Laura Mason's Roasts recipes

Slow-Roast Duck Legs with Marmalade

The orange flavourings can also be used to marinate portions of duck.

Serves 4


4 duck legs

1 generous tablespoon bitter orange marmalade

juice of 1 (sweet) orange

juice of 1 lemon

a little stock (optional)

salt and pepper



Put the duck legs in an ovenproof dish that holds them neatly.

Mix the marmalade, orange and lemon juices, and pour over the duck. Cover and leave in the refrigerator to marinate for 24 hours. Stir from time to time to make sure the duck is well coated with marinade.


Cook the duck legs at 140°C, 275°F, Gas mark 1 for 1¾ hours, turning them after 1 hour. About 15 minutes before the end of cooking time, pour the fat and cooking juices into a bowl and turn up the heat to 170°C, 325°F, Gas mark 3 to crisp the skin.


When the duck legs are ready, remove them to a serving plate. Skim the fat off the reserved cooking juices and use the latter to deglaze the roasting dish (you may want to add a little stock or water to help the process along, but don’t overdo it – there should be a relatively small quantity of thin, concentrated gravy).

Taste, adjust the seasoning, and serve.

Rack of Lamb with a Herb Crust

The rack, or best end of neck of lamb, consists of 6–8 cutlets joined together, with the backbone removed. Often the ends of the bones are cleaned of all meat, and sometimes decorated with paper frills. Two racks presented with the bones making a crisscross formation are known as a guard of honour; three, curved and stitched together vertically so that the meat is inside and the bones radiate in a sunburst, is a crown roast, which was very fashionable during the 1970s.

A lone rack of lamb is a good joint for 2–3 people (although don’t expect leftovers), and also one that is nice cold; the coating of breadcrumbs recalls 17th- and 18th-century ‘dredges’ of flavoured crumbs.

Serves 2 - 3


1 rack of lamb, trimmed

1 fresh rosemary sprig

30g (1oz) fresh white breadcrumbs

2 tablespoons chopped parsley

1 tablespoon chopped basil

1 garlic clove, peeled

and crushed

½ teaspoon salt



Preheat the oven to 180°C, 350°F, Gas mark 4.


Remove the parchment-like skin covering the meat (a thin layer of fat should remain) and scrape the bones clean if the butcher hasn’t done this for you. Put the lamb, bones down, in a small roasting tin or ovenproof dish, tucking the rosemary underneath.


Roast for 30–40 minutes, depending on the size of the rack.

While the lamb cooks, mix the breadcrumbs, parsley, basil, garlic and salt. After the initial roasting, remove the meat from the oven and turn up the heat to 200°C, 400°F, Gas mark 6. Carefully spread the breadcrumb and herb mixture over the fat layer, pressing it down well. Roast for another 10 minutes.


This roast does not produce any gravy worth speaking of, so if you wish to serve it hot, good accompaniments are those which add moisture, such as Boulangère Potatoes or a dish of baked tomatoes.

Roast Beef and

Yorkshire Pudding

Serves 6


a piece of sirloin or rib roast, or wing rib or forerib

1 tablespoon plain flour

1 teaspoon mustard powder

salt and pepper

about 300ml (10fl oz) beef stock

For the pudding

2 eggs, beaten

100g (4oz) plain flour, sifted

a pinch of salt

150ml (5fl oz) milk mixed with 150ml (5fl oz) water

beef dripping from the roast



Take the beef out of the refrigerator about 1 hour before you want to start cooking it. Calculate the cooking time by the fast-roasting method (see below). Preheat the oven to 240°C, 475°F, Gas mark 9. Season the flour with the mustard powder, salt and pepper, and rub it into the fat. Put the meat, bones downward, into a suitable roasting tin and roast for 15 minutes, then reduce the heat to 180°C, 350°F, Gas mark 4.

While the meat is roasting, prepare the pudding batter. Mix the eggs, flour and salt. Then use a whisk to blend in the milk and water, to make a batter with the consistency of thin cream.

Leave to stand.


After the beef has been removed from the oven to rest, turn up the heat to 220°C, 425°F, Gas mark 7. Add 1 generous tablespoon of dripping to the Yorkshire pudding tin and heat it in the oven until smoking hot. Pour in all but about 2 tablespoons of the batter (it should hiss spectacularly if the fat is at the right temperature), then return the pudding to the oven. Cook for about 30 minutes, until it is well browned in patches and light and crisp in texture.


To make the gravy, take the tin the beef was roasted in and spoon off any excess fat. Deglaze with the stock. Let this bubble, and then, off the heat, stir in the remainder of the Yorkshire pudding batter, and keep stirring until the mixture thickens (you may need to heat it gently to achieve this). Add a little more stock if necessary, then taste and adjust the seasoning.

To follow tradition, cut the pudding into squares and eat with gravy before the meat.


