Sunday, 7 January 2007


It's another lazy day out of the kitchen for me today as we nurse the end of our colds. With some curry from last night left over for tea today, we all decided to take a trip to the local pub for a full Sunday roast. I'm never the most enthusiastic of people when it comes to trying out places that are frequented by the masses on a Sunday. Not that I'm a snob or anything, it's just that I'm particular when it comes to what I expect on my plate for a Sunday roast. Especially if I'm paying for it. If it isn't as I expect it, I'm a pain. Today was no exception.

The local pub has recently been revamped. Full dust down, new management and a focus on 'good home cooked food'. I've heard that expression so many times and it fills me with fear when I read it. Inside was pleasant enough and we were welcomed with open arms. A full carvery was the order of the day, one of those 3 different kind of meats and help yourself to as many vegetables.

I waited in the queue, starving as always, and peered at the food. From a distance, the ham looked beautiful I have to say, full honey roast, cooked to perfection. The turkey was a monster but again, looked succulent and well cooked, a rarity for this beast of a bird. But the piece I was looking forward to the most, that King of Sunday roasts, oh my word. A disaster. Roast beef. Roasted well done was not the expression, it was furnaced. Black on the outside and a mixture of dark brown and grey right through the middle, nothing could save this classic cut from it's misery. But ahead of me, people were lapping it up. 'The beef please, it looks amazing', and off the punters trotted to douse it in a myriad of accompaniments and gravy and chew on it all afternoon. I asked the chef if he had any more 'medium' beef in the oven about to come out. Of course the answer was no. 'We get complaints if it isn't well done. Ridiculous isn't it?'. My face said it all.

As I said, fortunately the ham and turkey were great and the vegetables varied and cooked well, even the Yorkshire puddings were outdoing mine 3 to 1 on size. But I could not hide my disappointment at this crime on food which I have seen so many times. What is it with the mass general public when it comes to particulars on food? If you are reading this and you are somebody who flinches at the sight of blood on their beef, can you please tell me why? I will never be able to work it out. Especially on a Sunday roast. The roast beef dinner should be one of celebration, a dish that should be paraded through the streets each year with it's own dedicated celebration day as a classic to be worshipped. Although the French love to laugh at our fascination with 'ros boeuf', they know that it is a classic dish and would not dream of serving it in any other way than medium rare. Taking it any further than medium dries out and subtracts the beautiful flavour of a fantastically reared piece of beef. Really, it does. The texture turns granular, you are chewing on it all day. Please tell me I am wrong?! Horrendous.

Anyway, I will get off my high horse. But I do get so disappointed sometimes. It is in my nature as a foodie to get annoyed at the certain ways that we have as a nation. Don't take it too personally. But do think twice next time you either buy or make your own roast beef as to how it should really be served. In fact, I urge you to try out the following recipe for 'proper' roast beef and ensure that it becomes a Sunday mantra for all roasters in the UK everywhere.

The classic Roast Beef - to serve many

1 - Heat your oven up hot, GM8 or 230 degrees C.
2 - Take one well hung fore rib of beef on the bone (this is the classic cut but Sirloin will do, fillet removed) and rub it all over with olive oil and lots of salt and freshly ground pepper. Heat up a roasting tin on the hob and seal your beef on all sides before placing in the oven for 20 minutes.
3 - Turn the oven down to GM3, 160 degrees C and roast your beef for 10 minutes per 500g for rare or 15 minutes per 500g for medium.
4 - Remove from the oven, put it onto a plate, cover with foil and rest and allow all of them lovely juices to flow for a good 30 minutes. This is essential.
5 - Deglaze the roasting dish with a glass of red wine and some good beef stock for the best gravy in the world. Serve with vegetables of choice, a good horseradish sauce and of course, Yorkshire puddings.

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