Take a laid-back approach to your Sunday lunch or family meal. Nigel Slater's roast beef cooks in minutes.
2 large onions
2 tablespoons of groundnut or vegetable oil
2 sprigs of fresh rosemary
a small pumpkin (or large butternut squash)
2 tablespoons of plain flour
500ml/17fl oz hot vegetable or chicken stock
175ml/6fl oz white wine
salt and black pepper
a few sprigs of fresh parsley, fairly finely chopped
For the beef, crush the peppercorns coarsely. Chop the thyme leaves then add them to the peppercorns. Pour in the olive oil, mix, then massage the marinade mixture into the beef fillet. Set aside for 30 minutes to one hour at room temperature in a roasting tin.
Preheat the oven to 230C/450F/Gas 9. Put a piece of aluminium foil loosely over the top of the roasting tin, barely touching the meat. Roast in the oven for 10 minutes.
Lower the heat to 210C/425F/Gas 7. Remove the aluminium foil, turn the meat over, pour the wine over the meat, then replace the piece of foil and continue roasting for a further 15 minutes (or until cooked to your liking).
Remove the meat from the oven and set aside to rest, foil intact, for 10-15 minutes before carving.
Meanwhile, for the pumpkin ragoût, peel and slice the onions. Heat the oil over a low to medium heat in a large, heavy-based pan and cook the onions slowly.
Finely chop the rosemary needles, crush the juniper berries and add both to the onions. Continue to fry the onions until completely softened. Expect the onions to take a good 15-20 minutes to soften completely.
Meanwhile peel, de-seed and thinly slice the pumpkin (or butternut squash). Cut each slice into small pieces, about 1cm/½in thick (or larger for a less formal meal). Add to the onions and fry for 4-5 minutes, then sprinkle over the flour. Stir well and continue cooking for a further five minutes.
Pour in the stock and wine and bring to the boil. Season with salt and pepper, then reduce the heat to a simmer. Leave, with the occasional stir, for 20 minutes, or until all is tender. Stir in the chopped parsley just before serving.
To serve, spoon the pumpkin ragoût onto plates. Carve the beef and sit the slices on top.
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