Easter is almost upon us (where is this year going?!), and for me, traditionally Easter Sunday lunch will always have been a roast leg of our homegrown lamb. British lamb is in season right now meaning it is the perfect time to enjoy it, and it’s a great dish to share with friends because it looks and tastes impressive, but is actually quite easy really (ssshh!!).
When HomeSense asked if I wanted to work with them on something for Easter, the perfect roast lamb was the first thing that came to my mind. I was also badly in need of some new roasting tins, so this seemed like fate. I found a huge range at the Leeds (Birstall) store, so much so I was in there about an hour choosing. I’ve told you before (in my Easter bunny biscuit post actually – great time to be making those as well!) how much I love HomeSense for amazing quality homewares at really great prices (and I would say that even if I weren’t working with them…), and it definitely didn’t disappoint on this occasion.
Another thing I love about them (excuse me while I go off on a little aside here) is that they support some really great charities. You may have seen the snazzy Rankin dog aprons for Red Nose Day that they supported, and at the moment the seriously on-trend Tribal Treasures range available in both stores is helping children from disadvantaged families in Uganda to go to school. Since the scheme started in 2011 they have helped more than 10,000 children. Amazing bargains with an ethical feel good factor – what more could you want?
Perfect roast lamb I hear you say! Okay, I will get on with it.
The Secret to a Perfect Roast
Now, the secret to a great roast is not really cooking skills, you mostly just bung things in the oven and let them take care of themselves. The secret is good timing. Getting it so that your Yorkshires and roasties are spot on at the same time your meat is nicely rested and your veggies and gravy are ready is no easy task and it does take a bit of maths and planning. My method to working it all out is to first work out the time your meat needs to cook, based on weight. If you buy from a supermarket the label will have the weight on it (and often helpfully a cooking time, but I do tend to double check always) and if you buy from a butcher they can tell you the weight if it’s not on the label. Then simply input the weight (and how you would like the meat cooked for lamb, beef or venison) into this super handy BBC roasting guide tool, to work out your cooking time.
Add 20-30 mins resting time to the cooking time, and count backwards from when you want to eat. So say I have a 1h 30 min leg of lamb and I want to eat at 7pm, I would take it out to rest at 6.30pm, and put it in the oven at 5pm. Roast potatoes should go into the oven (having been parboiled for 10 mins) an hour before you want to eat, at the same temperature as your meat, so I would put my potatoes in at 6pm. Yorkshire puddings, if you are having them*, should go into the oven after your roast comes out so you can turn the heat right up, so put the oil in to heat up at 6.30pm (and put your veg on depending on what you’re having) and put the Yorkshires in at 6.40pm. Then start making the gravy, and everything should all be ready more or less bang on a couple of minutes before you’re ready to eat at 7pm.
*Personally I was brought up to only have Yorkshire puddings with Roast Beef, but many people I come across have Yorkshires with any type of roast, my husband included, so now we always have them whatever we are having. So, you know, just include them if you have them with everything, or omit if you’re a traditionalist like me (and to be honest, I am not the greatest fan of them either – I’ll have an extra roast potato instead any day!).
The Perfect Roast Lamb
Basically, just follow the timings above and you’ll be fine. However, the seasoning is pretty crucial for lamb, and my favourite combination which tastes amazing is garlic and rosemary. You can faff about poking it all in under the skin, which is great and it does flavour the meat nicely, but I find it is equally as tasty and much much easier to just create a nice rub for the skin.
If you leave out the garlic and rosemary then this formula works for every roast. In fact, the garlic and rosemary tastes great on chicken too though! But for most, just olive oil, salt and pepper will do nicely, unless you’re doing pork and want crackling, in which case it is crucial to deeply score the fat first, and put it in the oven for the first 20 mins at the highest temperature possible and then turn it down for the rest of the cooking time.
- Take the meat out of the fridge one hour before you want to start cooking and allow to rest. Preheat the oven to 180 C/160 C fan/Gas mark 4.
- Trim any excess fat from the lamb using a sharp knife, and score what is left to help it crisp up.
- Peel 5 -8 cloves of garlic (depending on their size), and add them to a pestle and mortar. Strip two rosemary stalks, chop the rosemary roughly, and add to the mortar. Grind in some sea salt and black pepper, add a good glug of olive oil, and mash together well.
