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Preheat the oven to Gas mark 4-5, 180-190°C, 350-375°F.
Prepare the thyme butter: In a small bowl mix together the butter, thyme leaves and seasoning.
Place the joint on a chopping board and spread generously with the thyme butter.
Place on a metal rack in a large non-stick roasting tin and open roast for the preferred, calculated cooking time, basting occasionally with any beef juices.
30 minutes before the end of the cooking time, remove the joint from the tin with the rack, add the shallots to the pan with the balsamic vinegar, and gently shake. Place the joint directly on top of the shallots, and return to the oven.
When the beef is ready remove the joint from the tin with the vegetables and transfer to a warmed plate, cover and set aside to rest.
Prepare the gravy; Spoon off any excess fat from the roasting tin and discard. Place the tin over a medium heat and sprinkle over the flour. Stir well with a small whisk or spoon, add a little stock and stir again, scraping the base of the pan to release any rich, beefy sediment.
Add the remaining stock, Madeira or Port and any meat juices from the platter, adjust the seasoning, if required and simmer for 8-10 minutes, stirring occasionally, or until reduced to a well-flavoured gravy. Strain before serving.
Serve with roast potatoes, roasted parsnips, cranberry and parmesan stuffing and the gravy.
Rare: 20 minutes per 450g/1lb plus 20 minutes
Medium: 25 minutes per 450g/1lb plus 25 minutes
Well done: 30 minutes per 450g/1lb plus 30 minutes
1.3kg-1.8kg/3-4lb lean boneless rib or sirloin joint
75g/3oz butter, softened
1 large bunch fresh thyme leaves
Salt and freshly milled black pepper
20-25 shallots, peeled and left whole
30-60ml/2-4tbsp good, aged, balsamic vinegar
15ml/1tbsp plain flour
300ml/½pint hot, good beef stock
150ml/¼pint Madeira or Port