When we were growing up in the 60s and 70s, we always had cold meat and Branston Pickle on a Monday evening, using up the leftovers from the previous day’s Sunday roast. Everyone did – if Britain had a written constitution, this practice would probably be in it. If you’ve got a bit of yesterday’s rare fillet of beef hanging around, just asking to be slapped into a sandwich with some horseradish, that’s one thing, but stringy cold pork or lamb, with their revolting layer of chalky congealed fat, is quite another.
Sunday lunch in our household also involved using every single dish, pot and pan in the house, swiftly followed by my brothers and I arguing over whose turn it was to help Dad with the washing up. The traditional Sunday lunch ritual is not, therefore, one that I feel should necessarily be upheld, but if you like an occasional roast dinner and there are only one or two of you, the washing up and the inevitable leftovers can be avoided.
I have only recently discovered the answer – roast dinner cooked in a large sauté pan, or a sturdy roasting tin that you can use on the hob and in the oven. Even with an additional pan of vegetables, that means only two pots to wash up, and not much more than an hour from start to finish. What could be better?
The other advantage is that if you love red meat, but your partner only eats chicken, you can still cook the two side by side in the same pan, as long as you don’t mind sharing the hybrid gravy.
Traditionalists, PLEASE look away now. (And if you want Yorkshire puddings, but don’t want the headache of wondering if they will rise or the additional dishes to wash, please refer to my niece for her superior knowledge regarding the merits of the various components making up the Aunt Bessie range).
I have suggested using peeled main crop potatoes, but unpeeled new potatoes would be delicious here – halve if very large, or leave whole, and proceed in the same way. If you want to keep things really simple, by all means miss out the garlic/herbs etc, just season with salt and pepper.
Roast dinner for one or two
Meat of your choice: I suggest pork chops, lamb chops, chicken joints (on the bone)
Potatoes, as many as you will eat, peeled and cut into chunks for roasting
1 small/medium onion, peeled and halved or quartered (or a few shallots)
Freshly chopped thyme, rosemary or sage (according to your meat)
A few whole cloves of garlic (optional)
A sprinkling of fennel seeds (for pork or chicken)
A little vegetable oil
Stock or boiling water and a stock cube
A splash of wine or sherry
A teaspoon of redcurrant or apple jelly (optional), or a splash of balsamic vinegar
Salt & pepper
Pre-heat your oven to 200C (fan)
Pour a little vegetable oil into your pan or tin, and turn the meat and onions over in the oil. Sprinkle with the herbs and salt and pepper and place in the oven (you don’t need to wait until it is hot – this will give them a head start).
Put the potatoes into a pan with a pinch of salt, cover with water and a lid, and bring to the boil. Turn down the heat and simmer for about 6 minutes. Drain, replace the lid and give them a good shake to fluff up the edges – this helps them to crisp up.
Tip the potatoes into the pan with the meat, toss the potatoes in the hot fat, give the meat a quick baste, and then return to the oven (if you are cooking pork, a quartered apple or pear is a nice addition).
Here’s mine going in to the oven – the pork chops and onions have already had 10 minutes:
Return to the hot oven and cook for around 50 – 60 minutes, depending on how well done you would like your meat, then remove the meat, potatoes and onions (and apple/garlic if using) to a warm plate, and keep warm in the turned-off oven.
At this point, cook your vegetables of choice on the hob in the pan you used for the potatoes (rinse it if there are bits of potato in sticking to it) – if you boil the kettle and add the vegetables to the boiling water, the vegetables will cook in the time it take you to make the gravy. If you are nervous about over-cooking the veg, make the gravy first, it will be quite happy simmering on the stove over the lowest heat.
Place the roasting pan over a medium heat and sprinkle over about a tablespoon of plain flour. Use a whisk to incorporate the flour into the meat juices and then add a good splash of wine or sherry*, whisk again until you have a smooth paste. Gradually add stock or a stock cube dissolved in a little hot water from the kettle, bring to a simmer and keep whisking until the gravy is smooth and you have the consistency you want, adding more water/stock as necessary. Cook over a low flame for a minute or two. If you want to add a small splash of balsamic vinegar, or a little redcurrant or apple jelly for a slightly sweet note, stir in until dissolved – a teaspoon should be enough. Season with salt and pepper.
*If you don’t want to use alcohol, just use all stock.
Here’s the finished article: