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These beef olives are a classic British delicacy and the ultimate comfort food. Tender beef wrapped around a flavoured sausage meat stuffing and slowly braised in a delicious and rich beef and red wine gravy. They do require a little legwork and a few hours of cooking, but the final result is completely worth it!
What are they?
This recipe is for beef olives of Scottish heritage. You can also find a similar German recipe called Rouladen, which is typically stuffed with bacon, onions and pickles. Then there is also a Maltese recipe called Bragoli which has several variations but often uses ham, boiled egg and cheese. I expect that there is some relationship between all three recipes, with each country adopting their own version of the original recipe after it was introduced. However, there is very little out there which talks about the original heritage of the dish.
British beef olives consist of a sausage meat, onion and herb stuffing, which is wrapped in tenderised steak and then slowly braised in the oven. It’s comfort food at its very best. The olives are simmered in a rich gravy of stock, red wine and carrot, which transforms into a delicious gravy to pour over the meat when serving.
It’s not a quick recipe, neither in prep time nor in cooking duration. You’ll need a good 30-40 minutes to prepare everything, and then 3 hours to cook. But it’s oh so worth it if you want a satisfying and indulgent meal.
What kind of beef should I use?
As the beef in this recipe is braised over several hours, you need a cut of meat that is suited for long and slow cooking times. Silverside and topside are great cuts to go for as is rump or skirt steak.
You might also see steaks labelled as braising steak or casserole steak in your local supermarket. This is the generic term for any type of beef which is suited to slow cooking so will work well for this recipe (as long as it isn’t pre-diced as you need full steaks for this recipe!)
There really is no need to splash out on expensive meat for this recipe. The slow braising will transform a tougher cut into a meltingly tender piece. However, make sure that you choose pieces that don’t look gristly because no amount of cooking will fix that!
Can I make it in the slow cooker?
You can absolutely make beef olives in the slow cooker, perfect if you want to make the dish well ahead of time. Follow the instructions below, up until putting it in the oven. Cook on low for up to 8 hours, or on high for 4-5 hours.
How can I thicken the sauce?
If you feel that the sauce is a little too thin for your liking, then there are a few ways you can thicken it up. Firstly, you can remove the foil for the last 20-30 minutes of the cooking time, which will evaporate some of the liquid, reducing the sauce.
Alternatively, you can make a cornflour slurry. Mix 1 tablespoon of cornflour with 2 tablespoons of water until fully combined and stir it into the gravy. Pop the dish back in the oven for 5 minutes as cornflour requires heat to work properly.
If you are using the slow cooker (particularly if on low heat) then you may need to pour the gravy into a pan to heat it more to provide enough heat to activate the thickening agent.
What can I serve it with?
You can serve these beef olives with similar accompaniments to a roast dinner. Some steaming hot potatoes and roasted veg provide the perfect complement to the meat and rich gravy. A Yorkshire pudding wouldn’t go amiss either!
A few ideas to try include:
- Roasted tenderstem broccoli
- Roast potatoes
- Carrot and swede mash
- Minted peas
- Garlic and leek mashed potato
Can I make them in advance?
These beef olives can be kept in the fridge for up to 3 days, and then reheated in the oven before serving. Make sure they are steaming hot before eating.
You can also freeze leftovers for up to 3 months. Defrost thoroughly in the fridge before reheating. If you are planning on making a batch of these then you can also freeze the uncooked olives too. Make sure that they are well wrapped with string before freezing and only use meat that hasn’t been frozen previously.
Do I need to seal them?
Technically no. They will cook perfectly well without going through the step of browning the meat, carrot and shallots first. However, browning the ingredients helps to add a load of flavour (and extra colour) to the final dish. If you’re going to the trouble of lovingly assembling and preparing each individual olive, then I strongly recommend you take the time to add the extra flavour from pre-browning the meat.
For a full list of ingredients with weights and measurements jump to the printable recipe card.
