Traditional recipes

Revamping the British roast

Revamping the British roast

The great British roast is a meal enjoyed by millions, and whilst the classic version will always have its place, one of the best things about it is the endless possibility for variation.

As the lighter, brighter recipes in this month’s Jamie magazine reflect, being a little more experimental when it comes to Sunday lunch can help to drag this dish from the realm of unchanging tradition and bring it bang up to date, celebrating the diverse global food culture we’re lucky enough to be a part of.

Now that warmer weather is (hopefully!) on the horizon, it’s the perfect time to liven up our roasts, too – and the recipe feature by food writer Alice Hart in Jamie magazine’s March issue is an ideal source of inspiration.

Traditionally, sharing a roast at the end of the week is linked to Catholic and Anglican beliefs that relate to abstaining from all meat but fish on a Friday, then breaking this fast on a Sunday. However, as the magnificent recipe for salt-baked trout in Jamie magazine proves, these days a whole fish is a perfectly worthy centrepiece itself. The salt crust helps to retain moisture, making for the most amazing melt-in-your-mouth texture. It works a treat with the almond and broad bean salad that goes alongside, which injects a real lightness into the dish – great for an Easter celebration.

Yorkshire families were thought to be the first to cook a joint slowly in the oven in time for their return from church at Sunday lunchtime. What has subsequently become a deep-seated tradition of eating roast beef on a Sunday has even led to the French mockingly coining the nickname ‘rosbifs’ for the British. For the recipe in the current issue of Jamie magazine, we’re livening things up thanks to inspiration from another beef eating nation, Argentina – serving a wing of beef with their classic chimichurri sauce. A punchy blend of spring onion, oregano, parsley and lemon juice, it’s the perfect foil for beef – combined with some charred spring veg, this is a world away from the heavy traditional roasts usually associated with us ‘rosbifs’.

To be fair, however, a lot has changed since the roast dinner originated in medieval times, when serfs would share a spit-roast oxen on a Sunday in the fields where they’d been practicing battle. The influence of food cultures all over the world and accessibility of different ingredients means it’s never been so easy to mix it up with spices. Try rubbing chicken with jerk seasoning for a Caribbean twist, or using Moroccan-inspired flavours such as cumin, lemon and oregano roasted with chickpeas, as in the delicious recipe in this month’s Jamie magazine.

Where does this long-standing tradition of roasting meat leave vegetarians? For too long, the roast dinner has been the preserve of meat-eaters, with only disappointing nut-roasts and below-par veggie gravy offered as a substitute. However, it is absolutely possible to make a vegetarian roast match up to the traditional version. We find the key is to really show the vegetables some love and combine them with really aromatic, intense flavours. We think these Roast mejadra onions from the latest issue of Jamie magazine are the ultimate Middle-Eastern comfort food and vegetarian roast recipe, and we’re so excited to share the method with you. Stuffed with a tangle of caramelised onions, gently spiced lentils and fragrant herbs, they’re roasted until achingly sweet.

Without meat to steal the limelight, you can go bonkers with the side dishes too – try a sumptuous cauliflower cheese, loads of lemony greens or some earthy roasted beetroot.

For many, of us, Sunday dinner brings back fond memories of happy, belly-filling meals to end the weekend – it’s licking your lips at the smell of roast chicken, passing round a steaming jug of gravy, and fighting over the crispiest roast potatoes. This is a magic that it would be a shame to lose, but fewer families are finding the time to sit down together during increasingly chaotic working weeks. Breathing a bit of fresh air into the roast could be just thing to keep this great British tradition alive, and the arrival of spring is the perfect excuse to try out some new flavours and techniques.

Thanks to the lighter, brighter recipes in this month’s Jamie magazine, there’s never been a better time to reinvent your roast.

British Roast Potatoes – Roasties

British Roast potatoes is a bespoke, English way of making the crispiest &lsquoroasties&rsquo. A perfectly browned and fabulously crispy outside leads to a soft and fluffy center. Just like mum used to make and probably still does.

