Friday, July 16, 2004

Sunday Roast

There was a time in my life when the traditional Sunday Roast was a weekly event.  Looking back, I'm not sure it that's really correct - but I certainly remember my mother in the kitchen on many a Sunday, preparing the roast, then turning its juices into either Yorkshire Pudding or gravy. 

Then there are the times at my Nana's, when the Sunday Roast was left sizzling behind one of the many doors in the old slow combustion stove, while we were waltzed off to service at the Salvation Army Hall of Worship.  Upon our return to the house, we were always welcomed by the warm smell of roasting beef wafting down the hallway, carrying us into the kitchen, causing our mouths to salivate. 
 
When I gave up vegetarianism a couple of years back, it was a few months before I was able to face eating beef again.  Eventually I found myself craving the Sunday Roast of my childhood.  I went to the local butcher, procured the best piece of beef I could afford, and invited my mother and her brood to lunch.  The smell of the beef in the oven was intoxicating!  The dog was glued to the spot in front of the oven.  My mother became inexplicably animated in the kitchen, and my step-father, waiting (in front of the TV) in the loungeroom, kept calling out "Is it ready yet?". 
 
But the best thing of all was watching my little brother, who always argues about finishing his food, gobble down every single thing on his plate, then wipe up the gravy with his fingers, not wanting to leave anything behind.  When they went home, Mum said he raved about that lunch for days afterwards - he reckoned it was good tucker!
 
Here then, is my recipe for Sunday Roast, complete with roasted veggies.  Of course I served it all with Beef Jus, freshly mounted in butter, with a fair bit of the pans juices add for additional effect. 

 
Ingredients
1 1.5kg piece of roasting beef - choose whatever is best at the butcher's on the day
olive oil
salt and pepper
5 small washed potatoes (or one for each guest)
10 pieces of Jap pumpkin, skinned
5 small onions, peeled
olive oil
1-2 cups frozen baby peas
 
1. Pre heat the oven to 220 degrees celcius.
 
2. Coat a roasting pan with olive oil and position beef in centre of tray.  Season with salt and pepper to taste.  (Note - you can add all sorts of fresh herbs and other things at this stage to add to the falvour, but I don't think it's THAT necessary.  The only thing I'd really be tempted to add is garlic - peeled, cut in half and wiped over the exterior of the beef).
 
3. Place pan on middle shelf in oven and roast for half an hour.  Turn oven temperature down to 180 degrees celcius.  Remove pan then add potatoes, pumpkin and onions, positioning around beef.  Drizzle with extra olive oil and return to oven for a further 60-90 minutes.  When cooked, remove beef from roasting pan and allow to rest on a serving plate for 15 minutes before carving.
 
4. Your vegetables may be ready before the beef is - just keep an eye on them.  Of course the potatoes should be golden brown and soft in the middle when tested with a skewer.  The pumpkin should be tending towards a caramelly black - I like my pumpkin burnt, but that's not everybody's taste!  The onions will shrivel and also caramelise - when the vegetables are roasted to your own satisfaction, take them out of the oven and set them aside, allowing the beef to continue to cook if needed. 

5. Place the peas in top of a steamer and cook for three minutes.  You could use fresh peas, shelling them yourself.  However, frozen peas are not a sin!  My childhood Sunday Roasts were served with Surprise Peas, and we regarded those as a special treat!
 
5. Carve your beef using a carving fork and a very sharp carving knfe - this will allow you to slice the beef sparingly (there has to be leftovers for Monday's roast beef sandwich!).  Arrange everything on a dinner plate, making the beef the focal point.  Drizzle with Beef Jus (see Beef Jus recipe in previous posts) and serve to your salivating guests.
 
Note: there is a general rule of thumb for how long to cook a piece of beef (15 minutes per half kilo), however, I say cook it until it's done!  Use your sense of smell to guide your intuition (yes - cooking is intuitive!).  But also get yourself a metal skewer - when the beef has roasted for a total of 90 minutes, insert the skewer into the middle of the beef and check the juices as they run out.  If they are clear, your piece of beef is cooked.  If not, continue roasting until the juices do eventually run clear when re-tested.  

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