There are two basic methods for roasting beef. The first is sometimes known as high-heat or fast roasting. For a fast roast, give the meat 20 minutes at 240°C, 475°F, Gas mark 9, then reduce

the heat to 180°C, 350°F, Gas mark 4 and cook for the following times:


■ Beef on the bone: 15 minutes per 500g (rare); 18–20 minutes per 500g(medium); 25 minutes per 500g (well done).


■ Boneless beef: 12 minutes per 500g (rare); 13–15 minutes per 500g (medium); 20 minutes per 500g (well done).

Slow-Roast Belly Pork with Root Vegetables and Oriental Flavours

Serves 4


about 1.5kg (3½ lb) belly pork, skin scored

2–3 large baking potatoes

1 large carrot

1 sweet potato

2 large parsnips

2–3 small white turnips, or about one-third of a larger yellow turnip

about 1 tablespoon oil

fresh root ginger, about 2cm (¾in), peeled and cut into long matchsticks

a few shallots, peeled and halved lengthways

6–8 garlic cloves, peeled


For the Oriental flavours

2–3 whole star anise

1 teaspoon whole black peppercorns, crushed

40g (1½oz) honey

2 tablespoons soy sauce

2 tablespoons dry sherry

200–300ml (7–10fl oz) chicken stock (keep about a third of this back for the end)



Preheat the oven to 220°C, 425°F, Gas mark 7. Give the pork the boiling water treatment*, and salt lightly. Mix all the oriental flavourings in a small bowl. Wash, trim and peel all root vegetables. Cut into chunks. Put them in a pan, cover with cold water and bring to the boil for about 2 minutes. Drain thoroughly. Heat the oil in a roasting tin until very hot, add the vegetables and turn them. Mix in the ginger, shallots and garlic. Pour over the flavourings and put the pork on top, skin-side up.


Roast for 15 minutes, then reduce the heat to 150°C, 300°F, Gas mark 2. Cook for 2–3 hours; stir the vegetables once or twice.


About 30 minutes before you want to eat, turn the heat back up to 200°C, 400°F, Gas mark 6. Stir the vegetables, then return the tin to the oven. When the crackling is crisp, remove the meat to a warmed serving platter. Arrange the vegetables around it. Keep hot.


Skim the fat off the juices left in the roasting tin. Taste and add more salt if needed. Use hot stock to thin and deglaze any residue in the tin, then pour all juices into a gravy boat.


*Put the pork, skin-side up, on a rack in the sink. Boil a kettleful of water and immediately pour the water evenly over the skin, allowing it to drain straight away. The skin will mostly dry quickly

as the residual hot water evaporates, but blot it with kitchen paper or a clean cloth to make absolutely sure. 

Roast Chicken with Tarragon

The fresh, grassy, slightly aniseed note of tarragon is a classic partner for chicken in French cookery, with many variations on the theme, using poached or roast chicken, served hot or cold. Although recipes for the dish have appeared in several English cookery books over the last 100 years or so, it never seems to have become really popular, perhaps because French tarragon is not especially easy to grow in Britain (Russian tarragon, much more vigorous, lacks the flavour of the French variety).

This is based on a recipe given by Elizabeth David in Summer Cooking (1965).

Serves 4 - 5 


a small bunch of fresh

tarragon 60g (2½ oz) unsalted butter

1 chicken, weighing 2kg (4½ lb)

1 teaspoon grated lemon zest (preferably unwaxed), plus ½ the lemon

salt and pepper

100ml (3½ fl oz) white wine or chicken stock

generous 1 teaspoon

plain flour

150ml (5fl oz) single cream



Preheat the oven to 200°C, 400°F, Gas mark 6. 


Pick the leaves off the tarragon and chop them. Mix a generous tablespoonful of chopped leaves with most of the butter – leave about 15g (½ oz) for finishing the sauce. 

Put the tarragon butter, and the ½ lemon, inside the bird. 

Also spread a little butter over the roasting tin (just enough to stop the bird sticking as it starts to cook), and put the bird in. 


Cover with a lid if the tin has one, or with a piece of oiled or buttered foil.

Roast for about 20 minutes, then reduce the heat to 180°C, 350°F, Gas mark 4. After another 10 minutes, turn the bird onto the other side; cover and roast for another

15–20 minutes, then turn it onto its back.  Keep basting from time to time with the cooking juices and seasoning with salt and pepper towards the end of cooking.


The bird is done when the juices from the thickest part of the leg run clear (pierce it with a clean skewer or the tip of a sharp knife). Make sure the meat around the hip joint between the leg and the body is fully done; there should be no trace of pink. If there is, return the bird to the oven for a few minutes.


When the bird is cooked, remove it to a warmed plate and pour all the juices into a bowl. Deglaze the tin with the white wine, making sure it bubbles fiercely, or with a little chicken stock.


Add all the herby, buttery juices back into the roasting tin.

Add the lemon zest and the remaining butter worked together with the flour. Stir well, then add the cream and the rest of the chopped tarragon, and heat until the sauce boils and thickens.