If you were raised in the U.K. (and ate a Sunday roast or British Christmas dinner) you most likely were raised on these. Read on and found out why they are so popular.

There&rsquos a British way of roasting potatoes? There sure is, and we take it very seriously, here&rsquos why. Sunday lunch/dinner is the most looked-forward to meal of the week (see my Roast Beef Dinner/Sunday Roast for all the details) and the potatoes are an important component. These and the gravy are typically everyone&rsquos favorite part of the meal.

The two important steps in achieving the best result, is to pre-boil the potatoes. After they are tender, you get rough with them by shaking them about the colander after draining. They are then allowed to dry-out slightly. The rough edges and the dried surface allows the edges crisp up in the oven.

Once they have &lsquodried&rsquo, they are added to hot oil that has preheated in a pan in the oven. Pretty much like when you make British Yorkshire Pudding.

The potatoes are essentially shallow frying in a layer of oil/fat. There are recipes out there that recommend a fancy animal-based oil or fat like duck or goose fat to be used, but who has easy access to these? I don&rsquot, so that I why I like to use a light, flavorless oil like vegetable, canola, rapeseed. Lard is also an option.

They need to be turned periodically so they crisp on all sides. Once they are browned, they are finished with a light sprinkling of salt. And that is all there is to achieving the crispiest roasted potatoes.

Can you make roast potatoes with sweet potatoes or yams? Yes, they crisp up very well too and they are deliciously sweet. See the picture below.

The Best Roast Chicken - Easy

Roast chicken makes a popular alternative in the Sunday roasts because it is a much lighter, healthier meat with a lower fat content than red meats and has another advantage most of this fat is monounsaturated.

Roast chicken is very popular in the summer months when the weather (may) often be warmer so traditional roasts are not as popular.

Roast Beef Dinner (Sunday Roast)

Roast Beef Dinner (Sunday Roast) is a long time British tradition and the meal that every Brit looks forward to all week.

Perfectly roasted beef served with crispy roast potatoes (roasties), carrots and Yorkshire pudding.

It&rsquos actually Sunday lunch rather than Sunday dinner

Sunday is the day we eat our big Sunday dinner typically the middle of the day , lunchtime (dinner being lunch where I come from in the North of England, not confusing at all). But for the sake of the title, I called it roast beef dinner.

Sunday is also family day and that is when we would all gather around the table for a roast.

The side dishes: Yorkshire Pudding and roasted potatoes (< click links for recipes) are a must. The vegetable is entirely up to you. I like roasted carrots but broccoli, peas or any of your favorite vegetable can be served. Don&rsquot forget the gravy! It&rsquos made in the pan that the beef is roasted in.

Growing up, my mum would make a roast that would vary week to week from roast lamb, or beef or pork. Sundays were my favorite. Mum would put on a Nat King Cole record (yes a vinyl record) and we would get busy in the kitchen.

I remember at a young age, my job was either stirring the gravy, or going to the garden for the fresh mint for the mint sauce when we had roast lamb.

Yorkshire Pudding

If you like horseradish sauce with your roast beef, I have a delicious homemade recipe for Horseradish Sauce (see below).

There are a few key tips when roasting beef. Letting the beef sit at room temperature before roasting ensures a more tender meat. I like to sear the beef on all sides before putting it in the oven to get a nice browning on the outside.

Preheat the oven to 200C/400F/Gas 6.

Place the chicken, breast up, in a deep roasting tin. Massage the softened butter all over the chicken breasts, legs and sides.

Tuck the half of the garlic into the chicken cavity and sprinkle all over with sea salt

Toss the remaining garlic into the roasting tin and place into the preheated oven and cook for 1 hr 30 minutes.

Remove the chicken from the tin and wrap tightly in aluminum foil and leave the bird to rest for 15 minutes.

