Most dads' idea of a perfect day would be time spent with family enjoying a Sunday roast... after a long lie-in of course
Father's Day is always on a Sunday. It's perfect: there's time to relax, maybe your children will bring you breakfast in bed, or at the very least, a cup of tea. It's a day for smiles and laughter, a day for remembering and making memories, and for sharing great food and conversation.
Tradition dictates that a roast dinner is on the menu. Don't worry Dad, it may be your day for not doing very much but you can still carve. Go back to your paper for now. It's an oft-repeated maxim but it's true: great meals start with great ingredients. The heart of a traditional roast is the meat. If you don't want your beef to end up like old shoe leather, there are a few things to bear in mind. Let's start with the cut.
Whichever cut you choose, make sure it has been hung for at least 21 days to ensure the best flavour. A rib of beef is ideal because it has a lovely, natural marbling of fat which helps keep it moist and tender during cooking. It is usually cooked on the bone, but do ask your butcher to chine the backbone to make carving easier, and Dad will appreciate it too when he rouses himself from the armchair to do the honours.
Now add all the trimmings
make perfect roast potatoes
Hot golden nuggets of roast potato make a roast dinner extra-special but it's essential to use the right variety. Maris Pipers are ideal but King Edwards are good too. Peel your potatoes and then cut into equal, fairly large pieces.
Put them in a bowl and leave under cold running water for a few minutes. Meanwhile, bring a pan of salted water to the boil and add your washed potatoes. Cook until the potatoes are soft but not falling apart, then drain into a colander and leave to steam for a few minutes to remove as much moisture as possible.
Pour olive oil or goose fat into a roasting tray large enough to hold all the potatoes in one layer and put it in the oven (190°C). Give your potatoes a bit of a shake to roughen the edges up a bit and put them into the roasting tray, making sure that all sides are coated in oil. Roast in the oven for about 45 minutes to an hour, turning every 20 minutes, until crisp and golden brown.
perfect Yorkshire Puddings
Crisp Yorkshire puddings erupting magnificently hot from the pan fully deserve their place on your plate. In days gone by, one large pud laced with gravy was served as a starter in the North, but smaller ones accompanying a roast dinner are more commonplace these days. The better your batter, the better your puds will turn out, but the real secret is the heat. Hot oil or preferably beef dripping is essential. Your batter should sizzle as soon as it touches the oil.
So, here goes: in a bowl, sift 250g of plain flour and add a pinch of salt. In a jug combine 150ml of milk and 150ml of water. Make a well in the flour and add 4 beaten eggs. Start adding the milk and water mixture to the flour and whisk until your batter has the consistency of single cream. Leave to rest for about 20 minutes. Grease your roasting tin with dripping or pour in a little oil and put into a very hot oven.
When the oil or dripping is hot, remove from the oven and pour your batter into the individual holes. If the batter doesn't sizzle, your oil isn't hot enough. Cook for twenty minutes until risen and golden brown. Try to resist opening the door during cooking, as your puddings will sink faster than a stone.
make the perfect gravy
You can't have a traditional Sunday roast without proper gravy. It's like Morecambe without Wise. What's left in your roasting pan after you have removed your meat is the beginning of a beautiful friendship. Pour off any excess fat, put the pan on the hob and turn up the heat.
Pour half a glass of red wine into the juices and start scraping all the stuck on caramelized loveliness off the bottom. Keeping the heat high and the juices bubbling, reduce to a sticky glaze, then add 500ml of stock and give it a good stir. Strain through a sieve into a saucepan and reduce by a third. Finally, add a tablespoon of ice-cold butter, stir it through and pour into a gravy jug.
If you prefer thicker gravy, you could add a tablespoon of flour to your pan juices before adding your red wine.
try roast lamb instead?
If you don't fancy beef, there are lots of alternatives. A leg of lamb roasted with garlic and rosemary is a real crowd-pleaser. Bash up some garlic, rosemary and sea salt in a pestle and mortar and rub it all over your lamb.
Chop up some carrots and an onion and put into a roasting tray with your lamb on top. Place into a 200°C oven and cook for about an hour and ten minutes (based on a 2kg joint), basting with the juices every twenty minutes or so. Rest meat for twenty minutes before serving with roast potatoes, steamed veg and mint sauce or redcurrant jelly.
"Lightly cover your meat in foil and leave it for at least 20 minutes before carving"
Topside is good, as are silverside and top rump. They make for tender joints and are easily carved into generous slices. Take your meat out of the fridge early enough for it to reach room temperature before cooking. Next, heat your oven to 180°C. Allow 45 minutes cooking time per 1.5kg. This will leave you with a well-done outside, medium just inside, medium rare near the centre and pink in the middle. Magic – that should cater for everyone's taste.
Now, you need to let your meat rest. The fibres in the meat have contracted during cooking and need time to relax again so that your joint will be tender and succulent. Lightly cover your meat in foil and leave it for at least 20 minutes before carving.
Of course, your roast beef joint is the main attraction but it needs great support to be enjoyed at its best. Golden roast potatoes, crunchy on the outside, fluffy on the inside, rich, meaty gravy made from the roasting juices and lovely seasonal veg that hasn't had the life boiled out of it will all help make your Father's Day roast a thing of beauty.
It's easy with our quality kitchen essentials
Sticky Toffee Pudding
What you need (serves 8)
- 200g dried dates, stoned and chopped
- 300ml coffee
- 90g butter, softened
- 170g dark brown sugar
- 2 eggs
- 200g self-raising flour
- 1 tsp bicarbonate of soda
- 40g dark brown sugar
- 1 tsp salt
- 100ml double cream
What you do
- Place the chopped dates and coffee in a small pan and gently simmer over a low heat until softened.
- Meanwhile, place the butter in a mixing bowl with the sugar and beat with a wooden spoon until light and fluffy.
- Add the eggs one at a time and mix until incorporated; fold in the flour.
- When the dates are nice and soft, remove them from the heat and blend with a hand blender until smooth, then add the bicarbonate of soda.
- Add the dates to the mixing bowl and carefully fold together. Pour the mixture into a lined baking tray or loaf tin. Bake in the oven for 30-40 mins at 180°C/350°F.
- To test if the pudding is cooked, remove from the oven and press the centre down gently, if it springs back then it is cooked; if not, put it back in the oven and cook for a further 5 minutes until firm.
- For the sauce, place the sugar and salt in a non-stick pan on a medium heat. Add the cream and boil until the sugar has completely dissolved.
- Serve warm with a big dollop of clotted cream or ice cream!
Who can resist such a wonderful pud?
If anyone has room after all that food, an indulgent sticky toffee pudding with ice cream will finish things off nicely. Job done. Dad happy.