Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near. Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

Philippians 4:4-7

30 March 2010

The Year of the Roast - 30th March 2010

I have a friend who lives in a suburb where the blocks aren't square and the roads don't run east to west, north to south.  Her suburb features windy streets, cul-de-sacs and loop roads squiggling all over the place.  For one as directionally challenged as myself, it is next to impossible to navigate.  I go to her house quite frequently.  During the first year after she moved I had to check the street directory EVERY time before I left home and most times I would still end up getting lost.  One day she gave a me a piece of vital information. 

"When you reach the reserve, turn right.  And then it is the first left after that."

It's easy.  I go there now and I can't actually imagine HOW I managed to get lost.  It's almost embarrassing.  One piece of vital information was all I needed.

What has that got to do with The Year of the Roast?  Well, tonight I have experienced a similar phenomenon.  I cooked a roast.  And it was a snap.  And I can't actually imagine why I have thought this is a difficult thing to do for all these years!  It just took one piece of vital information...Sharon's advice to par-boil the vegies.

I decided to take the plunge when I was planning out the meals for the week last Saturday.  I looked in my diary to see what lay ahead for the week - when the evening meetings were on, when there were visitors, needing to factor in the evening when we are late from swimming and so on - to find that today is Passover.  So what better day than to cook a lamb roast.


1.5kg of lamb spiked with rosemary and rubbed with olive oil, sea salt and garlic, ready for the oven. 

One and a half hours at 160 to 180 degrees C.


Potatoes, pumpkin and carrots ready for par-boiling.


Par-boiled vegies in the baking tray with the meat.  Into the oven.

Husband on standby to look after the boys at 6pm when peas need to be cooked, gravy made and meat carved.


Knife stuck into side of meat.  Juices NOT running clear.  Don't panic.  Stay calm.

And I did.  It's OK.  It is my husband's day off.  There are no meetings for anyone to attend tonight.  The boys are big enough that if tea is a bit late it isn't going to ruin everyone's evening. 

Diagnosis of problem...temperature may be a little low but probably the oven rack is too low.  Move the oven rack up and boost the temperature a bit.


Juices still not running clear.  And we like our lamb cooked.
Still not panicking.  Clear-headed enough to make the decision to finish it off in the microwave for ten minutes.


Meat cooked and resting.  Vegies cooked and keeping warm.  Peas in the microwave.  Gravy on the go.


Carving the meat.  Boys beginning to show signs that they need to be fed and put to bed.


Dinner served.  Only an hour late...but not feeling stressed.

Dinner in Review

First up, everyone enjoyed dinner! 

In some ways it felt like a lot of time in the kitchen but that is probably because I am used to the "preparation to table in 30 minutes or less" routine.  And when I think about it, while it took two and a half hours to cook, I managed to supervise homework, prepare some fiddly props for tomorrow's Scripture lesson, write the text for this post as it was happening, do bath time for the boys and do various other jobs all while it was in the oven.  So in reality, it's not all that labour intensive.  Mind you, washing up is a bit labour intensive.

I think the slower than expected cooking time will correct itself with better placement in the oven.

Tonight's feast fed our family of four with leftover meat and only a couple of extra-to-requirement vegies.  The big aim is to be able to put on a roast for lunch after church.  (I figure I can dash home straight after church, turn on the oven, go back to church to chat and things will be all ready at a respectable time with par-boiled vegies and the baking tray higher in the oven.)  But there was no more room in the baking tray.  It's not the biggest of baking trays.  I think I could fit a bigger tray in the oven so I will need to go and find one of those.  And if I do a rolled roast rather than a leg of lamb, that would leave more room for vegies.  (And it would be easier to carve!!)

We had gravy made with gravy powder, although I did mix some pan juices into it.  I think in the absence of a sous chef, this is probably as good as it will get although the option is always there, if everything ran exraordinarily to plan, for real gravy made from scratch.  And if it isn't running to plan, the Gravox will be there!