Put the roasting tin over medium heat on the stovetop and bring the chicken juices up to a gentle simmer. Slowly raise the heat to high and add the white wine.

Stir the wine and juices thoroughly with a wooden spoon and simmer for 5 minutes. Add the chicken or vegetable stock, stir again, lower the heat and simmer until reduced by one-third.

Unwrap the chicken and add any juices released by the chicken into the sauce and bring back to the boil. Remove the sauce from the heat and strain through a fine sieve into a warmed gravy boat or jug.

Put the chicken onto a carving platter, surround with roasted vegetables. Serve the chicken immediately with the sauce on the side.

To ring the changes on this simple (and delicious) roast chicken, try an alternative a lemon roast chicken and don't forget to save the chicken carcass to make chicken stock, or a soup.

Jamie Oliver's roast beef: the recipe

This recipe is adapted from Jamie’s Ministry of Food by Jamie Oliver and includes directions for when to prepare roast vegetables, gravy, and other additions to the perfect roast dinner while your beef is cooking. You can also find it on his website, along with other top chef recipes and tips from chefs, or watch a video of him preparing the roast beef by clicking here.

The roast fillet of beef from Jamie Oliver serves approximately 6 people and should take you just over an hour to cook, plus some additional time for cooling.


1 bunch of mixed fresh herbs (such as thyme, rosemary, bay, sage)


Step one

Ensure the beef is at room temperature. You can do this by removing it from the fridge 30 minutes before you want to cook it.

Preheat the oven to 240°C/475°F/gas mark 9.

Wash and chop the vegetables. You don’t need to do this too neatly and there’s no need to peel them. Break the garlic bulb into cloves and leave them unpeeled.

In the middle of a large roasting tray, pile up all the veg, garlic and herbs and drizzle over with oil.

Drizzle the beef with oil and season well with sea salt and black pepper, then rub all over the meat. Place the beef on top of the vegetables.

Place the tray in the oven and immediately turn the heat down to 200°C/400°F/gas 6. Cook for 1 hour for medium beef. If you prefer it medium-rare, take it out 5 to 10 minutes earlier. For well done, leave it in for another 10 to 15 minutes.

If you’re doing roast potatoes and veggies, this is the time to crack on with them – get them into the oven for the last 45 minutes of cooking.

Baste the beef halfway through cooking and if the vegetables look dry, add a splash of water to the tray to stop them from burning.

When the beef is cooked to your liking, take the tray out of the oven and transfer the beef to a board to rest for 15 minutes or so. Cover it with a layer of tin foil and a tea towel. Leave it aside to cool slightly while you make your gravy, horseradish sauce and Yorkshire puddings.

The ingredients are very simple pantry staples, and making Yorkshire puddings is far simpler than you might think.

Add the flour to a large mixing bowl. I like to use my batter bowl which has a spout and handle to make pouring extra easy.

I use my small electric hand mixer to combine all of the batter ingredients together.

I like to cover the batter for 30 minutes to an hour before I cook it. This makes the puddings a little lighter. Keep the mixture at room temperature. If the batter is too cold directly out of the fridge, the puddings won’t rise well.

When you are ready to cook the puddings preheat the oven to 425 degrees F.

Pour ¼ teaspoon of oil into the bottom of each cup in a twelve-count muffin tray.

Place the oiled muffin tray into the heated oven for 3 to 5 minutes to heat the oil. Watch the oil does not burn.

While the oil is heating in the oven, use the electric mixer to beat more air into the batter for 1 to 2 minutes. Do not over beat it, since too much air will cause the puddings to puff and burst in the hot oven.

Traditional Yorkshire pudding was cooked in a big pan and cut up to serve. I prefer individual servings using a muffin tray. Old English cooks also added the drippings from their roast beef to the batter just before cooking. Since I usually use my crockpot to make my roast, I seldom have any drippings. This version, without extra dripping fat, turns out great.

Remove the muffin tray from the oven when the oil is hot.

Divide the batter evenly between the twelve muffin cups.

