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How to Cook Beef Topside Joint

METHOD

Cooking a topside of beef, which is a lean cut from the hindquarter of the cow, requires a bit of care to ensure it comes out tender and juicy, as it lacks the fat marbling of cuts like ribeye or sirloin.

A beef topside joint is a versatile cut that can be prepared in various ways, catering to different cuisines and cooking styles. Here are some methods to cook a topside of beef, each offering a unique flavour and texture to this lean cut:

1. Roasting

  • Traditional Roast: The most popular method for cooking topside. Season the joint and roast in a hot oven initially to sear the outside, then lower the temperature to cook through. This method is ideal for Sunday roasts and special occasions. Serve the beef sliced thinly with gravy and traditional sides.

2. Slow Cooking

  • Braised Topside: Slow cooking or braising in liquid (like a rich stock with herbs and vegetables) transforms the topside into a tender, flavourful dish. This method is excellent for stews and casseroles, where the meat is cooked slowly at a low temperature until it falls apart easily.

3. Pot Roasting

  • Pot Roast: Cooking the topside in a covered pot with a little bit of liquid and a selection of root vegetables. The steam and moisture within the pot keep the beef moist, and the meat infuses with the flavours of the vegetables and herbs.

4. Sous Vide

  • Sous Vide Topside: Cooking the topside at a precise temperature in a water bath, sealed in a vacuum bag, for several hours. This method ensures the beef is cooked evenly through, retaining its moisture and achieving unparalleled tenderness. After sous vide cooking, the joint is usually seared quickly in a hot pan to develop a flavourful crust.

5. Smoking

  • Smoked Topside: Although less common due to the lean nature of the cut, smoking topside beef with low heat over several hours can impart a unique smoky flavour. This method requires careful monitoring to prevent the meat from drying out, often involving wrapping the beef in foil partway through cooking to retain moisture.

6. Slicing and Stir-Frying

  • Stir-Fried Topside: Slicing the topside thinly against the grain and quickly stir-frying it with vegetables and sauces. This method is perfect for Asian-inspired dishes, such as beef stir-fry, where the meat is cooked rapidly over high heat, retaining its tenderness.

7. Pressure Cooking

  • Pressure-Cooked Topside: Using a pressure cooker can significantly reduce the cooking time while ensuring the beef is tender. This method is great for making dishes like beef stew or curry, where the meat is cooked under high pressure, infusing it with the flavours of the added liquids and seasonings.

Each cooking method can be tailored to suit the topside cut, taking into account its lean nature. By choosing the right cooking technique, you can turn a topside of beef into a delicious and memorable meal, whether you're craving a traditional roast, a hearty stew, or a quick stir-fry.


What to Pair with Beef Topside

The choice of pairings can depend on how the beef is prepared, but here are some versatile options that complement the rich flavour of beef topside across various cooking methods:

For Roasted Topside of Beef

  • Yorkshire Pudding: A classic British side that's perfect with roast beef, capturing the meaty juices.
  • Roasted Vegetables: Carrots, parsnips, and potatoes roasted in the oven alongside the beef absorb its flavours and become deliciously tender.
  • Mashed Potatoes: Creamy and buttery, with a hint of garlic or mustard for an extra kick.
  • Horseradish Sauce: The pungency of horseradish sauce cuts through the richness of the beef beautifully.
  • Red Wine Jus or Gravy: A reduction of beef stock, red wine, and roast drippings complements the meat's deep flavours.

For Slow-Cooked or Braised Topside

  • Creamy Polenta: A smooth and creamy polenta makes a comforting base for tender, slow-cooked beef.
  • Steamed Greens: Kale, spinach, or Swiss chard, lightly steamed and dressed with a bit of olive oil and lemon, offer a fresh contrast to the dish.
  • Root Vegetable Mash: A mash made from swede (rutabaga), turnips, or sweet potatoes offers sweetness and depth.
  • Rustic Bread: Perfect for mopping up the rich sauce that accompanies a braised beef dish.

