From a very young age, one of Neven's favourite pastimes was to shadow his mother in the kitchen, watching her cook; his pastime soon became ...
1.75 kg (4lb) rib of beef on the bone
1 tsp black peppercorns
2 tsp maldon sea salt
1/4 tsp english mustard powder
1.5 kg (3lb) even-sized potatoes (peeled)
2 tblsp rapeseed oil
40 g duck fat
1 garlic bulb, broken into cloves (not peeled)
1 tsp fresh soft thyme leaves
1 large onion (roughly chopped)
1 large carrot (roughly chopped)
2 tsp plain flour
300 ml beef or chicken stock
Preheat the oven to 230C (450F/Gas 8). Heat a small frying pan and toast the peppercorns until aromatic, then place in a pestle and mortar and grind until cracked. Mix in half the salt and the mustard powder. Wipe the meat with damp kitchen paper and then lightly criss-cross the fat with a sharp knife. Rub with the peppercorn mixture.
Place the potatoes in a pan of salted water and bring to the boil. Simmer for 2-3 minutes, then drain and return to the pan. Toss vigorously to knock off the sharp edges and then drizzle in one tablespoon of the rapeseed oil and add the duck fat, garlic cloves and thyme. Toss again until the duck fat has melted and everything is evenly coated.
Pour the rest of the rapeseed oil into roasting tin and add the onion and carrot, tossing to coat. Season to taste and sit the beef on the bed of vegetables. Arrange the potatoes and garlic cloves around the joint and season with the rest of the salt. Roast for 15 minutes and then reduce the oven temperature to 200C (400F/Gas 6) and roast for 10 minutes per 450g (1lb) for rare; 12 minutes for medium-rare and 20-25 minutes for well done. Take out and baste halfway through the cooking and quickly turn over the roast potatoes. Therefore a joint this size will take just under an hour.
Remove the beef from the tin and place on a platter to rest for 15 minutes before carving. Pop the potatoes back into a roasting tin and continue to cook in the oven. To make the gravy, stir the flour into the juices in the roasting tin and then gradually stir in the stock. Place directly on the hob to heat and simmer for 5 minutes, stirring with a wooden spoon. Pour through a sieve into a gravy boat. Carve the beef into slices and arrange on warmed plates with the roasted potatoes. Hand round the gravy separately.