- Rub the mixture well into the skin of the lamb all over, and place in an oven tray and on the top shelf of the oven.
- Leave to cook for the required cooking time, and allow to stand 20-30 minutes before carving, covered with some tin foil.
The Perfect Roast Potatoes
A disappointing roast potato can ruin a Sunday lunch – they should be lovely and soft in the middle, and crunchy on the outside. Armadilloes, if you will! (UK joke, probably only appreciated by those in their thirties, sorry) Use this foolproof method with some nice roasting potatoes (King Edwards or Maris Piper) and you can’t go wrong, though to be honest I’ve used most kinds of potatoes and they always turn out fine.
- Peel about 2 potatoes per person (depending on size), and cut them into chunks.
- Boil a pan of lightly salted water, and add the potatoes and cook for ten minutes.
- Drain the potatoes, and in the colander bash them about a bit so the edges are fluffed up.
- Leave to cool.
- Remove your lamb from the oven, pour any juices in the pan into the potato tray. Add the leaves from a spring of rosemary and a glug of oil and grind of sea salt. Heat in the oven for five minutes, then remove and carefully add your potatoes, stirring so they are covered in oil.
- Roast in the oven for 1 hour. Check them when you take your roast out – if they are nearly done remove them to another oven at this point, as the oven will be turned up for the Yorkshires and you can’t open the door to rescue them if they start to get overdone! If you don’t have two ovens, cover them with tinfoil and put them somewhere warm.
The Perfect Yorkshire Pudding
Living in Yorkshire I feel I ought to use a local recipe, but my Mum’s always works best so this is it. A glass oven door is very helpful for this – can’t wait for my new kitchen so I can have one and ensure my Yorkshires are exactly right before I open the oven door. If you don’t have one, trial and error will teach you the time your oven takes to get them perfect.
- Whisk together 150ml milk, 1 egg, and 115g plain flour, add in a generous grind of salt and pepper and whisk a bit more. Turn the oven up to 220 C/200 C fan/ Gas mark 7.
- Add a drizzle of oil to the bottom of each hole in a 12 cup deep muffin tin. Put this in the oven for ten minutes to heat up.
- When the oil is hot, quickly ladle some mixture into each hole, using up all of the mixture. It will usually be about half full, you don’t want it almost overflowing.
- Put the Yorkshires in the oven for 15-20 minutes, keeping an eye on when they are risen and brown at which point they are done, but don’t open the oven door until they are!
The Perfect Gravy
I always use the meat juices and only resort to Bisto if there aren’t many juices or if you’re catering for a big crowd and need lots of gravy. It means your gravy always complements the meat exactly if you use the juices. If there is a lot of excess fat in the roast pan, strain some of this off before you start.
- Stir the meat juices left in the roasting tin until they are combined. Add a spoonful of flour at a time, until you have absorbed all the juices and have an almost-paste consistency.
- Add in a splash of boiling water (or stock if preferred) and stir until absorbed. Repeat this process many times until your gravy has a liquid consistency. Do not be tempted to add a lot of water at once, it makes it difficult to stir in and you end up with lumpy gravy!
- Once the consistency is runny, keep stirring until it begins to thicken, at which point you can add a little more water. Repeat this process until your gravy is the desired thickness.
- Add plenty of seasoning, and pour into a warmed gravy jug ready to serve immediately.
Let me know if you decide to try this method for your perfect roast, I know I have tested it many a time and it always turns out pretty darn good if I do say so myself, but I learnt from the best, my Mum and Grandma do the best roasts ever. One day mine will be on a par with theirs, maybe. For now, this usually makes people pretty happy and I can definitely live with that.
So, what do you think: Yorkshire puds with every type of roast, or just with beef? Or should I steer away from such important and divisive questions?!
Bookmark this post for next time you fancy a roast and want to try it yourself.
P.S. For those of you worrying about me drinking prosecco while pregnant, this is actually Sainsburys’ Alcohol Free Sparkling Wine, and very tasty it is too!
Disclaimer: HomeSense provided me with a gift card to purchase the roasting tins used in this post. All positive opinions about HomeSense are my own though! See my Disclosure page for more details.