Wednesday, 2 October 2013

Cornish Under Roast

Is there a definite recipe for this? What cut of beef do you use? I have seen a lot of recipes that use Chuck steak - I do not believe that would have been used in times gone by. It takes a lot of slow cooking to begin to tenderise it and it has sinews running through. Yes, a slab of steak would be good, but would our ancestors have been able to afford that? But they could afford skirt and used that in their pasties and stews. I reckon they would have used a large slab of skirt for under roast too. A lean cut, with no fat and falls apart with little cooking. I have have been working on developing a updated version of this very old recipe, using more acceptable ingredients - and no dripping!

For each person, take a portion size slab of skirt [or steak]. I gave it a little bash to tenderise, just to make sure! Season it well with sea salt and pepper and drop it into a large hot pan, with a little olive oil. Fry off both sides, to colour and start the cooking process. About 7 or 8 mins each side. Set aside while you....

Prepare the "terrific trio" of carrots, onion and celery, in whatever proportions you like, cubed and diced fairly small. I use less celery and cut it really finely, so haters of it cannot see it! But do use it as it makes such a wonderful flavour. Fry the trio in the pan you cooked the skirt. After 5 mins,  take a oven proof dish that is big enough to hold the skirt slabs in one layer and place the vegetables in the bottom, placing the skirt over them.

Peel some potatoes and slice to a medium thickness - I have a nifty Oxo Grips Mandolin. It is so handy. Put a little more oil in your hot pan and fry the potato slices in a single layer for a minute or so each side, then arranging them on top of your meat. You will have to do this in batches. Season with a little salt and freshly ground pepper. Then pour in a little good quality beef stock, so that you just cover the meat, but not over the potatoes. Place in a preheated oven at around 180 C. I cover with foil for the first half hour then remove and let it all brown for a further 45 mins or so. Turn the oven down if they are browning too much. Serve with a green vegetable.
Our ancestors would not have used the veg base. Maybe a little onion. The meat and potatoes would have been fried in dripping. But otherwise - it is near as I can get!


  1. I use pork belly. Really tasty too.

  2. My late Cornish Mother would cut up her piece of skirt into small chunks. A large onion was chopped and fried in oil and put in the bottom of a large casserole dish. She then would brown the chopped skirt in the onion oil. When the meat had browned a tablespoon of flour was stirred in to absorb the oil and meat juices, this then went
    over the onion. She then added diced carrots and parsnips and covered the lot with thick gravy and seasoning. On top of this went the sliced potatoes in layers and finally on the top more seasoning with several small pieces of butter to crisp up the potato slices and then cooked for about one and a half to one and three quarters of an hour gas mark 6 in the top part of the oven. I like to put herbs and garlic in mine as well. When cooked and nicely browned on top serve with peas, sprouts or cabbage and spare hot gravy if required.Very tasty. Being watchful of using the gas cooker she would usually make two at once or make another as a stew which we would heat up in the week with dumplings.

    recipe from Cornish Mother.

  4. My mother did this with the meat cut up in moderate size pieces.
    She did not slice the potatoes but halved them, I think put butter or marg on top so they were browned and crisp. I have never seen this done outside my family. My mother was not Cornish, but my paternal grandmother was so perhaps the recipe came from her.

  5. This was a staple of my childhood and I'm cooking it tonight My grandmother and mother cooked under-roast the day after making pasties, using all the left-over ingredients. The meat was cut up and stewed on top of the cooker in a tin pie dish with onion, swede, potato chunks, stock, salt and pepper for about 20 mins. Pastry was then shaped into a roll and positioned around the sides of the tin. It was then roasted in the oven for about an hour. Totally delicious!