resting, you make this quick gravy. Deglaze the pan with either some red wine or water and scrape all the residue into a pot with the roasted veg. Add beef or chicken stock, your own if possible, if not there’s nothing wrong with a cube or one of those little pots, just don’t add any more salt. Let the gravy bubble away and thicken. If it is not thickening, you can add a teaspoon of cornflour mixed with tablespoon water, and bring back to the boil. Cornflour cooks out a lot quicker than a normal roux mix.
I served this roast with my version of a potato fondant Recipe Linkbut you could also just serve with roasted potatoes and with extra veg of your own choice.