Archive for the ‘Sunday Roast’ Category

However much you enjoy it, a traditional British Sunday lunch of roast meat, vegetables and accompaniments can become a bit predictable.  It is good sometimes to ring the changes with a slight twist, especially if that twist is a relatively simple one: essential in our very busy Sunday household.  It was the slightly unusual sauce recipe that attracted my attention, which proved easy to adapt.  Designed to accompany expensive beef fillet, I cooked it with a different cut of beef, which slowly roasted while we were out at church.  As I had thought, it was delicious!

The original recipe, Pepper-crusted Fillet of Beef with Roasted Balsamic Onions & Thyme, comes from Delia Smith’s How to Cook, Book 3.  The original recipe was for fillet of beef cooked quickly on the bed of onions which were then made into a sauce.  Using a different cut of beef, which needed a slower cooking time, I prepared and cooked it in my usual way.  (I usually give a silverside or topside joint a slow cooking for Sunday lunch while we are out for the morning.)  Instructions are given below for my version using the cheaper cut of silverside beef (topside beef could be cooked in the same way).  If entertaining and using a finer cut of meat it can, of course, be cooked for the shorter time (refer to the recipe via the link above).  Delia Smith recommends the onions are added right at the start of the cooking time, however if I had done this with the lengthy cooking they would have been cooked to a crisp and useless, hence my adapted version. I also use my own cornflour based method for making the sauce.  Delia suggests the recipe could be accompanied by Potatoes Boulangère with RosemaryIt is difficult though to get away without serving Roast Beef with Yorkshire Puddings plus any usual favourite side dishes and sauces. 

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Roast Beef with Roasted Balsamic Onion & Thyme Sauce
(Serves 6)

1lb 8oz-2lb/680-900g silverside/topside beef (original: middle-cut beef fillet)
a knob of butter (orig: drizzle of oil)
1-3tsp ground black peppercorns (be generous for a hotter flavour)
2fl oz/55ml balsamic vinegar
1 level tbsp dark brown sugar
1 tbsp olive oil
1lb/450g medium sized red onions
2 tablespoons chopped fresh thyme
For the sauce:
1 heaped tsp cornflour
1tbsp Worcestershire sauce
1tbsp balsamic vinegar
½pt/275 ml red wine (can be the end of a bottle which has been frozen)

1.  To allow the flavours to develop start the recipe at least 2 hours before cooking, if possible.  Rub the meat with a little butter and grind the peppercorns over the surface of the beef, pressing in well – the more you add the hotter it will be. 

2.  To make the onion sauce mix the sugar and balsamic vinegar together thoroughly in a large bowl and leave it to rest while preparing the onions so the sugar dissolves.  Peel the onions and leaving the root intact cut each one into eight wedges.  Add the onion wedges and a tablespoon of oil to the bowl with the sugar and vinegar and gently toss to coat.  Cover and leave to one side while the meat is cooking.  (Doing this early in the day is a useful time saver for when time is short later in the morning but alternatively it can be done while the meat is cooking.)

3.  Preheat the oven 150oC/300oF/Gas 2. 

4.  Put about 1cm/½inch water in a roasting dish to keep the meat moist.  Place the meat on a rack in the dish, cover and cook for about 2 hours or even a little longer.  Check that the dish is not going dry when you can (if you are out then look as soon as you return).

5.  Remove the roasting tin from the oven, removing the meat and the rack.  Raise the oven temperature to 180oC/350oF/Gas 4.

6.  Pour off any excess meat juices and fat which can be used either to make gravy (there is usually someone who wants gravy as well as sauce) or to use in other dishes.   It is not necessary to wash the roasting tin, unless it has gone dry and burned.

7.  Spread the onion mixture out in the base of the roasting tin.  Sprinkle over the thyme leaves and season well with salt.   Place the beef on top of the onion mixture.  Cover, return to the oven and continue cooking for 20 minutes.