For Sous Vide Topside

  • Sautéed Mushrooms: Earthy mushrooms sautéed in butter and garlic pair well with the precise tenderness of sous vide beef.
  • Grilled Asparagus: With a bit of char, grilled asparagus adds a smoky, crispy edge to the meal.
  • Cauliflower Puree: A lighter, elegant alternative to mashed potatoes, with a creamy texture and subtle flavour.

For Smoked Topside

  • Coleslaw: A tangy, crunchy coleslaw balances the smoky flavours of the beef.
  • Corn on the Cob: Smothered in butter and sprinkled with a little salt, grilled or boiled corn on the cob is a sweet and simple side.
  • Baked Beans: A classic with smoked meats, offering a sweet and savoury flavour profile.

For Stir-Fried Topside

  • Steamed Rice: A staple that serves as a neutral base for the bold flavours of a stir-fry.
  • Noodles: Whether it's udon, rice noodles, or egg noodles, they're great for soaking up the sauce.
  • Stir-Fried Vegetables: A mix of bell peppers, broccoli, and snap peas adds colour and crunch.

For Pressure-Cooked Topside

  • Couscous or Quinoa: These grains make for a lighter side and are excellent at absorbing the flavours of the dish.
  • Roasted Sweet Potatoes: Their natural sweetness contrasts nicely with the savouriness of the beef.

Universal Pairings

  • Green Salad: A simple green salad, dressed with vinaigrette, can cleanse the palate and add a fresh element to the meal.
  • A Bold Red Wine: A glass of full-bodied red wine, such as Cabernet Sauvignon, Malbec, or Shiraz, pairs splendidly with the richness of beef topside.

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Pairings

Pairing drinks with beef topside can enhance the dining experience, complementing the rich flavours of the meat. Here's a guide to selecting beverages that harmonise beautifully with beef, whether it's roasted, braised, or prepared using other cooking methods:

Red Wine

  • Cabernet Sauvignon: Its full body and robust tannins stand up well to the richness of beef, especially when roasted or grilled.
  • Merlot: With its smoother tannins and fruity notes, Merlot is a versatile pairing that complements a wide range of beef dishes.
  • Syrah/Shiraz: Offering spicy and bold flavours, Syrah or Shiraz pairs well with smoked or heavily seasoned beef.
  • Malbec: Known for its dark fruit flavours and smoky finish, Malbec is excellent with barbecued or grilled beef.

White Wine

While red wines are the traditional choice with beef, certain white wines can also pair nicely, especially with preparations that include creamy or mushroom-based sauces.

  • Chardonnay: A full-bodied Chardonnay, especially one that's oaked, can complement beef dishes with rich, creamy sauces.

Beer

Beer's variety and versatility make it a great companion to beef, matching well with everything from roasts to barbecued preparations.

  • Stout and Porter: With their roasted malt flavours, these dark beers pair exceptionally well with smoked beef and hearty stews.
  • Pale Ale: The hoppy character of pale ales can cut through the richness of the beef, refreshing the palate.
  • Lager: A crisp lager can lighten a heavy beef dish, making it a good choice for casual dining or summer barbecues.

Non-Alcoholic Options

For those who prefer non-alcoholic beverages or are looking for a refreshing counterpoint to a rich meal, there are several suitable choices.

  • Sparkling Water: A simple palate cleanser that can refresh between bites of rich beef.
  • Iced Tea: The tannins in tea can mimic those in red wine, offering a similar complement to beef without the alcohol. Opt for unsweetened or lightly sweetened to avoid overpowering the meal.
  • Fruit Juices: Dark, tart cherry juice or pomegranate juice can offer a similar profile to red wine, providing a fruity contrast to the savouriness of the beef.

Spirits

For a more indulgent experience, some spirits can complement beef, especially when enjoyed as an aperitif or digestif.

  • Whisky: The complex flavours of whisky, especially those with smoky or peaty notes, can enhance the depth of roasted or grilled beef dishes.
  • Bourbon: Its sweetness and vanilla notes can pair well with barbecue sauces or caramelised onions accompanying the beef.

When choosing a drink to pair with beef topside, consider the cooking method and the seasoning of the dish. A good pairing should balance the flavours of the beef without overpowering them.