publication date: Sep 8, 2011
author/source: Fiona Beckett
It’s a myth, of course, that every family sits down to a Sunday roast these days but it is undoubtedly the meal that most students miss most when they go off to uni. But so long as you have an oven - or one of your friends does - you can perfectly well make one for yourself.
There are specific recipes elsewhere on the site and the Facebook page for the various components of the meal - No-carve Roast Chicken, roast potatoes and gravy but here are some general tips which apply to pretty well any roast you make.
* Timing is crucial if you’re to get the meat and the veggies to the table at the same time. Work out how long the whole process is going to take (the actual roasting time plus heating the oven and resting time (see below). If the recipe you're using isn’t specific it may suggest a certain number of minutes per 500g or pound. (Take the meat out of the fridge an hour before you plan to cook it to give it a chance to come to room temperature (cuts the cooking time)
* The general sequence is 1) heat oven 2) put meat in oven 3) prepare and put potatoes on to par-boil (see below) 4) put potatoes in oven 5) turn or baste meat and potatoes 6) put veggies on to cook (then keep warm once they’re finished) 7) take out meat, leaving potatoes to finish cooking 8) make gravy 9) carve meat 10) Dish up on warm plates (heat in oven for a few minutes once you’ve turned it off or run under the hot tap. Stops the meal going cold on your plate)
* Preheat the oven before you put the meat in. (Not necessary with slow roasting but that’s a different story)
* Before the meat goes into the oven smear the joint with a little oil to stop it drying and season with salt and pepper
* You may need to open the oven door to baste the joint (spoon oil or pan juices over it), turn it or move it down an oven shelf or to add the potatoes but don’t keep opening it or you will lower the oven temperature and the meat will take longer to cook.
* get rid of fatty pan juices as you go along. otherwise your roast will steam rather than brown. Add a little water, wine or stock to stop the remaining pan juices from burning (which will mess up your gravy)
* roast potatoes will cook quicker and be crunchier if you part-boil them first
* Rest the joint at the end for 10-15 minutes to relax the fibres and make it juicier and easier to carve. Put it on a plate and cover loosely with foil to keep it warm.
* to make gravy carefully tilt the roasting pan to pour off most of the fat, leaving about a tablespoon and all the lovely meaty juices. Then put the pan on the hob over a low heat, pour in about a mugful of stock or wine and work it round the pan to prise off the nice sticky bits round the outside of the pan. Add a bit more stock (or the water which you used to cook the potatoes) and bubble up until the liquid has reduced by about half. Adjust the seasoning. It will probably need salt unless your stock is particularly salty and might need a few drops of soy sauce or Worcestershire sauce to zip it up. If it tastes bitter try adding a squirt or dollop of tomato ketchup. Pour in any meat juices that have accumulated under the roast.
If you want a thicker, more traditional gravy or one that stretches further, stir a heaped tablespoon of flour into the pan juices before you add the stock, work it in well then gradually add about 300ml (a mug and a half) of stock bit by bit until it thickens. (Do this over a low heat otherwise your gravy will go lumpy.