“Sundays…Sleep until you’re hungry then eat until you’re sleepy”
I absolutely adore Sundays!
Whether you’re lounging with a cup of coffee (tea if you happen to be English) and your favourite book, binge watching your guilty pleasure show on Netflix (ahem.. Santa Clarita Diet) or nursing a wicked hangover from a Saturday night that you can’t quite remember, one thing is for sure: Sunday is synonymous with laziness, comfort, and of course food – more specifically, roast.
I didn’t really appreciate the magic of Sunday roast until I moved to England.
Here it’s taken seriously, with restaurants severely judged on the quality of their roasts and their crisp to fluffy roast potato ratio. And why shouldn’t it be a serious affair, it was invented here after all, during the reign of King Henry VII when his guards would dine on roast beef after Sunday’s church service (Beefeaters anyone?)
Nowadays roast isn’t just for Sunday and it isn’t just beef (lamb, poultry and pork are all popular choices) but today I’m going to keep things traditional, or rather as traditional as a Romanian-Canadian living in England can make it and share with you my version of this all powerful culinary statement.
First thing’s first – the Gravy.
My love of gravy is serious… I would (have on more than one occasion) drink it straight from the jug if it was socially acceptable.
Normally, gravy is made using the juices that your meat gives off during its stint in the oven. However, I make a Dijon mustard crust for my beef – just wait and see, it’s out of this world – and it never gives enough liquid to make the required quantity of Sunday gravy.
Instead, I roast a separate chunk of beef with some aromatics (aka carrots, celery, onions, garlic) and herbs and use the reduced stock as the base of my gravy.
*Just a note here, you’ll be reducing this lovely liquid by half which means you’re intensifying the flavours so please use a wine good enough to drink and good quality beef stock (click here for a homemade recipe.)
Toss everything in a roasting tray, an oven proof dish, or even a deep skillet and forget about it..for about 1.5 hours until the liquid reduces.
Now to marinade the roast…
Only 5 ingredients are used to make a fingerlicking tangy and savory marinade.
You need extra virgin olive oil (and if you were wondering, this is why it’s called extra virgin https://www.oliveoiltimes.com/extra-virgin-olive-oil), Dijon mustard (English mustard works just as well for you mustard purists), fresh thyme, garlic and salt.
Finely chop up the garlic and thyme, add the mustard and slowly pour in the olive oil. You want a thick paste.
Smear that bad boy on your beef (there’s a joke in there somewhere) and let it rest out of the fridge! (Cold meat doesn’t brown as quickly and no it’s not a food safety issue – you’re only leaving it out for 45 minutes or so).
Look at that deliciously smeared beef!
Now pop that hunk into the oven for 1 hour! (Just one hour if you want it medium rare and you do want it medium rare right?!).
You know what would be a good idea now? Getting all your veg ready! If you’re having roasted potatoes, make sure you throw them in the oven 20 minutes before the roast is done, they’ll continue to cook while the meat is resting.
If you’re making cauliflower cheese, get your roux going – that’s flour and fat in equal measure, cooked out with the slow addition of milk, add copious amounts of cheese (I think I’ll do a whole blog post on my love of cheese). Toss over blanched cauliflower and throw in a baking dish. Pop it in the oven when the roast comes out and bake until golden, bubbly and delicious.
When your 1 hour timer goes off, remove the roast from the oven, cover it with foil and forget about it until you finish the rest of the meal… (You didn’t honestly think I forgot about those lovely gravy juices we made did you?)
Please DO NOT skip the resting phase – sorry for yelling – but it’s THAT important!
Resting your meat (get your head out of the gutter) is so important for a juicy, tender piece of beef! If chewing is your thing then by all means skip this step.
Now while your meat is chilling out finish your gravy. I do it the Louisiana way… by that I mean that I make a roux but I cook it out until it’s a dark caramel colour – then slowly add the reduced juices we made, remember with the hunk of beef and aromatics? Whisk until the gravy is your desired thickness and remove from heat.
Now the moment of truth…get a sharp knife and slice that roast….
Take a moment and admire the beauty of the quintessential Sunday roast.
For the Gravy:
- 300g beef, chunks (I usually use a rump steak)
- 2 red onions, halved
- 4 carrots, sliced in quarters
- 2 stick celery, halved
- 4 cloves garlic, smashed
- 1/2 lemon, quartered
- 1 sprig of fresh rosemary
- 1 tsp seasoning salt (or just salt and pepper)
- 250 ml good red wine
- 900 ml beef stock
- 4 Tbsp butter
- 4 Tbsp flour
Combine all ingredients except butter and flour and roast at 400°F (≈200°C) for 1.5 hours, until the liquid is reduced by half and concentrated in flavour. Discard the veggies and meat.
Melt butter in a medium sized pot, whisk in the flour and cook until the roux turns a dark caramel colour. Be careful it goes from a nice caramel colour to burnt very quickly. Once it’s dark, whisk in your reserved liquid, making sure there are no lumps.
Keep on a low heat, whisking occasionally, until the roast is ready.
For the roast:
- 5 cloves garlic, finely chopped
- 4-6 sprigs of fresh thyme, finely chopped
- 1 Tbsp dijon (or English) mustard
- 1/3 cup of extra virgin olive oil
- salt and pepper
- 1.5 kg roasting beef joint
Remove roast from packaging and pat dry with paper towels.
Combine garlic, thyme, mustard in a bowl and slowly add the oil until the mixture is emulsified and looks like a paste. Add salt and pepper and mix thoroughly.
Smear marinade over roast and allow to sit at room temperature for 30-45 mins.
Cook in a preheated oven at 400°F (≈200°C) for 1 hour.
Remove from oven, cover and let rest for 20 mins.
Carve roast, and serve with the homemade gravy and any accompanying sides.