If you invite someone round and set out to make a roast dinner, they know you definitely mean business. If you have guests from another country their top three foodie requests are always fish & chips, good beer and a roast dinner. It’s the international symbol of British cooking (not for nothing do the French call us the ‘rosbifs’).
Roasting a large joint of meat can be rewarding, but when you’ve invested a large chunk of money on one piece of meat you want to get it right. Add to that trying to get all the accompaniments ready at the same time and you’d be forgiven for feeling a little stressed.
So why is it that our mums seem to be able to pull off this trick with their eyes closed, whilst for the rest of us it feels like going into battle?! Because mums are amazing. Obviously. So we asked around the team and lo and behold, our mums came up trumps! Now hopefully, with a few of these tips, we can all manage a roast dinner as good as our mum’s (well, nearly!).
Tip #1 – Start Small
James, our operations guy, got this top tip from his mum – if this is your first time roasting a lamb joint, start small. Literally start small – go for a half leg or half shoulder so you’ll worry less if it goes wrong. Second, start small with your ambition – don’t aim for the whole roast potatoes and trimmings spread. Concentrate on getting the meat just how you want it and serve it simply with salad and good bread. Once you’re happy with your meat, next time you’ll feel ready to take on a more complex challenge.
Tip #2 – Marinate, marinate, marinate
Our chef Anisa’s mum suggests packing lots of flavour in with a marinade. Lamb has a fairly strong taste and can stand up to lots of punchy flavours. It goes brilliantly with cumin and garlic so try soaking it in flavour for a good 24-hours before roasting. Smear the whole joint with a mixture of freshly ground cumin, coriander and black pepper, lemon juice, garlic cloves pounded with salt and oil. Put the meat in a big plastic bag in the fridge and turn it every few hours to make sure the whole thing is thoroughly coated in the delicious flavours.
Tip #3 – Surf and Turf
Mike, our marketing guru, says his mum used to stab the lamb all over the top carefully with a sharp knife. She’d rub the whole joint with a little oil and salt and pepper. In each hole she’d push an anchovy, half a garlic clove and a sprig of rosemary. Anchovy and lamb have a strange but undeniable affinity and the whole thing just works.
Tip #4 – Throw out your Timer
Well, maybe don’t throw the timer away, but our founder Oli’s mum suggests investing in a meat thermometer. They’re not that expensive and give you a reliable, fuss-free way to tell whether the meat is cooked to your liking. They usually have guides to different types of meat printed on them and an indication of whether the meat is cooked rare or well done.
Tip #5 – The best gravy
Good customer service is vital here at SimplyCook, so we definitely listen when Vikki, our customer service queen gives us a tip. Vikki’s mum suggests not using a roasting rack. Instead sit your precious lamb joint on a bed of halved onions and carrots. As they caramelise they’ll leave behind a rich ‘goo’ to make your gravy extra tasty. Depending on the size of your joint, if they’re not too blackened they can also be delicious as a side dish. Otherwise give them a good squash with a masher to get all those lovely flavourful juices out into the pan for the best gravy.
We’d love to hear your top lamb roasting tips. Did your mum cook lamb when you were a kid? Or did your dad do the roasting in your house? Will any of you be roasting hogget or mutton instead? What are THE best side dishes?