5 Essentials for a Charlie Irons Sunday Roast
We’re finally in February – the last full month of winter. While the weather remains cold, Charlie and I still love to have a roast most Sundays. They’re just so cosy and satisfying, and there is a lot of variety in terms of what you can make for your roast each week. So, here it is; the much anticipated blog post revealing all of Charlie’s secrets for the perfect Sunday roast!
1 – High-quality organic vegetables
Whether you’re a meat-eater or not, your vegetables should be a key part of your roast dinner. Lots of people are happy to treat themselves to a high quality piece of meat for a roast, but will then skimp on the vegetables, as they don’t realise how much extra flavour fresh organic vegetables have over the cheap supermarket ones. Of course, the best tasting vegetables are the homegrown ones that have been plucked from the earth that very day, but if you haven’t grown your own, the next best thing can be purchased from a local farm shop.
There are so many options when it comes to your vegetable side dishes, but one that we often have is cauliflower and broccoli cheese. We roast our cauliflower and broccoli in the oven, drizzled with olive oil and sea salt, and then pour over a homemade cheese sauce. Choose whatever cheese you find most delicious; a gruyere or an aged cheddar are two of our favourites for a cheese sauce!
To balance the rich creaminess of the cauliflower cheese, it’s always a good idea to have a roasted vegetable side dish that’s not so… covered in cheese. We often go for honey glazed heritage carrots – this is a super simple dish that requires little hands on time. Simply toss your carrots in a mixture of honey, mustard, olive oil and sea salt; add a small bunch of fresh herbs such as thyme to the dish, and roast for a good 35 minutes or so.
2 – Local high-welfare meat
When you’re planning your Sunday roast, you could pop into your local butchers and ask what they recommend, if you’re unsure what to go for meat-wise. A slow roasted pork shoulder topped with delicious crackling is a favourite of ours, as is a large beef sirloin. This is a more premium choice, and can be swapped for beef topside if you’re on more of a budget.
Don’t overlook the humble roast chicken – if you buy a high quality option it can be a truly delicious and juicy choice. Just be sure to add lots of garlic and herbs to your chicken to make it extra yummy.
3 – Crispy roast potatoes
The first thing to ensure when it comes to roast potatoes, is that you’re using the right variety of potato. To get the best roasties, you’re looking for a floury potato, such as a King Edward or a Maris Piper, rather than a waxy potato.
Everyone has their technique when it comes to roast potatoes, and there is no single ‘correct’ way to do them. In my opinion, the method we use creates maximum deliciousness, without being overly fiddly.
Peel and quarter your potatoes, then boil them until they are just starting soften. Meanwhile, heat a pan of extra virgin olive oil in the oven. Allow your boiled potatoes to steam dry for a bit, then toss them in the colander to rough them up a bit. Tip your potatoes straight into the hot oil and then put them into the oven for a good 60-90 minutes. Be sure to turn the potatoes periodically, and add some rosemary and smashed garlic cloves around 10 minutes before the end – so that they don’t get burnt.
4 – Fresh herbs
Fresh herbs are an absolute essential when it comes to a roast dinner. Herbs are a super easy thing to grow whether you have a garden or only a sunny windowsill. You could have little terracotta pots of herbs dotted around your kitchen, making it super easy to grab a handful when you’re in the middle of cooking. The main two herbs when cooking a roast tend to be rosemary and thyme, however you can mix things up by roasting your chicken with tarragon, or making a fresh mint sauce to go with lamb.
5 – Homemade gravy
Gravy is a key part of a roast which some people overlook. Gone are the days where we dissolve gravy granules in boiling water and call that a gravy. To take things to the next level, you’ve got to make your own stock. This is easier than it sounds when making a roast as you can simply collect the roasting juices from your meat to form the base of your gravy.
Firstly, gather together your staple gravy vegetables such as onions or shallots, garlic, carrots and celery. Place them in a large roasting tray mixed with your handful of fresh herbs. Drizzle the mixture with some extra virgin olive oil, sea salt flakes and freshly ground black pepper. Then all you’ve got to do is place your meat of choice on top, leave it to roast, and then collect the juices at the end.
While your meat is resting after it comes out of the oven, you can finish making your gravy; melt a good knob of butter in a saucepan, add a heaped tablespoon of flour and allow to cook on a low heat for a few minutes. Then slowly add your cooking juices bit by bit until you have the desired gravy consistency. Season to taste before serving.
If you’ve got plenty of time, you could even make another sauce to serve alongside your roast, such as a cranberry sauce, horseradish sauce or bread sauce depending on what meat you’re having. If you’re running low on time, none of your guests will mind if you’ve grabbed a jar or two from a local farm shop!