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Christmas recipes: How to cook roast rib of beef with Béarnaise sauce, plus potato and bacon terrine, by Amelie in Cambridge

Christmas has always been a super special day for us with the build-up and excitement and even from being a young child I remember it has always been about the food and wine rather than presents.

The big Christmas dinner in France is eaten on Christmas Eve with each family and region having its own preference and customs. This is a big feast that can include any or all of the traditional festive foods of foie gras mousse, oysters, scallops Coquilles Saint-Jacques as they are called, caviar, smoked salmon as well as the escargot -snails and quails eggs.

Regis Crepy, left, and Alexander Crepy from Amelie restaurant in The Grafton centre in Cambridge. Picture: Richard Marsham
Regis Crepy, left, and Alexander Crepy from Amelie restaurant in The Grafton centre in Cambridge. Picture: Richard Marsham

Dinde aux marrons, the turkey stuffed with chestnuts is popular but wild game like pheasant, guinea fowl or goose are becoming more a dish of choice nowadays. The menu continues with a large cheese platter served before dessert of Bûche de Noël - the Yule Log, which was originally an actual log burned in a hearth to bring good luck and warmth for the year ahead.

Sizzling roast beef however is our traditional meal for Christmas Day, though we do think every year that we must try something different. As we’ve usually eaten enough turkey over the festive season however, a simple rib of beef is perfect. Tender, succulent and full of deep flavour, it doesn’t take hours to prepare, fills the whole house with a beautiful smell and looks fantastic on the table next to a bottle or two of red wine - a good shiraz usually from the Northern Rhone region is a favourite.

Despite being French, I have to say that the British really know how to champion their produce and in my mind have the best beef in the world. In France after all we do call the British ‘roast beef’ and in turn the British call us ‘frogs’!

The climate here in the UK is ideal for lush green, well-watered pastures where the extraordinary wealth of native breeds thrive and produce such fantastic quality meat. We like Suffolk native Red Pol from Lavenham Brook Farm for best flavour and texture.

Béarnaise sauce is my go to for any steak or beef dish. Typically French, it’s got a little more pizazz than mayo with the aniseedy richness of tarragon and savoury shallots in the creamy sauce that doesn’t take the focus away from the meat. We’d also serve a potato dish such as this crispy potato and bacon terrine in today’s recipe with green beans and almonds as a side vegetable.

Potato and Bacon Terrine. Picture: Amelie
Potato and Bacon Terrine. Picture: Amelie

We always like to finish a good meal with something sweet and enjoy a selection such as these financier petit fours and rum and raisin truffles.

The beef, of course, doesn’t have to be finished in one day. Cold beef is sublime - steak sandwiches are the ultimate Boxing Day treat with some crisp sourdough and a healthy dollop of butter.

If you fancy giving the recipes a try, we’d love to see your dishes. Feel free to put on social media and tag us in @chezamelie_cambridge.

Bon Appetit et Joyeux Noel!

Alex Crepy


Roast Rib of Beef with Béarnaise sauce

Serves 4

Rib of Red Poll beef. Picture: Amelie
Rib of Red Poll beef. Picture: Amelie


1.5kg rib of beef on the bone (2 ribs separated)
Salt and pepper
Olive oil for searing
Béarnaise sauce
440g unsalted butter for clarified butter
2 shallots, sliced
10g crushed peppercorns
20g tarragon, finely chopped
1 bay leaf
150ml white wine
150ml white wine vinegar
5 egg yolks
20ml water
Pinch of cayenne pepper
Salt and white pepper


Make the clarified butter:
Melt the unsalted butter in a pan, then remove from the heat and allow to cool. Slowly pour off the liquid fat – the clarified butter – into another pan, leaving behind the white liquid (le petit lait) which you can discard.

Make the Béarnaise sauce:
Melt the clarified butter slowly. Keep it warm. Put the shallots in a clean pan with the peppercorns, half the tarragon, the bay leaf, wine and vinegar. Cook over a medium heat until reduced. Transfer to a small container.
Put the egg yolks and water in a rounded bowl and suspend over a pan of hot simmering water. Whisk until it expands and starts to thicken. When you lift the whisk and there is a ‘continuous ribbon’ start beating in the clarified butter, a little at a time, still whisking continuously. Beat in the reserved reduction and then pass through a fine sieve. Add the remaining tarragon, cayenne pepper, salt and pepper to taste. Whisk again and keep warm.

Preheat the oven to 180°C gas mark 4. Season the ribs on both sides and sear them on a very hot griddle or frying pan with a little olive oil for about one minute each side. Place them in a roasting pan and cook in the preheated oven for 10 minutes for medium-rare. Remove them from the oven and leave to rest for 5 minutes.

Remove the bones and then slice the meat, dividing it between four serving plates. Serve the Béarnaise sauce on the side with the potato and bacon terrine and green almonds.

Potato and Bacon Terrine


20 long smoked streaky bacon cut thinly
650g Maris Piper Potatoes, peeled, wafer-thin, sliced with a ‘mandolin’, washed and dried
350g Conte, Gruyere or Cheddar cheese
3 eggs
2 egg yolks
400 ml cream
Handful mixed fresh herbs to taste
Salt and pepper to taste


Preheat the oven to 180° C.

Lay a cling film sheet (larger and longer than the size of your terrine dish) on the table. Overlay the slices of bacon in the middle of the sheet and up to the length of the terrine and cover with another sheet of cling film. Flatten the layers of sliced bacon as much as possible with a flat spatula.

Turn your terrine upside-down over the bacon. Holding the sheet of cling film, turn the terrine back up right. The bacon will now line the base of the terrine with a layer of cling film underneath.

With your fingers, push down the bacon and ensure it coats all the inside of the dish and hangs out over the sides. Remove the top layer of cling film.

Mix together the eggs, egg yolks and cream and add the chopped herbs.

Start layering some potato slices at the bottom of the terrine, then sprinkle with some grated cheese and a little of the egg mixture just to cover the potatoes. Continue to layer to the top of the terrine. Fold the overhanging slices of bacon back over to cover the terrine. Then cover with foil and cook at 180°C in the oven for about 1h 15 mins.

Once cooked, put a weight on top to keep the terrine pressed down. Leave to cool down and then put in the fridge overnight.

Remove the terrine from the tin the following day and cut into 4cm slices. Fry each slice on both sides in a pan with a little olive oil until hot. Serve immediately with a sauce of your choice.

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