Fill each cup to about ¾’s full. This recipe is perfect for a dozen puddings.

Try to get this step done quickly, since the batter will start cooking as soon as it hits the hot muffin tray. The sooner it gets to the hot oven, the better the puddings will rise.

Bake at 425 degrees F for 25 to 30 minutes. The Yorkshire puddings are ready when they are golden brown and all puffed up.

This batch turned out pretty similar, but don’t be surprised if you have some extra puffy ones, or if some burst during cooking. The ones with a hole may not look as pretty as the others, but whatever shape or size they end up, they all taste great.

Serve with roast beef and with gravy poured all over them. Hope you enjoy this traditional English side.

Another Tex-Mex dish that is always a home run. Roast makes a great filling for enchiladas, and top with your favorite enchilada toppings. We love sour cream, cilantro, and tomatoes.

Sunday 9th of December 2018

Loving these recipes, great to have a few more ideas for leftover beef! Thank you for featuring my Monday Pie:-)

The Ritual of Sunday Roast

London chefs pay tribute to the ultimate home-cooked meal: the Sunday roast.

No meal is more beloved by the Brits than the Sunday roast.

The classic meal is a gray-weather-soothing, all-day-eating, then veg-on-the-couch-in-a-food-coma affair (think Thanksgiving, if it came once a week), and the communing around slabs of roast meat is a remarkably sturdy tradition—one that’s survived mad cow disease and the new appreciation in Britain for healthy (even vegan) eating and remains a nostalgic bulwark against the spread of American-style brunch.

“What’s brunch?” says chef and roast fanatic James Knappett of London’s Bubbledogs and Kitchen Table restaurants. 𠇊 bit of granola and a poached egg? What’s the point? Let’s get something proper to eat.”

Knappett and I are among 200 or so hardy diners attending what’s advertised as the ultimate gluttonous Sunday roast on an unseasonably warm Monday night in the spring. It was scheduled for Sunday originally, but a last-minute change in venue bumped The Great Roast, as the banquet’s being heralded, forward a night. The festivities kick off with cocktails outside Royal Hospital Chelsea’s Great Hall in West London at 6 p.m. Like any truly great Sunday roast, The Great Roast promises to kill us with excess. That its 14 courses are from some of Britain’s most celebrated contemporary chefs, cooking alongside award-winning European colleagues from across the continent, helped this marathon meat fest sell out fast.

By 8 p.m., we’re gathered at long wooden tables enjoying a family-style feast. Regimental banners from bygone British wars dangle overhead like house flags at Hogwarts. Simon Rogan of two-Michelin-starred L𠆞nclume in England’s Lake District sends out big platters of dry-aged roast duck. Stephen Harris of The Sportsman in Kent, the country’s most acclaimed country pub, offers roast pork loin with crisp crackling. There’s lamb neck from Dutch chef Jonnie Boer, spicy chicken from Sweden’s Björn Frantzén, and potato salad with baby shrimp from Belgium’s Kobe Desramaults.

Three hours in, antique silver trolleys arrive with the main event: giant blistered haunches of roast British beef, carved tableside by the London chefs who prepared them, Knappett and Shaun Searley of The Quality Chop House. The two are best mates who spend their Sundays off cooking meat together. Their final savory course comes with Yorkshire pudding and roast potato “trimmings,” as well as an extravagant, creamy morel mushroom gravy.

Despite the international mix in the kitchen, it’s an elementally British evening, built on generosity and conviviality and copious amounts of good food and drink. Former music executive Steve Plotnicki, who organized the dinner in lieu of an awards show for his Opinionated About Dining European restaurant survey, puts it best: “What could be more British than a Sunday roast?”

Across London, the Sunday roast is a class leveler enjoyed by every demographic, from Mayfair mansions to council estate flats. Though best eaten at home, it’s also long been the purview of the neighborhood pub. “People love on Sunday to go for a long walk in the country and end up at a pub having a roast by the fire,” says chef Merlin Labron-Johnson, formerly of London’s Portland restaurant, who contributed an eel and beet starter to The Great Roast.

