Roast Beef and Trenchers

Preparation info

  • Difficulty


  • Serves


Appears in

Floyd on Britain & Ireland

By Keith Floyd

Published 1988

  • About

A trencher was a wooden platter for serving meat. Sometimes they were made of bread, and then they were eaten up, with all the soaked-in juices and gravy, at the end of the meal. Hence a trencherman was the servant who turned the meat and kept the trenches warm – or else he was a hearty eater who guzzled up all the plates after everyone else had left! That’s the end of the history lesson.


  • 8 lb (4 kg) prime English rib of beef on the bone
  • 1 lb (500 g) carrots
  • 1 lb (500 g) small onions
  • 1 lb (500 g) parsnips
  • 2 lb (1 kg) potatoes
  • 10 fl oz (300 ml) stock
  • Salt and pepper

For the trenchers

  • ½ oz (15 g) sugar
  • 11 fl oz (330 ml) tepid milk
  • 10 fl oz (300 ml) tepid water
  • 2 oz (50 g) fresh yeast
  • 1 oz (25 g) fat
  • 2 lb (1 kg) flour
  • ½ oz (15 g) salt


Put the beef in a large roasting tin and cover with aluminium foil. Roast in the centre of the oven at gas mark 5, 375°F (190°C), for 1 hour. Place the whole vegetables around the joint and baste. Add the stock and seasoning. Put back in the oven, uncovered, and cook for another 45 minutes. Take the meat and vegetables out of the roasting tin and leave to rest in a warm place. Pour the juices from the roasting tin into a sauce/fat separator and keep warm.

To make the trenchers, dissolve the sugar in the milk and water and mix in the yeast. Leave for 10 minutes in a warm atmosphere. Rub the fat into the dry ingredients and stir in the yeast mixture. Cover and leave to prove at room temperature for 45 minutes. Knead and leave for a further 15 minutes.

Divide the dough into 8 equal pieces and roll each piece into a round 8 in. (20 cm) across. Place on well greased plates, prick all over and leave to prove for 20 minutes before the beef is ready. As you remove the cooked joint from the oven, raise the temperature to gas mark 6, 400°F (200°C), and bake the trenchers for 20 to 25 minutes.

To serve, pour some beef gravy on to each trencher, then top with a good slice of the roast beef accompanied by the roasted vegetables.