I was staying over at the Drayton Court Hotel in West Ealing. Having arrived Sunday evening, I went to the bar to get something to eat. Sunday at the Drayton Court Hotel in West Ealing means that it is Sunday roast day.
I went with the dry-aged sirloin of Owton’s beef. On the plate was two slices of roast beef, roasted parsnip and carrot, roast potatoes, pan fried greens, cauliflower cheese, a huge Yorkshire pudding and served with red wine gravy.
This was probably one the best carvery meals I have ever had from a pub.
The dry-aged sirloin beef was excellent, it was full of flavour and really tender, melt in the mouth tender. I really enjoyed the vegetables too.
I think if I was going to make one criticism, was the temperature was inconsistent across the food, I think part of the issue was dishing up on a cold plate. However the food was delicious and the service was excellent.
M&S sell a pork belly joint seasoned with salt and pepper. We have this quite often, and I use the same technique each time. In a roasting pan I add a bed of cut vegetables. The actual composition does depend on what’s in the fridge. This time I used apple, onion, carrots, a garlic bulb cut in half, and some mushrooms. I drizzled some garlic olive oil as well over the joint.
I start off with a hot (fan) oven, about 200℃ and roast the pork belly for about ten minutes before turning the heat down to 160℃. I usually cook the join for about ninety minutes. The plan is to slow roast the joint to make it tender. A hot fast roast will result in a shorter cooking time, but the meat will be tough and chewy (and probably a little fatty).
I leave the joint to rest for about twenty to thirty minutes, which gives me time to increase the heat in the oven to finish off the roast potatoes and roasted vegetables. I will usually use the roasting pan juices to make some gravy.
I slice the joint into thin slices and serve with roast potatoes and vegetables.
When I do a Sunday roast I do like adding some roasted vegetables on the side. One time I did this I did butternut squash and heritage carrots. This was seasoned with salt, pepper and fresh herbs.
Another thing I do with roasting vegetables is put them at he bottom of the roasting pan. Here for roast belly of pork I have pepper, butternut squash, onions, mushrooms, fresh herbs and as it was pork, some apple.
This helps keep the roast moist and tender, whilst also adding flavour. When you leave the meat to rest, you can finish the vegetables off in the oven, or use it as the base for some gravy.
Back in the summer for an evening meal, we had slow roasted pork belly with potatoes and salad.
The pork belly was from M&S and comes already seasoned. It has no rind, so you don’t get crackling, but slow roasting usually (for me results) in rubbery crackling anyhow. It is a tasty joint and a favourite in our house.
I did small roast potatoes, using Maris Piper potatoes which are par boiled and then roasted in hot oil in the oven. I generally add a little butter towards the end of cooking to add colour and a final crispness.
The salad included a personal favourite of thinly sliced raw cauliflower in a spicy mayonnaise. We first had this eating out at acafe in Wapping Wharf in Bristol. We stole the idea and now have it on a regular basis.
A few years ago Morrisons sold some prepared vegetables, “The Best” Root Vegetable Roasting Selection. This contained baby parsnips, Chantenay carrots and interestingly candy stripe and golden beetroot. This we had on a regular basis, however they’ve stopped doing it, and they still don’t sell the candy stripe and golden beetroots loose. However the farmers market at St Nicks in Bristol on do sell them loose. When I am in Bristol on market’s day I try and get one of each for Sunday lunch. Unlike supermarket veg, these are varied in shape and size and are quite muddy as well.
I usually just cut them into chunks and roast them in the oven. I usually add some chantenay carrots, onions and parsnips to the roasting tray. Maybe also thrown in some garlic and herbs, rosemary works well.
It’s a pity that this method causes the candy stripe beetroot to lose its distinctive look. After watching the chefs on The Great British Menu I have been thinking about pickling them instead, to retain their stripes. The flavour is very much like purple beetroot, but not as strong. These also avoid the staining of the purple ones.
If you can get hold of them they are worth giving them a go.
I blog about what we eat for Christmas lunch, mainly to remember things that worked well and for those that didn’t, not to repeat that mistake. This post is a little later than I planned, but it’s here now.
