Cooking up a Sunday roast dinner with all the trimmings can appear daunting due to all the timings involved.
Roast dinner is without a doubt my favourite meal ever, and I have cooked dozens – including a few big Christmas Day dinners for all of my family.
I’m not sure which is my favourite meat. I suppose beef is as close to a winner that I can think of, but I’m equally partial to a beautiful roast chicken, a succulent roast pork joint featuring crispy crackling and then there’s slow-cooked lamb leg. My mouth is watering already!
What I adore about roast dinner is that it appeals to all of the family. My kids love the veggies and roast potatoes, so I feel great for feeding them a balanced meal.
With Easter Sunday coming up I thought I would share with you all my secret to a perfect roast dinner every time.
As a bonus to help you nail the Sunday roast every time, I’ve got free printables for you featuring a timetable make your Easter Sunday lunch, or any roast dinner, go off without a hitch plus a list for you to fill out so you never endure a burnt roast again! Simply subscribe to my mailing list by filling out the form at the end of this post.
First thing’s first, you need to get your meat ready. Of course the length of time this will cook for depends on what meat you have chosen.
I like my beef rare, so for a joint that serves five to six people I tend to only roast it in the oven for around 45 to 50 minutes.
When it comes to lamb, I like to get some fresh rosemary, pick the leaves off the stalks and rub it all over the lamb with some olive oil (yes your hands will be greasy but it flavours the meat so perfectly).
The alternative is to get a sharp knife and create some holes all over the top of the lamb leg. You can then insert small sprigs of lamb with four to six leaves on into each hole.
With chicken I tend to simply season and follow the instructions on the packet, though it can be nice to add some fresh herbs of your choice into the body cavity. I like thyme the best with chicken.
Pork has to have crackling on top! To get the perfect crispy crackling, I dry the skin with a paper towel, then season with plenty of salt. I whack the oven right up to its hottest temperature and roast the joint at this high heat for the first 20 minutes of cooking.
I then turn the temperature down to 170C for the remainder of the cooking time as specified on the packet.
I don’t tend to use much salt – if any at all – as my kids eat the roast dinner too and I’m trying to limit it in their diet wherever I can. I only tend to season the pork joints, and rely on the herbs to bring flavour out of the other joints of meat.
Once you’ve got your meat in the go, it’s now time to think about the roast potatoes.
The trick to crispy roasties every single time is using duck or goose fat. You can get it in jars in the chilled section of the supermarket. It keeps for around a month after opening and is really worth using instead of oil.
I get the fat on a tray in the oven to heat up before getting my potatoes on to parboil them.
I put my roast potatoes into cold water in a pan after peeling and chopping them to the size I want. I then bring the pan to the boil and boil them for 10 minutes.
After draining the potatoes I put them back into the now dry pan and give them a shake. This helps roughen up the outside of the potato, which can produce those nice crispy bits that make everyone rave about roasties!
I then get the roasties into the roasting tray (be careful because they will spit in the oil) and push them around a bit to get the fat on every potato.
I then roast them for about an hour, though it can be less time. Check on them after 30 minutes to see how they are doing and turn them.
My favourite roast dinner veg are carrots, broccoli, cauliflower, spinach and peas. These are brilliant because they’re so quick to cook. You can zap them in the microwave for a few minutes, or you can simmer on the hob for seven to eight minutes. With the spinach, I prefer to gently wilt it in lots of butter, which only takes about four minutes.
However I’m also really partial to parsnips. I tend to put a generous squidge of honey on them after peeling and chopping them and then roast them for around 30 minutes in the oven.
Jamie Oliver does a brilliant get-ahead gravy recipe which you can do a few weeks in advance and freeze. It’s made from chicken wings and fresh vegetables and I’ve used it for a couple of Christmases. It’s absolutely amazing and I would thoroughly recommend giving it a try.
If not Bisto gets my vote! Quick and easy, music to my ears!
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