Sunday, 4 January 2009

Cordon Bleugh

I have a guilty, traitorous secret.

I suspect I may be the only person on the British Isles who does not like Roast Dinner.

Perhaps you are currently spending your Sunday flipping through the colour supplements in bed (it's minus four outside so I don't blame you). Go to the first (ish) page, and look for the column where they interview a celebrity of some genre about their Ideal Weekend (both the papers my parents get feature this type of article). Almost certainly, at some point during the interview, the words 'Sunday Roast' will be uttered: probably in conjunction with either of the phrases 'at our local pub' or 'with the parents'.

Please. Where is your imagination? After a good fortnight of rich, stodgy food, even the hardiest carnivores must by now be unable to stomach another slice of ropey grey beef or a sweaty sliver of damp chicken breast. Even the Christmas turkey had strings of something twisty running through the flesh.

Then, there are the roast potatoes: traditionally the only bit of a Sunday dinner that anyone actually likes (unless you live in the north, in which case, include Yorkshire puddings - a surprising hit with my French flatmate in Bath). Should you take your life and the health of your arteries in your hands and use lard? Traditionally it's the best fat for the job, but in the wrong hands can result in waxy insides and burnt skins (on the potatoes, of course). Do you go for the trendy option and add olive oil, rosemary and garlic?* Used with the wrong potatoes, this can result in clammy skins and half-baked flesh (on the potatoes, of course). Oh and it makes your kitchen smell like the back room of Mario's Trattoria, for the next 24 hours.
Goose fat is a new (or re-?) entry on the market, popular with the Nigella generation (likes posh ingredients, has less middle class guilt than the Extra Vergine crowd). It comes in a tiny jar with a silver label and the leftovers will sit in the fridge for the next six months like your Sunday Best, growing fur and waiting for another special occasion.
The safest option is to pop down to Iceland for the pre-roasted frozen version, and, if you have guests, burn the packaging.

Vegetables are really best forgotten. The cooking time of the joint itself requires such feats of mental arithmatic that whoever is acting as unfortunate chef for the day can spare few brain cells for greenery. The result is anaemic, overboiled greens, beans and carrots.
Parsnips are the only salvagable part of this sorry collection, largely because when roasted they pretty much count as potatoes, but with a higher Glycaemic Index**.

Sprouts are a Christmas treat unique to our Island. How I long - all year - for the day I can eat my fill of sprouts. That peculiar bitter aftertaste - sourish, with a note of earwax - the damply enticing dark green leaves, the elusive, slightly composted smell, hinting at digestive sensations yet to come.
Only in Britain could a population so relentlessly indulge in the ritual self-flagellation of eating sprouts.

No, the only decent thing to come out of the Sunday Roast is the preliminary thimbleful of Harvey's Bristol Cream (preceded by the words: 'I'll just get a sherry for Granny'), and Pudding.

Cut out the rest, and Sunday Lunch is a haze of boozy, cheescakey*** bliss.


Back to the vegetable soup and couscous then...


* I admit I have been known - on rare occasions - to serve diced potatoes prepared in this manner to deserving boyfriends. Deserving... make that very rare occasions.
** This is bad if you are on a diet, but I can't remember why. It may or may not have something to do with the Stock Market (for vegetable stock... geddit?).
***see 'Nigella generation' comment above. Marbled with 70% dark chocolate. It took us four days to eat it.

10 comments:

Aidan said...

My dad cooked ham joints in coke for a while after Nigella. That woman has a lot to answer for.

pinolona said...

Yeah but she gets men cooking.
Ok, she gets men reading cookbooks.
Ok, she gets men buying cookbooks.

Fair point.

Mr Growbag said...

From this post I get the impression that you just haven't had enough good roast dinners...

Mmm... slices of rose-coloured beef with those nice dark crispy and crunchy outside bits...

pinolona said...

ok, ok, I admit, I may have had the occasional roast dinner that I really enjoyed. But this rant came on a particularly awful grey beef day after two weeks of Christmas lard-guzzling - my point is it's not as special as everyone thinks it is. Maybe one really fantastic one twice a month is better than two or three dodgy roasts per week.

Of course if you're volunteering to show me how it should be done...

Are you still going ahead with that Tatra Fun Trip by the way?

joel said...

heretic heretic heretic.... burn the witch!

A proper roast (in addition to the delicious meaty goodness) should include:

special ingredient (yorkshires, stuffing, little pigs in blankets etc), something in a cheese sauce (mmmm, leeks), something orange and mashed, something green and leafy, some carrots and pea type stock vegetables, perhaps another interesting leaf (mmm, red cabbage braised in orange juice), a really tasty vegetable-y gravy, hopefully two types of potatoes

that's my bare minimum

pinolona said...

Wow! that's not a roast dinner, that's half a greengrocer's...

I'm with you on the red cabbage, surowki, yummy!

Jake said...

Sorry, the only thing I can agree about is sprouts - nearly as bad as Polish carp!

Other than that, a well-cooked roast dinner is heaven!

Amélie said...

OMG Flic! You talk about me :) Yes I loved Yorkshire pudding, don't you? I must admit they're more difficult to find here and I haven't tried to bake some (even if I bought a tin on purpose in the Pound Shop in Bath ;))
Anyway, I like your prose and I'm looking forward to reading you again!

Mr Growbag said...

Tatra Fun is definitely going ahead, yes. We've got a map and a guidebook and everything. Hopefully will be booking flights pretty soon. I'm excited about it already and it's not until August!

Was this entire post actually a carefully crafted piece of reverse psychology angling for Sunday Lunch invitations? What a great idea! I must attempt the same thing on my blog. Maybe "Why I REALLY hate Central European cookery..." Come on, show me how to make those rubbish bread dumplings taste good (drool) ;)

pinolona said...

Jake: damn right, anything that's fished out of a paddling pool by a babcia with a net is a Bad Idea...

Amelie: hee hee yes you're famous now! Thanks for reading! You know you can make Yorkshire pud at home? except I don't know how, I'm a bit of a crap Rosbif...

Mr Growbag: aha by August I may be ailleurs... still, BA flights LGW to KRK are cheap at the moment and you get free peanuts and beer plus a Whole Extra Suitcase!

Damn, busted! (the next installment will be entitled 'Why filet mignon and fresh truffles finished off with chocolate fudge cake dessert and lashings of limoncello is Really Crap' go on, prove me wrong!).