The roast became a democratized British birthright starting in the 19th century, according to food historian Ivan Day, as the cost of meat and fuel began to plummet. “Suddenly, ordinary working people could roast meat using this new cheap fuel𠅌oal𠅊nd the day when they stop working, on a Sunday, would become the time for it,” he says.

For most Brits, the Sunday roast remains about family first, which is why even the most meager versions still have emotional resonance. “If you go and see your nan and she’s managed to put together a roast dinner, and the Yorkshires are frozen, and the veg is frozen, there’s still something about it,” says Knappett. “You’re like, this is right this is good. There’s so much nostalgia to that meal.”

Though its makeup can vary widely, the quintessential roast dinner revolves around a big piece of well-marbled beef, ideally roasted on the bone until it’s crisp around the edges and still pink inside. A love for roast beef runs at the historic heart of British culture. “The roast beef of old England became a symbol of British power, of patriotism,” says Day. �ross the Channel, the French took the piss out of us and called us les rosbifs as a kind of joke, but hidden in that is a certain amount of respect for the fact that our meat was much better, and we knew how to cook it really well.”

And you can’t have roast beef without Yorkshire pudding. Many Brits judge their Sunday roasts by the size of those puffy popovers, like mini soufflés, made from a simple batter of milk, flour, and eggs cooked in molds filled with sizzling fat. “It would be met with a riot if there wasn’t Yorkshire pudding in our house,” says Rogan. The batter, ideally, should be made a day ahead, according to Paul Weaver of London’s Noble Rot restaurant, who prepared the Yorkies (as they’re sometimes known) that were served with The Great Roast’s beef. “It needs time to develop flavor and structure.” And they should crisp as they rise but remain soft in the middle. “The pudding part is important,” says Searley, “the contrast of two textures.”

From the finest hotels to the edgiest gastropubs in London, the Sunday roast is surging in popularity as a restaurant meal (find one to try with 𠇅 Great Sunday Roasts in London,” below). But even the most ambitious chefs rarely fiddle with the classic formula. On a recent roast tour through the city, the beef—whether individually plated or on big, pass-around platters𠅊lways came with Yorkshire pudding and golden potatoes cooked in duck or goose fat, with meaty gravy and horseradish cream for spooning on top.

“When I think of Sunday roast, I think of family, sharing, being happy,” says Labron-Johnson. “People don’t mess around with it. You won’t chef it up too much.”

2. A Vietnamese-style shredded chicken salad

A Vietnamese chicken salad makes for a flavoursome lunch. Photograph: Rachel Kelly

This has to be one of my favourite lunchbox salads of all time. I pack the salad in a plastic box and take the dressing in a separate container and dress it just before eating. This helps to prevent the salad from going soggy.


2 tbsp sugar (I used light brown)
1 tbsp rice wine or white wine vinegar
3 tbsp fresh lime juice
2-3 tbsp fish sauce
1 tbsp vegetable oil (or 2 tsp sesame oil)
2 birdseye chillies
3 garlic cloves, very finely chopped
1 shallot, very finely sliced
leftover roast chicken
shredded vegetables, including cabbage, carrots and cucumber
2 tbsp chopped mint and coriander

Combine the sugar, rice wine vinegar, lime juice, fish sauce and vegetable oil. Stir well so that the sugar dissolves. De-seed (unless you like a lot of heat) and finely chop the chillies. Add the chilli and garlic to the liquid. Combine the onion, chicken and shredded vegetables together with the chopped herbs. Drizzle over the dressing and toss lightly.

Tip: Beef it up, so to speak, with cooked rice cellophane noodles.


The crowning glory of any Sunday lunch is the pudding or dessert. Puddings belong in colder weather as they are heavier, warming, and filling. Summer gatherings also welcome a sweet finish with lighter tarts or trifles: