The Great British Sunday Roast
I’m sure (in these divisive and troubled times) there is one thing we can all agree on; and that’s our love for a Sunday roast!
Whether you are partial to a slice or two of beef, leg of lamb, loin of pork, breast of chicken or even a nut roast; the tradition of a hearty feast has unified families for centuries. However, have you ever wondered how this much loved tradition started?
Let’s start with a fine cut of beef.
During the reign of King Henry VII (1457 - 1509), his Royal Guard would dine on roasted beef every Sunday after church, which led to them affectionately becoming known as “beefeaters”. Local parishioners would drop off their beef on the way to church to be roasted in the large ovens of local bakers, ready to be collected upon their return.
There are many cuts of beef to consider for your Sunday lunch. The go-to joint for a succulent beef roast is a wing rib of beef, which has an eye of tender, marbled meat. If you prefer your meat a little leaner, choose topside, a little fattier, top rump would be a good option.
Remember, during the cooking process some meats will shrink, so consider a slightly larger joint than you need. If you do have any leftovers, these are great for sandwich fillers for the kids on a Monday, or in a salad or curry the following day. Prior to cooking, just let the joint rest - especially if it has been in the fridge. Leave the fat on and add a little salt - this draws moisture from the meat. Finally, a little black pepper and maybe a touch of mustard powder.
Roast pork is common in southern parts of the US, as well as being the traditional dish served for Memorial Day in Hawaii. In areas of the US with larger Cuban, Caribbean and Peurto Rican populations, roast pork is eaten on Christmas Eve.
As with beef, there are many various cuts which will suit a variety of tastes. Pork leg and loin joints are excellent roasting joints with lean meat and good crackling. If you prefer something richer, then shoulder joints and pork belly are ideal as these joints are very fatty. For ease of preparation and cooking time, look no further than a piece of pork fillet. This will easily roast in 45 minutes and mean that most of the accompanying ’trimmings’ can go on at the same time.
The origin of the domesticated sheep goes back to 11,000 BC in Mesopotamia, and share the distinction of being one of the first animals domesticated by mankind. In Australia, the leg of lamb roast is considered to be the national dish.
There are many cuts to choose from with Lamb. If there are just two of you, then a rack or fillet are ideal. They may be a little more expensive, but there won’t be any waste at the end. For a simple, lean roast lamb that’s crisp on the outside and pink and juicy in the middle, go for a leg.
Once the joint is in the oven, it is time to prepare the ‘trimmings’.
This may surprise you, but when potatoes where first brought back to these shores in the late 16th century (yes, nearly 100 years after roast beef), the British treated them with great distaste. During the Industrial Revolution of the 18th and 19th centuries, the potato had its moment. As a cheap, energy-rich addition to an evening meal, the working classes adopted this to many meals - especially the Sunday roast.
Did you know, that Yorkshire pudding and gravy was once an appetiser!
Known as ‘dripping pudding’ it used to sit under the joint as it cooked and caught the juices of the joint as it cooked. National Yorkshire Pudding Day has been celebrated on the first Sunday in February in Britain since 2007.
Crispy, honey roasted, boiled or Sautéed, the humble carrot started off life purple!
Dutch farmers extracted mutant strains of carrots, to develop them into the orange ones we eat today as a tribute to William of Orange, the leader of the Dutch independence at the time.
The term stuffing was first used in the early 16th century, albeit in 1880 it was deemed as being too vulgar for the upper classes and renamed ‘dressing’.