I remember that making a full roast dinner from scratch always seemed so daunting when I first began cooking meals myself, but its all in the timing, and the timing can be forgiving if you think about things beforehand. Just remember that pretty much everything in a roast dinner can be gently reheated or kept warm for a bit, so if in doubt, just put things on to cook earlier rather than later to give yourself some breathing space.
Here I've set out an example timeline for a lunch at 1pm, to help anyone who is unsure of the sequence of cooking a roast dinner...
To serve 6
For the beef and gravy
1.5kg beef joint (topside or similar)
2 celery sticks
sprigs of rosemary
bulb of garlic (save a few cloves for the roast potatoes)
salt and pepper
1 litre of beef stock (or make up with stock cubes)
2 tbsp plain flour (all-purpose)
sprigs of rosemary
couple of garlic cloves
salt and pepper
2/3 cup (115g) plain flour (all-purpose)
pinch of salt
3/4 cup (285ml) milk
Plus: Any fresh vegetables you wish to accompany the meal (I used peas and carrots).
10:30am Take the meat out of the fridge.
10:45am Turn the oven to it's highest setting (usually around 240°C/475°F/gas 9). Wash and chop the vegetables (no need to peel), place in roasting pan with rosemary and garlic cloves (again, no need to peel), toss in oil and then place seasoned and oiled meat on top.
11:00am Put meat into the oven and turn down to 190°C/375°F/Gas 5.
11:45am Baste the meat (add a splash of water if the vegetables look very dry).
11:55am Fill the kettle and boil. Peel and cut the potatoes into halves (or quarters if large), fill a saucepan with the boiled water, add the potatoes and a little salt and par boil for ten minutes. Add a few tablespoons of oil to a metal roasting tray. Take a couple of garlic cloves (no need to peel), and crush with the side of a knife blade by pressing down on it with your palm. Add to the oil with a sprig or two of rosemary, and put in the oven to heat. Drain the potatoes and allow to steam dry, then rough the outsides up by tossing them in the colander or saucepan, or by scratching at them with a fork (this will make them crispier).
12:10pm Put the potatoes onto the preheated tray and gently turn in the garlic/rosemary flavoured oil (you can remove the garlic and rosemary at this point, or leave in if you prefer), season with salt (and pepper if desired) then put into the oven. Make the Yorkshire batter in a jug by whisking all ingredients together, let sit out until needed.
12:15pm Fill a kettle and put on to boil. Check the meat and remove meat from the oven if ready, transfer to a plate, wrap in foil and cover with a couple of tea towels to keep warm. Make up 1 litre of beef stock with the boiled water. Skim off any fat that has risen to the surface of the meat juices in the tin. Place the roasting tin with the vegetable trivet on the hob and heat to medium high, stir in 2 tbsp plain flour, breaking and mashing up the vegetables as you go (you could use a masher to make it easier), then add the stock and bring to the boil for a few minutes, scraping any bits from the bottom of the tin. Simmer uncovered.
12:35pm Turn the oven temperature up to 220°C and put a splash of oil (about a tablespoon) into each well of a 12 hole muffin tin and put into the oven to heat. Add any juices on the plate the meat has been resting on to the gravy pan, keeping the meat covered. Sieve gravy and put into a small saucepan on a medium heat to keep warm.
12:40pm Check roasting vegetables and turn if necessary. Without removing the muffin tin from the oven, slide the shelf out and pour the Yorkshire pudding batter into each well, quickly filling each about halfway. Slide back and shut the door (do not open until 15 minutes have elapsed). Boil or steam any other vegetables you want to serve.
12:50pm Set the table and pour drinks.
12:55pm Heat the plates (and any serveware if using) if desired* Remove everything from the oven. Drain any boiled/steamed vegetables. Carve the meat (or carve at the table). Plate up in the kitchen or put everything on the table for people to help themselves.
* I use silicone plate warmers, similar to these - you just layer them between the plates and microwave for a couple of minutes, they're brilliant!
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