A very merry Christmas to one and all! I hope that at this time of the year people are getting together with their loved ones, eating and drinking a lot of good food and drink, and having an absolutely amazing time! I for one am having a lovely family christmas with Pete, his sister Cara and her partner James, and Pete and Cara’s parents, who have been our wonderful hosts. There have been cups of teas and chocolates a-plenty, lots of chats, hilarious movies, and even better than that…family roasts.
One tradition I was introduced to is the family roast! Cara and Pete couldn’t even remember a time when there weren’t christmas roasts at the family home. I saw this as a brilliant opportunity to do a post about a very iconic sort of feast, and to learn a few tips myself about producing a decent roast! Now, I’m not a stranger to roasts, but I have never had the chance to sit down with a real roast fan and get a few great tips!
Serves: Several!, Prep: Set aside a good portion of the day, Cook: up to 3hrs, Rest: 20 mins at least
- 2.5kg lamb roast, leave on the shank
- About half a bulb of garlic, the fresher the better
- A generous handful of rosemary sprigs
- A splash of olive oil
- 2 and a bit pinches of salt
- A sprinkling of cracked pepper
- A small sprinkling of mixed herbs
- One quarter of the remains of the garlic, chopped
- The remains of the rosemary sprigs, finely chopped
* You will need another lot of this rub for the potatoes. However, add a bit more olive oil, a pinch of turmeric and a pinch of curry powder.
- 1 cup g/f vegetable stock, or lamb stock if you have it
- Run offs from the meat.
- 1 cup boiled water, plus more if desired
- Salt and pepper
- A sprinkling of g/f cornflour
- Extra helping of rub, plus the pinch of curry powder and turmeric, and extra olive oil.
- Potatoes, however many you like
- Pop the lamb onto a roasting rack in a roasting pan.
- Chop about one half of the half a bulb of garlic into little chunks, they don’t have to be that small, and gather up the rosemary.
- Take the knife, and insert the tip into the lamb. You want to make a little slit, and then twist the knife a little, as this will make a nice little pocket into which you pop a chunk of garlic and a pinch of rosemary leaves.
- You repeat this process of making holes, and filling them with garlic and rosemary all over the lamb, bottom and top, sides and all, keeping each about a centimeter apart.
- Cara said that larger chunks of garlic means less holes will be needed, whereas with smaller chunks a lot more holes will be needed.
- A tip for stuffing around the bone in your roast is to find the edge of the bone with your fingers, slide the knife in so the flat part rests against the bone, and plunge it in quite a bit deeper than with the other little holes before twisting. This will allow you to stuff right against the edge of the bone.
- Another tip is to absolutely not remove any of the fat from your roast, as this is vital for when it melts and drips to the bottom of the pan and becomes a gravy ingredient.
- You then prepare the rub.
- So you may have some chunks of garlic leftover from chopping about a half of that half a bulb, if not you can always chop up a tiny bit more. But otherwise start by popping that chopped garlic into a mortar, adding the remaining rosemary, which has been finely diced, the pinches of salt, the cracked pepper, herbs and a splash of olive oil.
- Cara’s pro tip with the herbs was to go with what smells right. You take a good sniff of the meat, and then, without exhaling in-between, turn and sniff the herbs. If the two smells mingle beautifully then go with that. If the smells don’t mingle well, don’t go with those herbs. We used mixed herbs with a good amount of sage, yum! Cara is a smell cook, she tends to go by smell, but I noticed that she was quite right, and the smell of the meat and the mixed herbs did mingle really, really well.
- So, you take your pestle and grind up all the ingredients in the rub and then let it rest for five minutes, so the flavours will seep into the oil.
- Pre-heat the oven to 180C.
- Take spoonfuls of the rub and rub it all over the meat, top and bottom, sides, etc. You really want it covered. And don’t worry if it drips off, that’s all right as it will become a part of the gravy.
- Pop the roast into the oven, and gently pour the cup of stock into the bottom of the roasting pan so it sits beneath the roast, but doesn’t touch it.
- Cara’s tip for adding the stock at this stage is that the steam rising from the stock helps to tenderise the meat, and it catches all the flavours and odds and ends dripping from the roast, and will become the base for the gravy.
- Then shut the oven door and roast the roast for an hour, at this stage you begin the potatoes, and cook the roast for a further 1.5 hrs.
- Cara’s tip is for lamb roasts, you roast it for 30 mins for every 500g of meat!
- For the potatoes, you essentially peel and chop them up so each chunk is roughly the same size, whether that’s halves or what, and then make another batch of more or less the same rub as with the meat, but with a bit more oil and a pinch of turmeric. You toss the potatoes in this rub in a bowl to get them ready, and then tip them out onto a baking tray, making sure to spread them apart somewhat, and roast them for about an hour.
- Cara’s pro tip for potatoes – if you don’t have enough time to get those potatoes in there, you can peel them, chop them up so they’re all the same size, boil them for five minutes, drain, toss in cornflour with seasoning, spray with spray oil and toss them in the oven to cook. It makes super crispy potatoes with mash-like insides. Yum!
- When there’s about half an hour to go on the potatoes, you can add the carrots, which have just been peeled and cut and tossed in olive oil, salt and pepper.
- If the veggies need more time when the meat’s 2.5 hrs are up, you can bump the oven temperature up to 220C and pull the meat out. Wrap the meat in alfoil and let it rest for 20 mins at least.
- Once the meat has rested and can be moved, you then add a cup of boiled water to the drippings in the bottom of the roasting pan to loosen it all up, and then tip that into a saucepan. You can then add more water if desired. You add salt and pepper, bring it all to the boil, and add a little cornflour to thicken it all up, and that’s your gravy!
- Then serve up the meat, with the veggies and gravy!