8.  Remove the beef from the tin and transfer to a warm place to rest.  Return the tin with the onions to the oven and cook for another 5-10 minutes.  Depending on size of onion, carefully remove two to three whole wedges per diner from the dish and keep warm alongside the meat.  Finely chop the remaining onion along with any juices from the pan that the meat has been cooked in.  (If needed add some of the meat juice from earlier, but not the fat.)  In a small saucepan mix the cornflour with the Worcester Sauce and the balsamic vinegar to make a paste and then gradually add the wine and finally the chopped onion.  Bring to the boil until the sauce starts to thicken, stirring constantly to prevent it from becoming lumpy.  Turn down the heat and simmer gently until the sauce has reduced by about a quarter.  Check and adjust seasoning as required.

9.  To serve, carve the beef and stir any extra meat juices into the sauce.  Serve garnished with the onions and the sauce poured over, plus whatever accompaniments for roast beef you prefer.


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I love roast chicken but strangely enough we rarely eat it.  Perhaps it is the knowledge that after the meal is over and the washing up done, there is still a carcass to pick over.  Perhaps it is that, although I know how it ought to be carved, in practice I usually end up with a pile of bits rather than neat slices: tastes good but looks awful.  From time to time however I do buy a chicken, especially as a whole bird is very economical and can be stretched to several meals, so when I saw this delicious sounding recipe I took the plunge.  (Sure enough there were leftovers which became Chicken Fricasee and a Chicken Salad for one, as well as delicious stock made from the remainder of the carcass – plus a few bits for our persistent puss-cat!)  I know I have included a recipe for Roasted Lemon Chicken in the past, but that was for chicken pieces (I usually use thighs) whereas this recipe is for a whole bird and includes spices and a lot of garlic as well, so it is a variation rather than a repeat.  I am sure that it would also be an excellent way to cook individual chicken pieces/thighs.

The recipe comes from Mediterranean Food by Christine France, an excellent charity shop find that originally came from Tesco supermarket.  I have given the original cooking times in the instructions below but all my Sunday Roasts have to fit around going to church (in our case leaving home at around 9.30 and not usually back until well after 1pm, such is vicarage life!)   I have to put any roasting joint in the oven on a much lower heat as I go out, turning the temperature up and (usually) uncovering the meat when we return giving it a final burst of heat before allowing it to stand for a briefly before carving.  Perhaps this is why my meat breaks up, however the flavour is rarely spoiled, just the appearance.

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Aromatic Lemon Roast Chicken

1.25kg/2lb 12ozs Roasting Chicken
1 whole head of garlic
2 lemons
4 cardamom pods
1tsp cumin seeds
4 cloves
2tbsp olive oil
Salt & black pepper
200ml/7 fl ozs chicken stock or water
1tbsp cornflour

1.  Preheat the oven to 180oC/350oF/Gas 4. For the original cooking times follow the instructions at Step 8. 
If cooking in the oven for a longer time, do not preheat the oven.  Follow the instructions in step 9

2.  Cut the garlic head in half horizontally. Cut the lemons into wedges.  Lightly crush the cardamom pods, cumin seeds and cloves in a mortar and pestle. 

3.  Lightly oil the roasting tin to stop the meat from sticking.  Place the half of the garlic with the root end and half of the lemon wedges in the bottom of the tin and sprinkle over the crushed spices.

4.  Check inside the chicken and remove any giblets.  These can be cooked gently in a little water for chicken stock and/or chicken gravy.  Carefully rinse the chicken, running water through the cavity. 

5.  Gently ease the skin on the chicken breast upwards to create a cavity.  It should be easy to put your fingers in at the edge of the neck/chest cavity.  Be careful the skin does not tear.  Push half of the remaining lemon wedges underneath the skin. 

6.  Place the remaining wedges inside the chicken along with the remaining half of the garlic.

7.  Put the chicken, breast side downwards, into a roasting tin.  Rub over the remaining oil and season well.  Add two tablespoonfuls of stock or water.  Cover with a well fitting lid or lightly oiled foil to prevent sticking.

Follow either the cooking instructions at Step 8 (original timings) or Step 9 (longer, slower cooking time – useful when going out)

8.  Cook for one hour at preheated temperature.  Turn the chicken over and baste by spooning the collected juices over the meat to help browning and moistness.  Return to the oven and roast for a further hour, or until cooked.  Remove the lid or cover for the last 30minutes to allow the chicken to brown and crisp, but watch that it does not burn and the tin does not go dry – add a little water or stock if necessary to prevent this.  When it is cooked the juices should run clear when a knife is inserted into the thickest part of the thigh.

