Alternative roast dinner recipes
Does the thought of another cosy-yet-predictable roast leave you lukewarm? Dave Hall asked our top Cook contributors how they tackle the British classic
We’d be the last you’d expect to clobber the fine tradition of the Sunday roast, but if the thought of another Sunday with the same old spuds and soggy cabbage doesn’t float your gravy boat, it might be time for bit of a revamp.
We asked our favourite Cook chefs and contributors for unique ways to reinvent the British classic.
Itamar Srulovich and Sarit Packer, Honey & Co
“We love a proper British roast, but we enjoy taking it on a Middle-Eastern trip with different spicing and marinades: Chicken takes well to all sort of spice rubs: try baharat and ras el hanout spice mixes rubbed on to the skin before roasting. Duck and game will usually get a gentler treatment – sweet spices like cinnamon, nutmeg, mace and cloves will work really well here. Lamb gets a quick and potent marinade of grated onion, chilli, garlic and whatever spice we feel like – fenugreek is a good match, and we always serve it with tahini. Pork will get the Greek treatment: cumin, oregano and garlic when it’s roasting, a squeeze of lemon and a pot of yoghurt when you serve. We rarely mess with beef, but had great success with a marinade of Turkish chilli paste, cumin and dried coriander. We love roasties but rarely make them – lazy cooks that we are, we tend to just place the potatoes and vegetables in a tray with the meat and let them cook in the roasting juices – Just as good!
In the Middle East, kebabs are the equivalent of roasts, although slow cooking of meat is also a favoured tradition. It’s not the roast itself that varies greatly to a traditional British roast, it’s which accompaniments it is served with that really make a difference. You will usually find some version of the following four items as a staple:
• Yoghurt (yogurt, cucumber, mint)
• Bread (Lavaash)
• Rice/local grain (plain steamed basmati )
• Salad (Shirazi salad of cucumber, tomatoes and onion)
You’d think that spicing is a big factor, but in Iran it would be more of a marinade (usually of onions, saffron and lemon). But to transform a simple roast, a mix of your favourite bold spices (cumin, cinnamon, coriander, turmeric etc) does a wonderful job – otherwise readymade blends like ras al hanout, baharat or any masala would work wonders.
“I don’t normally like to mess with my Sunday roasts, but Azerbaijani roast chicken with prune stuffing and sumac and Armenian roasted veg, lend themselves so well to it. They are both from the Caucasus, and are perfect for late summer/early autumn roast. You just add to the chicken a spicy stuffing of about 100g finely chopped prunes, some lemon juice and rind, a grated red onion and plenty of sea salt and pepper. Then cover the chicken with some olive oil and a sprinkling of sumac. Almost festive! I love the prunes and sumac in the roast chicken, and the cabbage wedges in the Armenian veg acquire this gorgeous flavour when caramelised. If good tomatoes are out of season, leave them out. This veg roast is definitely all about that cabbage. (DH’s addition pending approval)
Yuki Goma, yukiskitchen.com
This Japanese-style beef is quick succulent, and should go down a storm: Look for the best, leanest beef fillet you can find, tie it together in string, then dry-sear it quickly. Then submerge it in a rich sauce of soy, sake, mirin, konbu seaweed and a grating of fresh ginger. You can add some thinly sliced onion to the sauce too. Then braise the beef for just 3 minutes. It will emerge super-moist – almost steamed. You can serve this with either mash, or, try this – parboil some new potatoes, then finish them off in the sauce.
Or, here’s a novel way to roast chicken – what I call “injection umami chicken”. You simply make a konbu dashi (kelp stock) and, using a turkey baster cooking syringe, inject the stock into the chicken before stuffing it with lemon and roasting.
For meat-eaters looking for a break from the doldrums of what is usually offered for a roast, a Maltese fenkata may be the answer. A fenkata is a traditional Maltese feasting meal centred around rabbit. It features rich sauces, roast potatoes and all the elements that we enjoy most about a roast in Britain. Traditionally, the bonier parts of the rabbit are cooked along with choice offal in a rich sauce with peas that is served with spaghetti as a starter. The meatier parts of the rabbit are roasted with garlic and wine and served with roast potatoes and crusty bread.
For a vegetarian alternative, few people appreciate just how easy and delicious it is to make a Vegan Haggis from scratch (see my website for details). It makes for an impressive centrepiece to the Sunday table, can be prepared in advance or frozen, and is filling, flavoursome and generous. The haggis can even be carved, unlike some of its crumblier, nuttier cousins.
Regula Ysewijn, blogger, designer, anglophile
“I like the traditional combinations for roasts, because of course for me, it isn’t really samey – for me it is quite special. Seriously, you haven’t lived until you have tasted a dripping pudding made under the juices of a roasting joint of beef before a brisk fire on a chilly day.
Still , have you tried serving plum pud along with your roast beef? That was traditional beofre yorkies came along. Or try roast capon: thinly slice the meat and serve it with a tuna-mayo and caper sauce just like a tonato.
We don’t tend to have a classic beef roast as we’re Hindus, so will either opt for chicken or lamb. When it comes to chicken, cook a whole tandoori chicken, marinated in ginger, garlic, chilli and yoghurt and cooked until soft and melting so people can pull off their favourite bits at the table. This sort of chicken is best eaten with your hands and with a side of pillowy naan breads, cucumber raita and kachumber.
King of Indian roasts is the lamb raan. This was created in honour of Alexander the Great circa 300BC. The leg is rubbed in warming spices like cinnamon, cloves, cardamom, ground almonds and yoghurt, marinated for as long as you can bear. I like to slow-cook it again so it falls apart. I tend to serve it with fresh pomegranate, chickpea and radish chaat salad, mint raita and again, naan bread.
Secretly we do eat yorkshire puddings with our roasts sometimes. I went to school in Yorkshire so feel quite passionately about them.
Ivor Peters: the Urban Rajah
The Indian subcontinent’s answer to the Great British Roast is the Tandoor, a hot clay oven, which bakes succulent cuts of meat and juicy vegetables into delectable spiced morsels. Personally I always think meat on the bone is the tastiest option and I’ll poach the piece in a spiced milk liquor with a cinnamon stick, autumnal scented black cardamom pods, a few cloves and bay leaves. The outcome is a supremely tender joint. Score through the skin a few times then caress it with a saffron and garam masala yoghurt paste. Cover with foil for the first half of the roasting time then open up the parcel and allow the surface to caramelise, dust with some crushed pistachios 30 minutes before serving.
If you’re looking for more inspiration than the usual Yorkshire puds and roast tatties, make a tray of jammy spiced roast vegetables using an Indian five-spice called panch phoran, which consists of equal measures of whole spice seeds including fenugreek, nigella, cumin, black mustard and fennel. Dust over a tray of peeled and diced pumpkin, beetroot, carrot, parsnip and potatoes coated with a friendly measure of rapeseed oil along with as much crushed garlic as you dare. Roast until jammy, tanned and crisp.
Here’s a fine alternative to gravy: Caramelise a finely diced onion by sautéing in butter with some cloves and add a friendly measure of jaggery, which is unrefined crumbly cane sugar and possesses a toffee finish. When jammy and golden, slacken off with a couple of tbsp of water and scarify the roasting tin used for your joint. The juice of the joint and the jaggeried onions will create instant karma and your tastebuds will banish gravy granules forever.