Roasting has gone all high tech in my house. I have an electronic meat thermometer that you can leave in during the roasting and that alerts you to your desired temperature and an oven thermometer which tells me that my brand new oven thermostat is 10 degrees out. The oven looks like a freakish incubator cosseting my bizarre beef baby with dials and wires protruding from it. I know my roasting temperatures, my desired final temperature taking into account the resting period. I’ve got atmospheric conditions noted and ambient temperature monitored. All of this technology and you’d think I would have the desired level of done-ness; a quivering bloody pink. Nope, the residual heat during resting took the bastard up to 61 degrees Celsius and into the medium rare. Still, the roast potatoes were perfect, as were the parsnips, sweetly sticky and ever so slightly charred and they didn’t even have probes stuck into them like some bizarre vegetable alien abduction. I’m not sure I’ll be using it again, if only for the sake of the rather disturbing imagery it has managed to conjure.
I’m quite militant in my desire for a roast on a Sunday. It strikes me that Sundays are made for pottering in the kitchen whilst meat roasts in the oven, potatoes bubbling away in the stove ready to be thrown into hot oil and listening to the radio, making a grab for your favourite bits of the Sunday papers and an endless torrent of cups of tea. Even making up a cake or a batch of scones for after lunch to have whilst in front of a war film, something with David Niven or Richard Burton for preference or a 70’s Bond film (“I think he’s attempting re-entry, sir!”), or laughing at the avaricious sods on the Antiques Roadshow. A roast is the cornerstone of the week; it’s a soothing familiarity, not something to be messed about with. The simplest of seasonings, crisp golden spuds and gallons of deeply savoury gravy. The only changes to this most formulaic of meals should be to make things crispier, juicer or more savoury as the introduction of any new flavour or texture should be avoided at all costs. Any deviation from the orthodoxy of a roast will be met with sneering hostility, well, it will by me anyway.
The best thing about having a roast for Sunday lunch is the opportunities it gives you for dinner on a Monday. A thought of a dinner made of leftovers from a Sunday roast is the kind of thing that gets me through a difficult Monday, sees me though tricky meetings and stroppy clients. Cold rare beef slathered in horseradish and heaped with pickles and potato salad. Roast chicken sandwiches with home made mayo and crisp lettuce, pork cold cuts and mustard, some apple crumble straight out of the fridge. Comforting, sweetly savoury and somehow, ever so slightly magical.