This year we ordered two Christmas roasts from Tesco. I was a little concerned as the night before the day I was going to collect the order I got a phone call from my local Tesco saying that part of my order had not been delivered to the store and offered a replacement. I wasn’t too happy with this, as it was quite short notice. In the end they had a late night delivery so I got my order in the end.
The main one was a part-boned turkey with chestnut stuffing. This was really nice roasted the chestnut stuffing was really nice too, with who chestnuts within it.
The second was a three bird roast, comprising a duck stuffed with goose and turkey. I remember once spending a lot of money on a Marks and Spencer four bird roast, which though very nice was mainly a big turkey with some duck, goose and chicken. So was a little bit of a disappointment, I blogged about that here, which reminded me not to go down that road again.
Along with the roasts we had roast potatoes, these I cooked in my usual way, which is as follows. I used Maris Piper potatoes, the type of potatoes I find is critical for getting crispy roast potatoes and a fluffy centre. I peel the potatoes and then par-boil for about ten minutes. Whilst they are in the pan of boiling water, I place the roasting tray in a hot oven with some sunflower oil (and I also add a splash of olive oil for flavour). This means once the potatoes are drained they are added to the pan which is pre-heated and has hot oil in. This speeds up cooking time and ensures a crispy roast potato.
I also did my regular dish of brussel sprouts pan fried with chestnut smoked bacon lardons and chestnuts.
I did roasted parsnips. Along with them I did some festive carrots, I followed a Jamie Oliver recipe for carrots. I took a frying pan, this I filled with evenly cut carrots, either whole or halved in the main. I then covered them with boiling water. To this I add a large knob of butter, a splash of white wine vinegar, the juice from two clementines (or similar citrus fruit, or one orange) and some dried mixed herbs. Then let the carrots bubble away on the stove top for about 40 minutes. Once the water has evaporated, the carrots should caramelise in the remaining sweet and sour mix.
We had a selection of stuffings and pigs in blankets.
Overall we were very happy with the meal, it was very tasty.
I usually write a blog post about our Christmas lunch, in the main when it comes to the following year I can remember what worked well and what was less of a success.
A few years ago I spent over a hundred pounds on a four bird roast from Marks and Spencers. It was nice, but was very much a turkey with a little bit of goose, duck and chicken.
The Sainsbury’s version of the four bird roast is a goose stuffed with turkey, duck and guinea fowl. I will say that this is basically a stuffed goose; it’s 62% goose, 9% turkey and there is 8% duck and 8% guinea fowl. Like the Marks and Spencers’ roast it wasn’t cheap, but was half the price of the Marks and Spencers’ version.
This year I would have been tempted to get it again, however Sainsburys weren’t doing it this year. In the end I went with the Aldi Christmas Four Bird Roast again, which we had enjoyed last year.
The Aldi four bird roast was a little skimpy on the goose and duck, but I did expect that for a ten pound roast. It was simple to cook, but I did let it rest for thirty minutes which seemed to help with carving and the meat was very tender and moist.
It was quite tasty, stuffing wasn’t anything to write home about, but I did supplement it with some homemade stuffing, as well as bacon wrapped sausages.
Well the Christmas dinner was a real success this year, really pleased with the end result. I like to write about it so next year I can remember what we had, what we liked and what I should avoid.
We had a fair few extra people around so I cooked two roasts, one was the four bird roast from Aldi (which costs just £10) and a more expensive roast from Morrisons, comprising turkey breast wrapped around a smoked pork tenderloin and then covered in pork crackling.
Both roasts were simple to cook and were both full of flavour. Turkey can often be dry, but I managed to avoid that, but that was probably much more down to the style of the roast, it wasn’t a whole bird.
The Aldi four bird roast was a little skimpy on the goose and duck, but I did expect that for a £10 roast. The stuffing was okay, but was slightly overpowering and could probably have down with less herbs.
Alongside the main dish I served a range of vegetables, including a brussel sprouts with chestnuts and pancetta. Timing I find is quite critical with this kind of meal, so I had done a fair bit of preparation in advance, so things went smoothly. For example I had made and prepared my stuffing the night before, I had already trayed up the pigs in blankets and cocktail sausages.
Overall the meal was a success and enjoyed by all.