Monday, 5 November 2012

Sunday Dinner

There would be your meat in the roaster.

I’m not really sure what it is about Sundays, but they really make me want to cook. And I love the Traditional Sunday Dinner. I’m talking about a roast of some sort, either a roast chicken or roast beef, with some delicious vegetables and of course some variety of potato. If you went to my Newfoundlander grandmother’s house for Sunday dinner, this meant canned peas, sliced carrots, mashed potatoes, Bisto gravy and a roast that had been in the oven since noon. (She believes in well-done meat.) It’s a little different at Mummy’s house, where Sunday roast usually meant a roast chicken with flour gravy (so yummy), still sliced carrots (but DEFINITELY not any peas- Mummy hates them!) and either roasted or mashed potatoes. Now, my father’s clan believes in meat that can still breathe practically, so Sunday dinner at Daddy’s house is a roasted prime rib with Yorkshire pudding (have you ever tried to make those? Damn difficult), roasted potatoes and some level of veg. All different, all delicious, and all wonderfully nostalgic for me.

That is some well-rested meat. 
Daddy would be so proud! 
Despite being a woman of the new millennium, I still love my Sunday Dinners. Maybe, when I “have it all” in the traditional sense (you know, screeching children, careers, etc.) the last thing I will want to do it cook a huge dinner on a Sunday. But- my mother, a single mother, who “had it all” still pretty much always made a Sunday Dinner. This meal could certainly become an exploration of my feminist identity, but let’s not read too much into that, because at the end of the day, cooking is fun, eating is more fun, and having a lunch for the next three days makes life so much simpler!

My Sunday Dinner is a little of the family influence, and a little of my own creation. The menu for this Sunday was prime rib (because Loblaw’s had a sale- this is not a roast for a girl on a budget), roasted fingerling potatoes with rosemary and garlic, butternut squash with brown butter and sage, and steamed snow peas (because something has to be light). The joy of cooking on Sunday is that you can crack an ale, watch some football, and take all day to cook. So don’t stress about the menu, even though it sounds wonderfully complicated and sophisticated, because it is not.

That is a rib bone in the pot- boil in water overnight to make beef broth!
First things first. You need to cook your meat properly. The general rule of thumb for a medium rare (a.k.a ideal) roast is 20 minutes per pound plus 20 minutes over at 375°. Then it must rest for 15-20 more minutes. Resting is crucial because it allows the juices to redistribute in the meat, and it will be a like a dried out lump of clay if you slice into it immediately. (Doesn’t that bring back memories of the overcooked turkey scene in Christmas Vacation? That movie has been on my mind all week.) You can start the meat for the first twenty minutes at a higher heat and then turn it down to really get a nice crust on it. Start by preheating your oven, and then season your meat. I like black pepper, garlic powder and dry mustard (this is the Reid style, but you may have your own rub you like, which is fine.) In your roaster, either make a rack of celery and carrots, or place your roast on a metal rack. Place the potatoes and either garlic cloves or pearl onions around it. Give everything a nice drizzle of olive oil and put some fresh rosemary all about the potatoes. Fingerling potatoes are lovely and heirloom looking; and they don’t need to be peeled. I hate peeling potatoes, so I almost always go for a ruby red or fingerling variety. Good for you- that’s all set up and ready to go. Once your oven is hot, in it goes. Just a little splash of water in the pan keeps everything from burning.

Pre-roasted squash
You don’t have to do anything for about twenty minutes now except prep (but don’t forget to turn down that oven if you started with it hotter than 375). That roasted squash will take some time to roast, so I would advise you to get those started. I have told you before, and I will tell you again, unless you are a strong person who is great with a knife, just buy pre-peeled and cut squash. I promise you it is worth the extra two dollars because all your fingers will be intact by the end of the meal. Put it in a roasting dish with olive oil, salt, pepper, just a touch of sugar, and some chopped fresh sage. Put that in about an hour before you are ready to eat. Give yourself ten minutes before you are ready to eat to toast the pine nuts and brown your butter, and then pour that mixture on the squash for the last ten minutes in the oven. You toast nuts by putting them in a frying pan and watching them like a hawk while they are on medium heat. They will burn quickly so you really do need to keep an eye on it. Browning butter is much the same in that you put a glob of it in a pan, and then watch it while it turns a nice golden colour. Then get it off the heat because you are only seconds away from burnt butter, which does not taste delicious at all.
And post-roasted squash

And that is what I call Sunday Dinner! 
Finally, your snow peas can be steamed fifteen minutes before you serve dinner. Remember to calculate the standing time for the roast when you are thinking about your cooking times here. You may want to start the peas after you take the roast out. Once you take out the roast, tent it with tinfoil and let it rest. Get your veggies good to go and then right before you serve, slice the roast, very thinly. It will be a lovely pink inside and I promise, so tender. People who like more well done meat (I am such a meat snob, I will raise my eyebrow to that) can eat the outer bits, and it will get rarer as you move inwards. Serve your potatoes right out of the roasting pan. Horseradish would be amazing- I didn’t have any in my fridge last night and if my father knew that, he would have a conniption. I hope you enjoy your Sunday Dinner- serve with a dash of nostalgia and a little smugness about how well you cook a roast! 

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