Not posted for a couple of days - too busy! However, we have just had one of the best Sunday lunches for quite some time.
A good meal, they say, is all in the preparation, and this one we prepared for! Firstly, I decided it would be a roast beef dinner, so that requires the following ingredients: roast potatoes, a good joint of beef, fresh vegetables, Yorkshire Puddings (more on them later) and a gravy made exclusively from the meat juices. Being Sunday, a pudding is required and on this occasion it is Sticky Toffee Pudding including a dash of Whiskey.
So Saturday, off to the market. First off, the veg. In the end, I got sprouts, carrots and broccoli all of which were fresh that day and local - hadn't traveled more than 20 miles and had probably been out of the ground less than 12 hours. Next the meat. A superb piece of Brisket off our favourite butcher on the market. All his meat is superb quality, and has been kept/hung for the correct amount of time. You have to be able to take a bit of Wigan cheek, but that's a small price to pay for quality - and anyway, I give as good as I get! Another stall and we get a tub of beef dripping - for the roast potatoes. Christine got the ingredients for the pudding and the recipe off the internet.
Well, around comes Sunday and time to cook. I'm doing the main course, while Christine, who has already been working since 6:30 this morning, does the pudding and makes my Yorkshire batter from her secret recipe. The joint goes into the tray with about a quarter inch of water and then into the hot combi oven. Now, I just leave the meat to itself while I prepare the veg. Potatoes are peeled, washed to get the excess starch off - very important, and then put into a pan and brought to the boil, simmering for about 10 minutes. In the meantime, the dripping is getting hot in the normal oven - and I mean hot! - 200 degrees Celsius, along with the oil for the Yorkshires. When the potatoes have boiled, drain off the water, put the lid back on and shake them - this fluffs up the surfaces and makes all the difference when roasting. They are then placed into the very hot roasting dish, giving off that beef aroma that only good beef dripping has, and then straight back into the oven.
At this point the Yorkshires also go in the same oven, and it is here that controversy strikes. Yorkshires are traditionally cooked in a large open roasting dish, but I used a muffin tin that makes individual puddings. These are often called Rutlands after England's smallest county (Yorkshire is the largest!), but I do prefer them that way. Anyway, they go in at the same time as the potatoes and the veg steamer is set to 30 minutes. By this time the meat has cooked and is resting. The juices are poured off and made into gravy - no stock cubes, just a bit of cornflour to thicken it up.
Meanwhile Christine is making the pudding. We are both in our small kitchen and we are not arguing - amazing. Anyway, things are coming together beautifully. The smells are mouth-watering. I carve the meat (well cut it into manageable chunks) and it looks and tastes superb. Tender and juicy - perfect. The veg steamer goes ping, and they are perfect - not over-done but cooked and firm. The sprouts have a flavour you just don't get from the supermarket - mainly because they haven't traveled over 250 miles to get to the shop! Out come the roast potatoes ("roasties" are the local vernacular). A light golden surface, crisp and full of the beef aroma from the dripping, light and fluffy inside. Finally the Yorkshires; light, fluffy with a crisp surface that allows the gravy to sit in them without them becoming soggy. Everything goes to the table. The girls have orange juice, while Christine and I share a bottle of beer specially brewed to go with a meal - light, tangy and clean tasting that cleans the palate without overpowering the taste buds.
Well, the meal is great. Everything tastes superb, - even though I say so myself, and plates are emptied. It was definitely one of those meal that came together just right. As I write this, I've not yet had my pudding as we are all too full, but we will have it later as supper. I'll let Christine describe the pudding on her site as this was the first time she has made a pudding like this. As it stands in the kitchen at the moment, gently steaming with the custard simmering on the stove, it looks and smells divine! Can't wait. To round the meal off, I'm going to have a bottle of WychCraft beer. This is a very full-flavoured beer with quite a unique, almost lemony taste.
The only thing that spoils it, is the thought of work tomorrow! Ah well.