Tips for a Winner Winner Chicken (Lamb, Beef, Pork or Vegetarian) Roast Dinner!!!

My week started off with a bang! On Monday I had a new blog experience and for the first time escaped the comfort of my well-moulded blogging sofa seat (usually with repeats of Come Dine with Me on in the background) to meet with fellow bloggers at Roast Restaurant in Borough Market. It was a really fun night (organised by UK Blog Relations), and great to meet other like-minded and inspiring lovers of sharing their ideas, knowledge, experiences and stories with the World. We were well-and-truly looked after by Roast too; our wine glasses were kept topped up and our bellies full of delicious canapés. I did however suffer the slight embarrassment of being in the losing quiz team, and being the only “Food Blogger” within it, the pressure was on me to know all the answers, which of course I didn’t! So one key thing I took away from the event was that I clearly enjoy cooking and eating food more then learning about it (anyone know of a good food school out there?!)

So from my shining start, the week has tumbled downhill… starting with a 6am alarm the next day and a rather fuzzy head that could only be cured by eating cheesy sausage rolls and cake (queue the junk food guilt). I was then too tired to even think about writing a blog post and this morning I thought it was Thursday (oh well, at least I have the happy memories, SIGHHH)!

So with all that in mind, I wanted to theme todays post around my experiences. I was thinking for ages about how I could relate some of my existing, unpublished recipes to it, but I don’t currently have any canapé or hangover dishes up my sleeve and so the theme then became obvious, make it about roasts!! And boy have I cooked a lot of those!!!

A roast dinner is hands-down, my favourite thing to cook. There is nothing I love more than a Sunday afternoon in the kitchen, with a spoon and a glass (or sometimes bottle) of wine preparing a masterpiece! I do however know, that for some people, this can be a pretty daunting experience, especially if you are feeding guests and have to have everything completed and ready for a certain time. So if you are more of the latter, then here are my key tips to guaranteed success in your roast kitchen…..

  • Planning – It pays-off to have a plan. I decide the time that I want to serve and then work backwards. But generally I find the below work pretty well (just to mention to Delia Smith has taught me to cook roast dinners, so most of these timings are hers!):
    • Roast Beef – 20 minutes at 220’C, and then 15 minutes per 450g at 180’C
    • Roast Chicken – 20 minutes per 450g +15 at 180’C (I cover my chicken for the first hour and then take the foil off for the remainder). Give it a poke to check if the juices run clear, and if they do its done.
    • Roast Pork (leg or loin) – 20 minutes in a 245’C oven then 35 minutes per 450g.
    • Roast Lamb (whole leg) – Wrap in foil, 180’C oven for 2 hours – unwrap final 30.
    • Roast potatoes – 1 hour for crispies, plus pre-boiling
    • Yorkshire puddings – 25 minutes (hot oven), plus time to heat the oil
    • Stuffing – 30–40 minutes (plus pre-prep)
    • Cauliflower cheese – 30-40 minutes (plus pre-prep)
    • Gravy – 15 minutes made with the meat juices
    • Fresh vegetables – Steamed 3-7 minutes, depending on what you are having
  • Get prepping in advance – your Yorkshire batter, stuffing, cauliflower cheese and veg prep can all be made in advance, even the day before, and kept in the fridge so don’t leave it all to the last minute!
  • Bring your meat out of the fridge half an hour before cooking to bring it to room temperature and help it cook more evenly.
  • Always rest your meat before serving – I usually rest mine for 15 minutes.
  • Pre-boil your roast potatoes, strain and then return to the heat, giving them a good shake to make them fluffy – this gives you the best crispy bits!
  • If you’re making stuffing then choose flavours that work well with the meat and then mix with egg and fresh breadcrumbs and you can’t go wrong. For example:
    • Beef – Chestnut mushroom, sausage meat rosemary and wholegrain mustard.
    • Chicken – Bacon, leek and thyme
    • Pork – Sage, onion and chestnuts
    • Lamb – Herbs, garlic, apricot and toasted pine nuts.
  • Booze works great in gravy, white wine with the whiter meats and red wine or port with your red meats. Just bring to the boil, reduce and stir together with the meat juices and either pre-mixed gravy or good quality stock with a flour paste.
  • Pour yourself a glass of wine and put on your favourite tunes – cooking is always more fun if you’re dancing!!!

So now you know how to manage it all you’ve got to do is cook it! For inspiration please check out my recipes below – and feel free to share any of your own by the ‘submit a recipe’ link!… Happy Roasting!!!

The Meat

Vegi Alternative

The All-Important Sides

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