Hi Everyone and welcome back to another rendition of Jaegermush…..home to the wonderful world of uniquely inspired cuisine! Now that is a tag line!!
I want to talk Sunday Dinner. Or should I say Sunday Supper or Sunday Lunch or Sunday Tea or even Sunday Joint…..and I don’t mean the kind you are thinking either…it refers to the joint of meat you silly billy. Regardless of what you call it, it is a gathering of 2 or more people to share traditionally, a decent size piece of roasted meat, poultry and sometimes game served with vegetables, gravy and stuffing.
There are (at least) two opinions on the origins of the Sunday Roast. One holds that, during the industrial revolution, Yorkshire families left a cut of meat in the oven before going to church on a Sunday morning, which was then ready to eat by the time they arrived home at lunchtime. The second opinion holds that the Sunday Roast dates back to medieval times, when the village serfs served the squire for six days a week. Then on the Sunday, after the morning church service, serfs would assemble in a field and practice their battle techniques and were rewarded with a feast of oxen roasted on a spit.
This is a tradition that thankfully, at least here in Newfoundland, is not lost on people. Young and old a like, it is fair to say that most people relish the idea of a juicy steaming roast of something coming out of the oven on Sundays and being served up with all the traditional favourites like turnip, carrots and potatoes. Occasionally for excitement, parsnips are thrown into the equation. And oh yes, let’s not forget the stuffing/dressing. For my mainland readers a great big YES, Newfoundlanders eat dressing/stuffing a lot…at least in comparison to you. Most often it is made on the side and does not really compare in any way to the stuffing/dressing that is made elsewhere in Canada. The reason for that is because Newfoundlanders do not need a roasted turkey or chicken to enjoy stuffing/dressing…they just need Sundays and any cut of meat really.
I suppose the greatest appeal of the Sunday Dinner is the gathering of friends and or family in one room. Sunday dinner is kind of like a scaled down Christmas dinner if you think about it and for me that always inspires a great deal of nostalgia and as of right now, home-sickness. My Mom never really embraced cooking the way I have, although she always had a hot meal prepared each and every day for us BUT she did embrace, even though she may deny it, the family dinner, the Sunday supper. Man, my Mom could put on a spread! I don’t remember a lot of roast beef being served but my Mom loved to cook a ham or a turkey and she did it right. I know she would would give credit to her father, my Grandpa for her talents in this department. He too was always the master of the roast.
Mom always had all kinds of different vegetables and I seem to have picked up that habit now as an adult. I too always include 2, 3 and sometimes 4 vegetables when serving up a big feed. Mom always, always, always had her famous braised red cabbage. It was expected and still is. I would continue the tradition if I could get someone to eat with me. My peeps have tried but it is not what they are looking for on a Sunday. My rule is always something green on the plate so around here Asparagus plays a huge role as does broccoli. Green beans would work if only the grocery stores sold ones that were edible… One of the few drawbacks to living in the middle of the north Atlantic Ocean. Please shy away from those beans that come in already prepackaged. Sobey’s is starting to package up all their produce and it is unnecessary. Once vegetables are in a package they often undergo a chemical “gassing” to preserve them longer. One of the problems with this however, is that once you break open the bag and air is exposed to the product, bacteria and other harmful pathogens take over en masse. Also, many pre-packs are using vegetables from China. There is just no need! At this point, Peruvian vegetables are appearing local.
Shall we talk roasting? Lets!!
Not all cuts of meat are created equal but I can at least give you some general rules and ideas of Roast cookery. First of all I will talk Beef, Pork and Chicken because I have already done the turkey thing and they are more comparable weight size. To feed 4 to 6 people you will need roasts that are 3-4 pounds. When choosing beef roasts, Top Sirloin or Inside round roasts are affordable alternatives to the prized Rib Roast. When choosing a piece of pork select a pork loin roast, with or without the bone. With the bone, just add 20 minutes to your cooking time. As for chicken…..it’s a tough one especially here in Newfoundland but I can’t stress enough that free-range or organic chicken is truly the way to go. You don’t need me to jump on my pulpit right now and condemn the chicken producing companies of the world……you know what I’m alluding to and no one needs to be supporting that or putting all that rubbish in their bodies.
Once you have your 3-4 pound roast of choice, take it out of the fridge a half hour before going into the oven. Preheat your oven to 475 degrees and prepare your mire poix of flavour builders…..2 onions, 2 carrots and 2 pieces of celery by roughly chopping them and adding them to your roasting pan with about 8-12 cloves of garlic. Gather all this towards the middle of the pan, drizzle with oil ( olive oil if you have it) and place the roast directly on top of this concoction. Now drizzle the meat with oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper really working it in with your hands. If you are looking to really jazz things up, add some fresh herbs to the mix like sage, rosemary, thyme or parsley. Squeeze lemon juice and use oregano instead of the other herbs and voila! you have a Greek-inspired roast. It’s that easy.
Turn your oven down to 400 degrees once you put the roast in the oven. For beef cook about an hour for medium and about 10 minutes less or so for medium rare. A 3-4 pound pork loin roast will take about an hour and 20 minutes. If you like your pork fat to be “crackling” keep it in longer until it crisps up or turn on the broiler at the end. Your roasted whole chicken will take about an hour and 20 minutes to cook as well. There are two very important things to remember here folks when it comes to roasting….1. if your are roasting veggies they need a good 45 minutes in the oven so don’t forget to add them to the pan….and 2. let your roast rest out of the oven for a half hour before you carve it. This allows the meat muscle to relax and draw all the moisture back into the meat. A way better experience I assure you.
So it is written and so it must be done. Get roasting my amigos, get roasting!!