Roast dinners seem within reach.  And it turned out to be a meal that everyone in this house enjoyed - a very rare occurrence.  So the next thing to do is try the rolled roast and then to get some sympathetic people over from church one Sunday for an attempt at the Sunday lunch thing.

I'll keep you posted. 


Mrs. Edwards said...

I loved reading this! I've never made a lamb roast, just beef or pork roast (or poultry, which is a bit different). I grew up having beef pot roast after church on Sunday. Mom put the roast in when we left for church and let it slow cook in the oven all morning. In those days she had a pressure cooker, so when we came home she cooked a pot of cubed potatoes and chopped carrots. These days we throw the potatoes and carrots (and celery and onions) in with the meat and water.

All that to say: I grew up often making the gravy. We skimmed off some fat from the meat liquid (we usually cook a beef roast in some water, plus meat juice is added as it cooks), browned it with a couple of tablespoons of flour, and slowly added liquid from the roast pan.

We are back eating Sunday dinner after church with my parents and my sister and her family and I often have the gravy job. Sometimes we start with butter and flour, sometimes we use beef stock from the store rather than pan juices, and sometimes we are forced to add cornstarch if it just doesn't cooperate and thicken enough.

Meredith said...

I grew up making the gravy too, as I have mentioned previously, which is why it pains me to use Gravox. But there are so many minutes and so many hands available to do a lot of jobs just at the end. Shall just need to train the boys in the art of gravy making and pass on the family tradition to the next generation. When they are a little bit older.

mattnbec said...

In case it helps for next time, I find the following formula works well for both lamb and beef: I start the oven at 220 deg and then reduce to 180 deg. I allow about 20 minutes/450g plus 20-25 minutes. I allow a bit less if I'm aiming for rare and bit more if well-done is the plan. The extra heat at the beginning crisps the skin up. I also reckon it's better to allow a bit too much time for the meat because it needs to rest at the end to let the meat relax.

Meredith said...

Thanks Bec. (Or Matt??) That is a quite different formula and one I will try next time. About how long at the higher temperature before you turn it down?

mattnbec said...

Sorry - it was Bec.

Leave it at 220 deg for 15 minutes or so. And on reflection, I suspect 20 mins/450g will still result in a rare-ish roast. If you want it well done, I'd go for closer to 25-30 minutes/450g.

The one I often end up with needing to cook for longer than I expect is a whole chicken. Last time we ended up cutting it in quarters and doing the microwave trick for that.

Cathy McKay said...

THanks Meredith, you inspired a roast at our place on Thursday night and it was fabulous.mmm!

Meredith said...

Thanks Bec. I figured it was you but one can never be sure when it comes to cooking with the two of you. The 30 minute idea sounds better for the likes us who like our roasts less on the rare side. But the blast of heat at the beginning makes good sense. Shall be giving that a go soon!

Cathy - glad you had a great roast too. Sounds as though you have had a great Easter. I hope you have been refreshed and encouraged from your weekend's events.


Sharon said...

Glad the vegies worked out!

It seems like Bec has read the same "How to cook a perfect roast every time" page from Family Circle magazine that I read. Maybe I should photocopy it and send it to you. Bec's formula is pretty much mine as well, although FYI I would do the roast at the higher temp at the beginning for half an hour if it was a pork roast.

Jeff cooked a roast lamb and Betty (my MIL) cooked roast vegies for our late Passover (we had it Saturday night so the grandparents could join us) and they were sumptious. The only thing that went wrong was that I had put on the potatoes to boil a little early and forgot to tend them until Betty noticed they had almost dissolved, so we had potato mash instead of roast potatoes. Which wasn't a real problem, since the solution was easy. But it's something to be warned of if you plan to try this par-boiling thing again.


Meredith said...

Thanks Sharon. You and Bec have both been very helpful in helping me out with this one. There is some tweeking to do but I won't be writing roasts off as impossible anymore. In fact I am sure they will become frequent fare in our household. Roasts are particularly good I think for feeding a crowd as most people are happy to eat them and they are really very economical. So thank you for helping me to conquer this dragon!