There is something special about a roast dinner – roast meat, maybe beef, or pork with crackling or lamb (no-one sees mutton theses days) or chicken (which used to be such a special treat when I was young and often replaced turkey for Christmas but is now the cheapest meat available) and of course goose or turkey for Christmas… very occasional you might have roast pheasant, but that wouldn’t really be classed as ‘a roast’.
The thing about a traditional roast, isn’t just the meat which takes centre stage, it’s the roast potatoes (and sometimes roast parsnips too, maybe glazed with honey) and the riot of other vegetables, all cooked in a very plain way – a way which shows them off to their best – steamed or lightly boiled. So it maybe more potatoes, boiled or mashed, any variety of beans in season, peas, leeks – on their own or braised, or served with white sauce, or a light cheese sauce, root vegetables of every sort, greens – cabbage, kale, broccoli – purple sprouting maybe, spring greens… you name it,m we can cook and eat it! Carrots (oh, were they included as root vegetables?) – and then there is the modern way, which we would ever have dreamt of as children, roast vegetables.
The old-fashioned roast had specific accompaniments, onion sauce for lamb or mutton, apple sauce for pork, horse-radish for beef, Cumberland, red currant, rowan berry, bread sauce… the list goes on! Sometimes there are batter or Yorkshire puddings, traditionally served with beef, but actually, delicious with anything!
However, the key thing, which holds everything together,and compliments it all, is gravy. Gravy is not sauce, it is not a jus, or a reduction, it is gravy… meat juices, stock, seasoning, a dash of wine, some cram… it is something magic, and I am sure there is no actual recipe, but when the cook get’s it right, it is perfection! As one of my dad’s friends said ‘Lovely gravy, matey!’