When Andy and Julie invited us over for dinner, I wasn’t expecting such a feast.
I was touched to learn that a Sunday Roast was on the menu as I believe there is no other meal that is close to the heart of the British as this magnanimous treat as it represents family and friends like no other. This was going to be my first Sunday Roast and having being treated to a Sunday Roast by Andy and Julie before, the hubster creature has already warned me of its magnitude, but I honestly did not see THIS coming.
The Sunday Roast originated in England as a meal that is typically eaten after church on Sunday. Large, family type meals after church service is common all over in Europe but the Sunday Roast is one that is uniquely British. There are fascinating tales of how the Sunday Roast came to be. It is said that in the late 1700s during the Industrial Revolution, families would place a cut of meat in the oven while they got ready for church. Just before leaving for church on Sunday morning they would add to this commonly found vegetables such as potatoes, parsnips and turnips and once they came back home from church, the dinner was ready. The juice from the meat and veggies are collected to make a gravy that would be poured over the meat and the vegetables.
The second theory conjectures that the origins of the Sunday Roast dates backs to the medieval times where the serfs in the village would serve the squire for six days at the end of which on Sunday, after the church service, the serfs would demonstrate their battle techniques at the end of which they would be rewarded with a feast that included oxen roasted on a spit.
However popular the Sunday Roast maybe I can imagine how challenging it must be for a cook to prepare all of that. The reason being, each of the elements feature clean, straightforward flavors and techniques that there is nothing to hide behind. I’ve already heard so much about Julie’s cooking so I was quite looking forward to the dinner. And it turned out that everything I’ve heard is true!
Julie had chosen roast chicken for that particular Sunday Roast and we were treated to tender, juicy succulent chicken that we simply could not stop digging into! The flavors were right on point and just like it was meant to, the hero of the dish was indeed the chicken with the subtle herbs perfectly complimenting the chicken, but not overpowering it.
Other meats that are a popular choice for the Sunday Roast are roast beef, roast pork or roast lamb. A rib of beef, a fillet or topside are the typical choices for beef while the lamb is usually spiked with slivers of garlic for that extra bit of flavor. When it comes to pork, the pork shoulder is the popular choice and one can never go wrong with a rosemary infusion.
Oh my, I can never gush enough about Julie’s gravy! The bread sauce was my absolute favorite while the brown gravy took several awards home with its perfect balance of flavor. This for me was an absolute winner that brought the veggies, the meat and the Yorkshire pudding together and made it sing. I must remember to ask for the recipe one of these days.
Julie has prepped and presented the veggies in a manner that is simple and abundant. There were carrots, beans, broccoli steamed to perfection with just the right amount of crunch to it and potato, and parsnip roasted with a beautiful caramelization on them. But the best part about it for me was the cauliflower cheese.
The crunchy cauliflower is submersed in a wonderfully creamy sauce that was still bubbling when it was brought to the table. The flavors were clean and simple with the cauliflower shining through and with a fragrant and golden layer on top made up of golden baked cheese. The velvety sauce was bursting with flavor and the cauliflower with its mild nuttiness went hand in hand perfectly with the flavors of the sauce. I could have licked the plate clean but manners stopped me from doing that unfortunately.
The Yorkshire pudding
The Yorkshire pudding is a British classic made of eggs, flour and milk that is typically served as a side dish and is an essential part of the Sunday Roast. This fluffy bread was useful in mopping up all that beautiful gravy and was the perfect accompaniment to that flavor-rich meal that we so eagerly wolfed down.
It is said that the Yorkshire pudding was created by northern England cooks as a means of making use of the fat that dropped into the dripping pan while the meat cooked. Because of this, the Yorkshire pudding was originally known as the dripping pudding. It is assumed that the pudding got the name ‘Yorkshire’ due to the region’s association with coal and the higher temperatures that was instrumental in making the pudding crispy. It is typically served with a gravy that would make the Yorkshire pudding moist.
So between glasses of red wine, bubbling flutes of Prosecco and laughing till our bellies ached, we ended the meal happy with our tummies full. I was also treated with a glass of Julie’s homemade rhubarb and ginger gin and that was the perfect end to an extremely pleasant afternoon spent among friends who felt more like family. Sunday Roast never felt better :)