9.  If leaving this to cook in the oven for a longer period, then set the oven on to 140oC/275oF/Gas 1 when you put the chicken in. After about 2-3 hours take the chicken from the oven, turn it over and baste it well.  Be careful as it can start to break up while being turned.  Increase the heat to 180oC/350oF/Gas 4 and return to the oven, uncovered, for about 30 minutes to allow the chicken to brown and crisp, but watch that it does not burn and the tin does not go dry – add a little water or stock if necessary to prevent this.  When it is cooked the juices should run clear when a knife is inserted into the thickest part of the thigh.

10.  Remove the chicken from the tin and allow the meat to rest, uncovered and in a warm place, for about 15 minutes before carving.  (The resting time can be omitted or cut short if necessary, but it does make carving a bit easier and is always recommended for meat.)

11.  While it is resting strain off the chicken juices from the pan, skimming off any excess fat.  This can be reserved for roasting potatoes if you wish and will give a subtle garlic and lemon flavour.  Dissolve the cornflour in a little water and gently combine with the strained juices and the remaining stock or water.  Cook in a pan over a gentle heat stirring all the time until slightly thickened.  Pour this gravy into a jug and keep warm.

12.  Carve meat and serve.  Excess meat can be kept for several days and eaten cold or cooked into other hot dishes.  The carcass can be made into stock along with the giblets if not already used: cover with water and gently cook with added vegetables (carrot, celery and a bay leaf, along with the roasted garlic heads if you wish) – freeze until needed.

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I often abandon traditional roast dinners in the hot weather, but this zesty lemon flavoured dish has a ‘summery’ feel and would be good served with salad, although it could equally as well be eaten with potatoes and vegetables.  The original recipe was called Chicken with Spicy Potatoes, which was how I first served it, except I successfully used chicken thighs in place of the chicken legs.  The original recipe suggested that the chicken was served with a simple side dish of green peas as well as the potatoes in a spicy sauce, instructions for which were included.  I decided the chicken part of the dish was more successful on its own and I had better spicy potato recipes in other places. 

The original recipe was found in the July 2009 issue of the ASDA free instore magazine. This recipe is extremely lemony but we like it that way.  It might be wise to halve the amount of lemon to give a less strong flavour the first time it is made.

Variation – see further down:
Roasted Lemon Chicken with Rosemary & Red Onion

100_4886 Lemon chicken

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Roasted Lemon Chicken
(Serves 4)

4 Chicken leg or breast quarters
1 or 2 chicken thighs per person, depending on size
1 large onion, cut into eight pieces
2 garlic cloves, halved
2 lemons, washed

1.  Preheat oven to 190oC/Fan 170oC/Gas 5.

2.  Put the chicken pieces, removing the skins if you wish, into a greased roasting dish along with the garlic and onion pieces.  Halve the lemons, squeeze the juice over the meat and place the shells in the dish.

3.  Cover and bake for 45 minutes. If you wish to crisp the chicken skin then uncover the dish for the last 5-10minutes, but add a little water if necessary to stop the pan drying out and burning.

4.  For a citrus gravy, thicken any meat juices with cornflour, first straining out any bits and removing excess fat.

5.  Serve with roasted or spiced potatoes and peas or salad.

Variations on this recipe:

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Roasted Lemon Chicken with Rosemary & Red Onion
(use red onions in place of white and add four or five sprigs of fresh rosemary – preferable to dried)

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In her novel Chocolat, Joanne Harris writes a little about the Mexican background of the history of chocolate and the novel’s heroine, Vianne, serves her customers hot drinking chocolate flavoured with chilli. It may seem unusual, but cocoa has also long been used to complement the flavour of meat and is a key ingredient in the Mexican dish ‘Mole Poblano’. Chocolate and chilli are surprisingly good together, the heat of the peppers blending beautifully with the rich dark flavour of cocoa.  The Basque country of South West France, the city of Bayonne in particular, is well known for its fine chocolate and on holiday last year we enjoyed sampling a chilli flavoured variety. The chilli was surprisingly subtle but with a definite hot spicy ‘kick’.

