- 5 1/2 pounds (or thereabouts) top loin or tenderloin if you feeling extravagant (or whatever cut of beef you prefer)
- 5 lemons
- 1 teaspoon Maldon or other sea salt
- 3 fresh red chillies, seeded and finely chopped
- 5 tablespoons fresh parsley, chopped
- 5 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
- 1 head frisee (curly endive) lettuce
- 2 heads radicchio
- 4 romaine lettuce hearts
- Approx. 3-ounce block Parmesan
Preheat the oven to 425 Fahrenheit. For rare beef, cook for 12 minutes per pound; it will continue cooking as it cools so be prepared to take it out of the oven when it still looks underdone to you.
This should give you divinely ruby-rare roast beef; obviously, though, cook for longer if you want it less red. Anyway, set aside till cool. If, however, you’re going to eat the roast beef rare and hot, then just stick it in the hottest oven you can for 15 minutes and then turn the oven down to 350 degrees and cook it for 15 minutes per pound plus 15 minutes at the end. I’m hesitant about making this all sound too exact, because ovens vary enormously and the length of time it take to roast rare roast beef in one oven can leave it either leathery and overcooked or still cold in the middle in another. Perhaps I exaggerate, but not by much. Probably the best advice is to say to go slowly and test often, though not stabbing (you don’t want to lose all of the glorious red juices) but by pressing: when the beef’s rare it will feel soft and eiderdown-bouncy to the touch; when medium rare it will feel springy; when well cooked it will have pretty much no bounce left in it. Of course, you can pierce with a knife to make really sure, but just try to leave that to the end, rather than puncture repeatedly throughout its cooking.
To make the salad, cut the tops and bottoms off the lemons. Sit them upright on a board on one end, and cut away the zest and pith from top to bottom with a sharp knife till only the juicy lemon remains. Now slice into rounds then chop each round into about four, and place on a large plate or shallow bowl. Sprinkle the salt over them then scatter with the chopped chillies and parsley and pour over the oil. Leave to steep while you carve the beef and get on with the rest of the salad. Which simply means, tear the frisee, radicchio and romaine hearts into rough pieces and mix together in a large bowl. Shave in most of the Parmesan with a vegetable peeler and pour in most of the lemon chunks, and all their oily juices. Mix together thoroughly with your fingers then decant onto a couple of large, flat serving plates (I so much prefer salad on plates than in bowls), adding any more oil (or indeed lemon juice) if you think the dressing needs thus augmenting, then add the remaining lemon chunks and shave in a final few slithering curls of Parmesan.