For the stuffing
- Pork sausage meat – you can buy full sausages and push this out of the cases. You can also substitute pork for chicken or beef if prefered
- Dried breadcrumbs
- Sage, finely chopped
- Garlic cloves, finely chopped or crushed
- Onion, finely diced
- Pine nuts, toasted
For the Beef
- Topside steaks – for alternative cuts see notes above
For the Sauce
- Carrots, diced – alternatively use whole baby or chantenay carrots
- Shallots, cut into halves if large
- Beef stock
- Red wine – use extra beef stock if you prefer to cook without alcohol
How to make it
For more detailed steps with tips jump to the printable recipe card.
- Heat the oven to 170C/340F.
- In a large bowl mix together all the stuffing ingredients and season well.
- Mix the stock and wine in a large baking dish.
- Use a meat tenderiser/hammer or a rolling pin to flatten out the steaks.
- Place a sausage shaped roll of stuffing in the bottom of each slice of seak. Roll tightly to form the ‘olives’. Secure well with kitchen string.
- Brown each olive on all slides in a frying pan/skillet. Transfer to the baking dish.
- Add the onions and shallots to the frying pan and brown lighly on all sides. Tip into the baking dish.
- Cover the baking dish with foil and bake in the oven for 3 hours.
- Remove the string before serving.
Looking for more great meat/roast recipes? Try:
Products that work well for this recipe:
Food Grade Kitchen String
OXO Good Grips Meat Tenderiser
Set of 4 Ceramic Baking Dishes
These beef olives are the ultimate comfort food. Tender beef wrapped around sausage meat stuffing and slowly braised in a delicious beef and red wine gravy.
The default recipe serves four.
For the stuffing
- 250g pork sausage meat (see note 1)
- 50g dried breadcrumbs
- 2 tbsp finely chopped sage (see note 2)
- 2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
- 1 small brown onion, diced
- 2 tbsp toasted pine nuts (see note 3)
For the Beef
- 4 beef topside steaks (around 200g each) (see note 4)
- 1 tbsp olive oil
For the sauce
- 200g carrots, diced (or whole chantenay/baby carrots)
- 150g peeled shallots (see note 6)
- 250ml beef stock
- 250ml red wine (see note 7)
- Preheat the oven to 170C/340F.
- Mix the beef stock and wine in a large baking dish
- First, make the stuffing mix. Combine all the ingredients together in a large bowl and season well.
- Next, use a meat tenderiser or a rolling pin to flatten out the steaks. You want them to be a few mm thick and not so thin that holes develop in the surface.
- Divide the stuffing mixture into 4 and roll each into a sausage-shaped piece. Place at the end of a piece of steak and roll it tightly into a sausage-shaped piece (the olive) (see note 7).
- Wrap kitchen string around each piece to secure it in place.
- Heat the olive oil in a large frying pan and then brown the olives all over (around 4-5 minutes). Use tongs to move them to a large baking dish.
- Add the carrots and shallots to the pan and cook for a further 2-3 minutes until they are starting to turn golden on the edges. Transfer them to the baking dish with the olives and cover tightly with foil.
- Bake in the oven for 3 hours.
- Remove the string before serving.
- If you don’t eat pork you can substitute for beef or chicken sausage meat.
- Dried sage can be substituted but use half the amount.
- If you don’t have any pine nuts, or don’t like them, you can leave them out. Or you can substitute with roughly chopped cashew nuts.
- As the beef is slowly braised you can use any cut which is geared for long and slow cooking. Topside and rump steak are great options, as is any steak which is labelled ‘braising steak’
- Pearl onions also work well, although are milder than shallots in flavour (which you may or may not prefer).
- You can substitute the wine for additional beef stock.
- Prep Time: 40 minutes
- Cook Time: 3 hours
- Category: Dinner
- Method: Oven
- Cuisine: British
- Serving Size: 1
- Calories: 725
- Fat: 30g
- Carbohydrates: 29g
- Protein: 75g
Keywords: british, scottish, beef, steak, dinner, comforting, indulgent, pork, gravy