Roasting up a meal for a wintry weekend afternoon is a traditional joy. But to shake things up, why not look past the usual ...
The typical Sunday roast was a tradition I grew up with: arriving at my grandparents on time wearing ones best clothes; sitting down to a carefully set table featuring the best linen, dinner set and cutlery; saying grace and remembering to use one's manners. Such pressure could take the focus away from the food but not for me. I could sit up straight, keep my elbows off the table and remember to leave my cutlery straight - whatever it took to get seconds!
I always remember lamb or beef being served, plenty of vegetables and a glorious amount of silky gravy poured from the gleaming silver gravy boat. This was the 70s, and by the 80s chicken began to appear on occasion. My paternal grandmother had passed and some of the traditions and formality began to wane.
These days the extended family gather for a Sunday roast - especially one in the middle of the day - only on a rare occasion, but that is no reason to let this typical Kiwi meal fade into a distant memory. Selaks National Roast Day (this Sunday 5 Aug) is in its third year of encouraging everyone to take time out to celebrate honest good food with family and friends.
A traditional definition of the word "roast" means a meal where roast meat is served. But a variety of ingredients can be roasted, such as vegetables, fish and fruit. Today I have thrown the traditional options aside and am using hapuku, goat and fruit.
When roasting fish, you need to choose a variety with thick, firm flesh. Hapuku is perfect and remains juicy in the centre. Ask to keep the skin on and learn to perfect the technique of crisping the skin before putting the fillets in the oven. The skin tastes delicious and provides fantastic texture to the dish.
A goat leg is easily available from Halal butchers (see tip below) and can be prepared in the same way as lamb. It is a delicious meat and very lean and benefits from cooking slowly until the meat is very tender and flavoursome.
Roasting fruit is a great way to enjoy winter fruits. The result is full of flavour with syrupy juices, very simple to prepare and a great dessert to follow a hearty main.
So gather the friends and family round the table for a roast and spend some time enjoying down-to-earth food, good wine and plenty of conversation - and don't forget your manners!
The term halal refers to meat that has been slaughtered in a way that limits pain and suffering as much as possible. The Qu'ran teaches Muslims that all animals should be treated with respect and be well looked after.
What do you think of roast dinners? What sort of foods do you like to include?