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Lifestyle: The Great British Sunday Roast

by Jonathan Fairfield
20 July, 2013
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Jonathan lives and works in Thailand as a writer and English Teacher. He is fanatical about football which makes it all the more strange that he should support Stockport County. In addition to watches, Jonathan has a passion for fitness and nutrition and writes for a blog on the subject.

The Great British Roast Dinner

Lifestyle

Following on from our look at the traditions of Afternoon Tea and fish and chips, this week we take a look a the Great British Sunday Roast.

On a chilly Sunday winter morning, the slightest thought that in just a couple of hours you’ll be sat in front of a plate piled high with a mouth watering selection of roasted meats, piping hot roast potatoes and ‘all the trimmings’ is for many Brits the culinary highlight of the week.

Whether it’s eaten at the local pub or at home with the family, the Great British Sunday roast is undoubtedly the king of all meals, and the culinary highlight of the week.

It is thought that the traditional roast dinner was first eaten in medieval England where large joints of beef were roasted and served to the working folk after attending their Sunday church service. It was during Queen Victoria’s reign when the roast dinner (with all the trimmings) turned into a lavish affair and which for many aristocrats and members of the upper class became a symbol of power, prosperity and wealth. It was during this time that the image of the family unit sat around the table waiting  for father to sharpen his carving knife and carve the Sunday joint became firmly established.

Today, the roast dinner may come in many variations and guises and might not be quite as prevalent as it was in Victorian Britain, but the fact is that the Sunday roast remains at the heart of a Great British family feast.

The traditional roast dinner

The centre piece to any roast dinner is of course the meat. As tradition would have it, this is normally a great slab of a four rib standing of the finest British beef, which looks every bit as delicious as it smells and will undoubtedly taste. Diners are advised to take a moment and marvel at the splendour of such fare before devouring.

As for its size, the bigger the joint of meat the better (obviously) but the main thing to note here is that it should be large enough so that the head of the family can carve away in an almost ceremonial manner. The meat also needs to be cooked so that everyone can enjoy slices cut to what they consider to be perfection: for example, crispy and almost blackened on the outside (not burnt), with leaner, juicy and rarer meat in the centre.

You might also want to think about leftovers, or at least ensuring that you buy a large enough joint so that there is a sufficient left over to make sandwiches for a day or two later.

Of course it’s perfectly fine to serve your roast dinner with a succulent leg of Welsh lamb, roasted pork with crackling or even some kind of poultry. What matters most is that there is plenty to go around, with no one willing to leave the table until they have eaten more than their fair share.

All the trimmings

To accompany the offering several slices of meat, there needs to be generous servings of roast potatoes, preferably boiled for ten minutes before being shaken and based in order to rough up the edges and add a bit of texture. They’ll then need to be roasted in piping hot goose fat, sprinkled with sea salt and served.

The roast potato doesn’t just taste great, it also has a practical use, which is of course to help mop up the lashings of gravy, of which your plate should be almost swimming.

Before we go any further, proper gravy is made from the juices of the meat, with a bit seasoning added, even a bit of wine if you are that way inclined. Gravy does not come from out of a packet and in the form of granules. You do not ‘simply add hot water.’

And gravy isn’t to be confused with some kind of French style sauce or jus, of which there are hundreds of varieties. We don’t need all of that, for gravy and only gravy does the job perfectly well.

As for the rest of a roast dinner, a fluffy Yorkshire pudding will help you to soak up any of the excess gravy the roasties may have left behind. You’ll also need some vegetables, cabbage, broccoli, roast parsnips, carrots, maybe even some peas or green beans, this part of the traditional roast is entirely your own choice.

You may choose to have a bit mustard, horseradish or mint sauce on the side. If you even consider tomato ketchup, you should hang your head in shame.

Despite the roast dinner being made of a few key elements,  in reality each family will almost certainly have their own roast dinner traditions that will have been passed down through the generations, marking their own favourite way of eating the meal.

It should also be noted that the roast dinner is best followed not by a coffee, liqueur or any other form of after dinner digestif but by several hours spent napping on the sofa.

Jonathan Fairfield | Website

Jonathan lives and works in Thailand as a writer and English Teacher. He is fanatical about football which makes it all the more strange that he should support Stockport County. In addition to watches, Jonathan has a passion for fitness and nutrition and writes for a blog on the subject.

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