I was delighted to discover this recipe for a spicy marinade for roast lamb which contained chocolate – and it was every bit as delicious as I hoped it would be. I made a few adaptations, using fresh orange in place of orange juice and squeezing some of this juice over the rice to give it a citrus flavour. The recipe would work equally well with some good thick lamb steaks or slow cooked lamb fillet.  The original recipe for Leg of Lamb with Chilli Sauce comes from Hot & Spicy Cooking: Exciting Ideas for Delicious Meals with recipes by Judith Ferguson, Lalita Ahmed and Carolyn Garner.

100_7613 Lamb with Chilli Sauce

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Roast Lamb with Chilli Sauce
(Serves 4)

1kg/2¼lb leg of lamb (or replace with lamb steaks or fillet)
5ml/1tsp cocoa powder
125ml/½tsp Cayenne pepper
125ml/½tsp Ground Cumin
125ml/½tsp Paprika
125ml/½tsp Ground Oregano
140ml/¼pt water
140ml/¼pt orange juice (2/3 oranges depending on size – includes garnish)
140ml/¼pt red wine
1 clove of garlic, crushed
30g/2tbsp brown sugar
15ml/1tbsp cornflour
Pinch of salt
Orange slices and fresh coriander to garnish

1. Trim the paper thin skin and any large pieces of surface fat from the lamb with a sharp knife. Place lamb in a shallow dish.

2. Cut one orange in half and remove a slice or two. Place in a covered container to reserve as a garnish. Squeeze the juice from the remaining pieces of orange and take enough from other oranges to make up to a generous ¼pint.

3. Leaving aside the cornflour, mix at least half of this orange juice with the remaining marinade ingredients. Pour this over the lamb, turning well so it is completely coated. Cover and refrigerate for 12-24 hours, turning occasionally.

4. Drain the lamb and place in a roasting pan. Reserve the marinade. Cook in a pre-heated 190oC/370oF/Gas 5 oven for about 2 hours or until meat is cooked according to taste basting occasionally with the marinade juices.  (If you usually leave the joint to roast while you are out then put most of the juices in the roasting dish and cook on a lower setting, turning the temperature up and basting the joint for a final 10 or 15 minutes before resting and serving the meat.)

5.  Remove lamb to a serving dish to rest and keep warm.  Add any remaining juices or a little water to the pan, stir to loosen the sediment, strain and put aside for a short while.  Skim off any fat that rises to the surface.  

6.  Mix the cornflour with a small amount of water in a sauce pan and then stir in the skimmed, strained marinade juices.   Heat gently, stirring all the time, until thickened. (This can also be done in a jug in the microwave by alternately giving short bursts of heat and stirring until thickened.)  More orange juice, wine or water can be added if necessary. Keep a little orange juice back to stir through the rice, if you would like.

7.  Garnish with the reserved orange slices and sprigs of coriander.  Serve with white boiled rice, stirring through just a little reserved orange juice to give a zesty flavour, the sauce and mildly spiced vegetables curry (so it does not overpower the lamb dish, but including more coriander which complements the citrus flavours).  The original recipe suggests you could also serve this with boiled potato and conventionally cooked vegetables.

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This batter mixture can be used for Yorkshire Puddings, Toad in the Hole, fritters and poured over fruit to make a pudding similar to a clafoutis, but with a crisper finish.  Double the liquid quantities for pancakes.

This is our family recipe.  I usually halve the mixture for just 3/4 people.  My father’s Yorkshire puddings, the recipe learned from his mother, rose so successfully that my mother weighed and wrote down the exact quantities of the ingredients.  Here they are…


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Basic Recipe: Batter Mixture

Yorkshire Puddings
(Serves 7/8)

7ozs plain flour
4ozs milk
4ozs water
2 eggs
pinch of salt

1.  Sieve the flour and salt into a bowl.  Mix the eggs into the liquids. Stir and then whisk very well into the flour until creamy and bubbly.  Leave in the fridge for a minimum of 30mins. 

