For some bizarre reason British food has a terrible reputation. No one British actually eats Spotted Dick, Jellied Eel, Haggis or Black Pudding. These are weird, horrible stereotypes that have very little basis in truth.
A food that Brits are very proud of (and you have to have something wrong with you to dislike) is a Sunday Roast. Traditionally eaten on a Sunday (surprise, surprise) as lunch and dinner (it’s a pretty big meal), British people love this food – and rightfully so.
Cooking a Sunday Roast is a great way to make friends with your new flatmates and celebrate British culture at the same time. Plus, when you go home in Summer or at Christmas, your family will definitely appreciate this amazing food!
Stage 1 – Pick your meat.
Traditionally Sunday roasts are cooked with a roast chicken or roast beef as a centre piece, but pork and lamb works pretty well too, or Turkey if it’s Christmas. If you’re vegan or vegetarian, I’d recommend getting a nut roast (Waitrose in Portswood do some great ones).
If you’re cooking chicken, get a whole chicken ready the day before you want to serve it as sprinkle in inside and out with salt. Put it in a deep dish and refrigerate over night. In the morning, pre-heat the oven to 190C and brush all the excess salt off. If you’re feeling adventurous, add some root vegetables (I’d recommend carrots) in the bottom of the roasting tin – leave the chicken out for an hour or so until it reaches room temperature.
Squeeze some lemon over the chicken and push the skins inside the cavity of the bird. Pop the chicken in the oven for around an hour until golden.
If you’re cooking with beef: rub the meat with salt and then spread a thin layer of mustard (or a sauce of your choice) over the fat. Then heat the oven to 220C/Gas 7 and cook the meat for 20 minutes. Then, turn the heat down to 180C/gas mark 4 and cook for another 20 minutes (depending on how much you’re cooking).
Stage 2 – Pick your sauce.
For pork, apple sauce is classic – but anything tangy and sweet works. You can get this from any big supermarket. For lamb, it’s got to be mint sauce – again you can pick this up in any major supermarket.
If you’ve chosen chicken or turkey, bread sauce is the traditional go-to. To make this for 5 people, heat half a pint of milk with 1 tablespoon of butter, a chopped onion, a clove and a bayleaf. Boil this all up, leave to cool, and then strain it. Add 60 grams of breadcrumbs to the pan and a little bit of nutmeg. If you want it creamier keep adding milk and butter.
For beef, simple english mustard and horseradish are essential. I’d recommend Coleman’s if you’re trying to be classically British.
Stage 3 – Gravy
Here’s a little secret to the perfect roast – it’s ALL about the gravy baby. The rules are pretty much the same for whatever meat you cook with. Once the meat is cooked, remove it from whatever you’ve roasted it in and rest it in a warm place. Pour the excess liquid into a jug, and 300ml of water/stock and place on the hob, then bring it to the boil. Add a little fat or flour if you want to – some people add pureed carrots and onions to make it a little sweeter.
Stage 4 – Yorkshire Pudding (often referred to as Yorkshires)
Honestly, these are really tricky to make. You can buy them frozen from any supermarket and it will be cheaper and easier. They’re just like pancakes but in a funny shape – if you do chose to make them, there’s lots of recipes online (just google ‘yorkshire pudding recipes’). Also remember to make the batter a day ahead of time, then they will be lighter and even more delicious and that the fat needs to be hotter than hot before adding the batter.
Stage 5 – Potatoes.
There are lots of ways to cook potatoes, mash, boiled, baked – but with a Sunday Roast obviously they need to be roasted. If you’re serving 4-6 people, you want to grab about 1.5kg of potatoes, a little bit of flour, fat, and rosemary.
First step, peel the potatoes and cut them into chunks (I’d go for about the size of an egg). Boil them in salted water until cooked, and then drain. Leave them to dry in a sieve, then place a tea towel over the top. At this point, heat the oven to 220C/Gas 7.
Put fat in a roasting tin (I’d recommend goose fat), and heat it up in the oven until it’s so hot it shimmers. Meanwhile, mix the potatoes and flour with a tablespoon of salt. Tip this into the fat and turn the potatoes until they’re covered.
Roast for 20minutes, then turn and roast for 20minutes more, by the end they should be crisp and golden. Chop up some rosemary and sprinkle it on top.
Stage 6- The Vegetable side dish
This is down to personal choice really. Some people go for sprouts, broccoli and cabbage but a lot of people don’t like them. Carrots and very easy to cook and pretty inoffensive. Other root veg, like parsnips and gorgeous and very easy to cook. I’d also recommend getting a bit of green on the plate, you can’t go wrong with some simple peas. Spinach, butternut squash, shallots, and mushrooms are also great go-tos than anyone can manage.
So there you have it. The perfect roast dinner you can impress your new friends with!
Bonus: if you fancy a dessert, I’d recommend an apple crumble.
Feature image by Rowena Hoskin