Spiced Topside Braised in Cider

This is a dish for a large gathering, unless you want a lot of leftovers. These are, though, delicious in sandwiches, salads or as potted beef. It is also a good-tempered dish and can be left for several hours to cook in a slow oven. Start the preparation at least the day before and marinate the beef overnight. It can marinate for up to 72 hours. This is not unlike the traditional German sauerbraten.


  • 4 lb / 1.80 kg boned and rolled topside or silverside
  • 2 tsp salt
  • 2 tsp ground cardamom
  • 3 tsp ground ginger
  • ¼ pt / 140 ml cider vinegar
  • ¾ pt / 430 ml dry cider
  • 1 medium-sized onion, peeled and sliced
  • 1 medium-sized carrot, peeled and sliced
  • 1 leek, trimmed, sliced and washed
  • 1 celery stalk, trimmed and sliced
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • 6 cloves
  • 1 tbsp allspice berries
  • 1 tbsp black peppercorns
  • 1 tsp ground mace
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 tsp plain flour
  • ½ oz / 15 g butter, softened


Trim and wipe the beef. Rub it all over with the salt, cardamom and 2 teaspoons of the ginger, and place it in a large bowl. Place the vinegar, cider, vegetables, bay leaves, cinnamon, cloves, allspice, peppercorns and mace in a saucepan, bring to the boil and pour over the meat. Cool quickly, then cover and refrigerate for up to 72 hours, turning the meat occasionally.

When ready to cook the meat, choose a casserole only slightly larger than the joint. Remove the meat from the marinade and dry it all over. Heat the oil in a frying pan or in the casserole if it is flameproof. When the oil is hot, sear the meat all over until browned. Put it into the casserole, and add about half the marinade and vegetables. Cover and cook in a preheated oven at 170–180°C / 325–350°F / Mark 3–4 for 3½ hours. Check the liquid level after a couple of hours, and add more of the marinade and vegetables if you wish.

When the meat is cooked transfer it to a carving dish and keep it warm. Pour the pan juices and any remaining marinade and vegetables into a saucepan and bring to the boil. Simmer for a few minutes while you prepare a ginger beurre manié by mixing together the flour, softened butter and the remaining teaspoon of ginger. Drop the beurre manié, bit by bit, into the saucepan, stir and cook for a further 10 minutes. Slice the meat and strain the sauce over it or into a sauceboat.