The Great British Roast Dinner
I love Sundays although they are far from the day of rest.
I love nothing more than cracking open a bottle of red wine and knocking it back whilst I rustle up the Sunday dinner. Back-to-back episodes of Four in a Bed on the telly. The kids out with their dad in a park somewhere. Just me, a big glass of Rioja in one hand, and the potato peeler in the other whilst watching three couples compete over the size and texture of their sausages and bicker over the amount of dust on each other’s skirting boards.
My beef with eating out on Sundays
I could of course swerve the hours of preparation, cooking, dishwasher loading and unloading and all the other hassle that cooking a roast dinner brings with it. Truth is, there’s just not many establishments, even in Yorkshire, that impress me when it comes to a Sunday roast.
And quite frankly, I begrudge paying fifteen quid for a couple of slices of greying beef that left the oven several hours ago and have since been covered in lukewarm Yak’s piss gravy by someone who seems to think they know how much gravy I like and where I like it.
It infuriates me that I never get anywhere near enough roast potatoes and it gets my goat when my Yorkshire pudding is more often than not, sat on top of the gravy. I want my gravy in it, not under it.
Do not mention the ‘C’ word
Call me a snob (plenty do). I categorically do not want to spend my afternoon in a Toby Carvery thank you very much. I don’t want to be queuing to serve and my children (which requires a whole separate set of balancing skills) food from underneath a heat lamp on a Sunday. Or any day for that matter.
I certainly do not want to be drinking Chein Blanc that has been dispensed from a tap at the bar. I don’t care how many roast potatoes I am entitled to or that I have control over where my gravy goes. I won’t do it.
Surely there is some middle ground?
I want a decent pub to serve my Sunday roast ‘family style’ (Google it). I want a huge boat of steaming, thick meaty gravy on the side. I want a half-decent wine list by the glass if I’m on driving duty. I shouldn’t have to buy the entire bottle just because my palette stretches beyond a stumpy wine glass of New World Cab Sauv. Childminding facilities would be a nice optional extra. Because let’s face it, keeping the kids under control is another commonly associated ball-ache with going out for Sunday lunch.
Of course we could shove them in front of their Amazon tablets, but quite frankly, I’d prefer to watch mine racing round the house rather than immersing themselves in some digital third world whilst chewing on chips in a pub.
Much more than a meal
Anyway, Sunday lunch is much more than a meal. It’s a longstanding British tradition that can only be done properly in the home. Whether that be mine or someone else’s.
It’s about getting together with friends and family. It’s about everyone taking part in the creation of something delicious. It’s about a house full of screeching kids racing round whilst the ladies gather by my breakfast bar putting the world to rights. Keeping my glass topped up. It’s about the men of the family ‘popping’ down to the pub to catch the ‘first half’ on the condition that they are back, on time, to carve.
From the farm to your fork
We love nothing more than popping down to Otley’s Farmer’s Market on the last Sunday of every month. The kids get very excited about picking out the veg from the fruit and veg stall. It’s the little things.
Stilled caked in mud from where they’ve been pulled from local Yorkshire earth, these vegetables are as fresh as you’ll get (short of growing your own) and taste 10 times better than the pre-packed, pesticide-covered shite shipped in from god knows where available in the supermarkets.
We also bagged a kilo of Yorkshire Beef, six fresh eggs for the Yorkshire puds, mature cheddar cheese for the cauliflower cheese and a shed load of fresh, organic veg. It all came in at under £20 – that’s £4 a head.
It makes my Yorkshire blood boil when people claim that it’s too expensive to eat well, and to eat organic. Course it’s expensive if you are buying organic from the supermarkets. It’s a totally different kind of organic. Get down to your local farmers market and I promise you, you’ll have an epiphany. Even if it’s once a month. Do it.
The ultimate Yorkshire Roast Beef
- A decent 1kg joint of beef (served about 5-6)
- 2 unpeeled carrots
- 1 onion
- A handful of fresh herbs
- 1 garlic bulb
- Olive oil
- Salt & pepper
- Turn your oven on as high as it will go and give it a good 10 minutes to heat right up.
- Roughly chop the carrots (no need to peel) and the onion and throw them in a roasting tin along with the unpeeled garlic cloves. Form a little pile with the veg and garlic in the middle of the tin and throw on the fresh herbs.
- Rub the beef with olive oil and salt and pepper and stick it on top of the pile of carrots and onions etc.
- Stick it in the middle of the over and turn the oven down to 200c. (Do not cover it).
- Cook for 1hr, basting the beef half way through.
- Remove from the oven and leave to rest for 45 mins before serving.
- Meanwhile get your spuds in.
- Keep the veg and juices to one side for your gravy.
Top tips for:
The ultimate crispy roast potatoes:
Use decent spuds and don’t chop them too small.
Par boil the but not too much or they will crumble. Then stick them in a hot roasting tin – put the roasting tin in the oven with a couple of big glugs of olive oil ten minutes before so the oil is spitting.
After half an hour remove them from the oven and give them a bash with a masher just to break the skins a bit. Pop them back in the oven and cook for a further 15 mins.
Winning at Yorkshire puds
Use decent eggs. Beat the batter until you see air bubbles. Use a wooden spoon to beat it. Put the bowl to one side and cover it with a tea towel. Leave it for 15 mins. You don’t need me to tell you that your oven has to be as hot as you can get it. The oil in the Yorkshire tray has to be spitting before you stick the batter in.
Serve your beef with:
Recommendations for great places in Yorkshire to enjoy a decent Sunday lunch greatly received.