2.  Heat the oven to high temperature 425oF/220oC.  Pre-heat the tin or tins for the puddings, each containing a small amount of dripping (from the joint if you are having roast beef) or oil. 

3.  When the oil is hot, re-whisk the batter mixture to the same creamy, bubbly consistency.  Remove the tin/tins from the oven, immediately pour the batter into the tins and return the tins to the oven as quickly as possible. Once in the oven the door should not be re-opened until the puddings are cooked or they could collapse. The length of cooking time will depend on the size of pudding, whether one large pudding or individual sized medium or small ones, which cook much quicker. For medium puddings (about 3inches diameter) cooking time is 20-30minutes. 

This basic recipe has been used for the following dishes:
Nottingham Apple Pudding
Sweetcorn Pancake Fritters
Toad in the Hole with Fried Onions

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I love Roast Lamb, but am not a great lover of the mint sauce with which it is traditionally served.  This quick and simple method gives a lovely background hint of orange, as well as the more obvious rosemary flavour. Just be aware that these lovely flavours could be masked by mint sauce! 

This recipe is my own.  I find that I enjoy this even though I am not a lover of meat and fruit combined.  Perhaps because the recipe is not particularly sweet and I like the background citrus flavour. For a more pronounced orange flavour, you can squeeze one of the oranges and use the juice as well, either in the marinade or the gravy (or both).  The joint needs to be defrosted and prepared in advance of roasting (the night before, assuming it is for Sunday lunch next day) otherwise it can be cooked according to normal roasting times.


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Roast Lamb with Orange & Rosemary

A lamb joint of your choice and size to suit number of diners
Zest of 2 oranges (3 if a large joint)
Juice of ½-1 orange (depending on size of joint) – optional
Large sprig of fresh Rosemary, shredded
1-2tbsp Olive oil
Salt and freshly ground black pepper

1.  Defrost the joint and place in a roasting tin on a rack so the fats and juices drip down below the joint.

2.  If using the orange juice, then pour over the joint now. (Or you could add some juice to the gravy later – or as well – if you wish.)

3.  Rub the joint with olive oil.  Sprinkle over orange zest and shredded rosemary, tucking sprigs of Rosemary into any gaps and slits in the meat.  Season.  Leave to marinade overnight or for as long as possible.

4.  Roast according to usual timings for the size of joint.  I tend to put joints of meat in a very low (140oC) oven very low from quite early (just before I leave for church) and raise the temperature when I return, which is often nearly three hours later, removing the lid for the final 15minutes of cooking.

5.  For the gravy separate the meat juices and remove the fat before thickening.  If you wish you can add a little orange juice (or additional orange juice) at this point.

6.  Lamb is lovely served with new potatoes and peas, if both are available, as well as other vegetables of your choice.

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I remember scribbling down the ingredients for this marinade during the 1990s. I had heard someone recommend it on television … or possibly radio (I think it was a well-known personality, but wish I could remember who).  It is such a simple recipe but it does add a wonderful flavour to a roasted joint of pork. Just remember to leave the joint to marinade overnight for Sunday lunch for best results.

It was originally recommended that the chilli powder could be lessened if it was being served to children, but I have never felt the end result too spicy. Ginger that has been stored in the freezer can be grated when slightly defrosted.

100_2332-Australian spiced roast pork

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Australian Spiced Roast Pork

2 tbsp runny honey
2 tbsp Soy sauce
Juice of 1 lemon
1 tsp Chilli powder
1 tbsp crushed/grated root ginger (more if you like!)
1 large crushed clove garlic

Mix the ingredients together and use to marinade any derinded joint of pork, basting occasionally during cooking. The joint should be baked using your usual method and timings. The resulting strained juices make a spicy gravy, but be warned that the flavour could be too intense for some people. If there is a small amount of rind on the joint, leave the lid off the pan so that it makes spicy crackling for those who like it. Be warned that it is normal for the honey content to slightly blacken the finished joint, but it is important to watch that the joint does not burn too much.

Link to collected Marinade Recipes for Pork
All Marinade recipes on this site…

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