Why Roast Dinners are the best, and how to make perfect Gravy.

Hello again,

Who doesn’t love a Sunday Roast!!

We always try to have a roast dinner on a Sunday. It is something of a tradition for us and, especially for my 94-year-old father who has his dinner with us.

It made me think of all sorts of things that could be connected to this one simple meal. I say simple because it is not really cooking, just a matter of getting the timing right. I once shocked a friend who I hadn’t seen for a while who came to visit by saying that I had done a roast dinner as it was easiest. She wasn’t the most confident of cooks and couldn’t quite understand where I was coming from. If space, I will return to this.

From a nutritional point of view, it is actually quite good for you. It is a balance of all sorts of foods and nutrients. If you use the Eatwell Guide – the latest guide used in schools to show how we should balance the number of portions of different foods in our diet in order to be healthy – then you have a portion of meat or protein food, you can have roast potatoes which provide the carbohydrate and plenty of different vegetables to give you possibly 2 portions of your 5-a-day. A wonderful Yorkshire pudding gives you the dairy section and a bit more carbohydrate. Serve with real gravy and what is not to like? (Find out more at the BNF website www.nutrition.org.uk )

This made me also think about the Real Gravy thing. So many people now make their gravy from processed, high salt, granules by just adding water. I have to say, that the only time I have ever made lumpy gravy was when I tried to use these once! Never again!!

If you look at the pan that the meat was cooked in (generally roast meat has 20 minutes per lb or approx. 450g plus 20 minutes, plus at least 10 minutes resting time), there is always some of the fat and meat juices left. Horror upon horror, most people then will put this in the dishwasher and turn to the ‘plastic’ granules! If you add some water to this pan and put it on the hob to heat, all of these beautiful meat juices and flavours will dissolve into this liquid. (You will see it change colour) If you then blend a little flour or cornflour with some water in a small bowl or jug to make a thin paste and stir this in to thicken the liquid in the pan, you have gravy. You can then season it and flavour it any way that you want and to your taste. To be extra healthy, you can use the water from cooking the vegetables and stir that in so that you get any flavour and vitamins from there.

The face my children make after a homemade roast dinner

Making gravy this way is also cheaper, which brings me on to another thing. Many people don’t do roast dinner as they say that they can’t afford it. I will agree that it might not be the cheapest meal, but then neither is buying 4 ready meals for a family. The other thing is Leftovers. When I was teaching, I asked a class how many of them knew what Bubble and Squeak was? Most couldn’t tell me. Cold meat and bubble and squeak for Monday dinner – delicious. Cut leftover meat into strips and serve with vegetables in a Stir fry – amazing. And cheap!

When I first started teaching it was called Rechauffee Cookery – French for re-heated. Doesn't this sound so much better!

Until next time

Food Lady

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