Tuesday 22 October 2019

Sunday funday: Rachel Allen's secret to a perfect roast dinner

 

Roast stuffed loin of pork with  crackling and apple Sauce
Roast stuffed loin of pork with  crackling and apple Sauce
Apples

Autumn memories are made of Sunday roasts, says Rachel Allen, who shares comforting classics .

Sunday lunches take on a whole new meaning for me once autumn hits. The cosy, comforting Sunday roast is one of the food memories I treasure most from my childhood, and indeed still love today. A really good piece of meat, cooked to perfection, with roast or mashed potatoes, great veggies and sauces. Simple and old-fashioned, but hard to beat in my book.

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 For the roast loin of pork, pictured here, if you want to be able to stuff and roll it then you’ll need to ask your butcher to leave the piece long enough — about 30cm long, going down to the belly. If the piece has already been cut and isn’t long enough to roll, then just cook it as it is, sitting scored skin-side-up on the roasting tray. Served with delicious vegetables and lots of apple sauce, it’ll be divine.

Do make sure, if possible, to buy pork that still has the skin attached, as this is what turns into crispy crackling once cooked, and prevents the meat from drying out in the oven. If it’s belly of pork that you’re after, then score it and roast it in the same way, sitting flat, skin-side-up in the tray. Do try and buy the best quality pork possible, with a good thick layer of fat between the skin and the meat for the most delicious result.

After roasting, don’t forget to rest the meat somewhere warm for at least 15 minutes, as this will ensure the most succulent and juicy result.

So often, my spud of choice is buttery mashed potatoes. There are times when nothing else will do. For the best mashed potato, use a floury variety, such as Golden Wonder or Kerr’s Pink. To get maximum goodness and flavour, it’s best to peel them after boiling (floury potatoes tend to disintegrate if you peel them before boiling). If you make your mash in advance, add a little extra milk, so it doesn’t dry out as it sits. Covered, it will keep for an hour or so in a warm oven.

 Apple sauce, the classic accompaniment to roast pork, is as easy as pie to make. If you have a glut of apples at this time of the year, make lots of it and freeze it in batches. If you’re cooking sweet eating apples and aren’t using any sugar, then it also makes a great food to mix with other things for babies. Now that’s a meal for all the family.

 

It’s really important if you’re stuffing meat but not cooking it immediately, to use stuffing that is cool, so make sure to let the stuffing chill if preparing the meat in advance.

 

In season: Apples

2019-09-22_lif_53087034_I1.JPG
Apples
 

At this time of the year, we have delicious Irish apple varieties to hand. If you want to omit the sugar from your apple sauce, use an eating apple instead. It might take a few more minutes to cook, but it’ll still be great. Add some sweet geranium or sage leaves to the sauce if you fancy.

 

Rachel's top tip

To make your own fresh white breadcrumbs, cut off the crusts from your bread (it can be gluten-free), place in a food processor or  blender and whiz till almost fine. Leave the crusts on  if you prefer.

 

 

Apple sauce

Serves 6-8

You will need:

450g cooking apples, like Bramley Seedling - or use eating apples, see In Season

2 tablespoons water

50g sugar approx, depending on tartness of the apples

1 Peel, quarter and core the apples.

2 Cut the quarters in two and put in a saucepan, with the water and the sugar, over a low heat for about 10 minutes, until the apple pieces are tender and fluffy. Stir and taste for sweetness. Serve warm.

 

Roast stuffed loin of pork with  crackling and apple Sauce

Serves 6-8

You will need:

1.75kg loin of pork (no bones) with the skin still on

Sea salt

For the stuffing, you will need:

45g butter

75g finely chopped onion

Salt and freshly ground pepper

100g soft white breadcrumbs, see Tip

2 tablespoons chopped herbs (such as parsley mixed with thyme, chives, marjoram, sage or rosemary)

For the gravy, you will need:

600ml chicken stock

Salt and pepper

 

1 Preheat the oven to 190°C, 375°F, Gas 5.

2 Score the skin at 5mm intervals, running from the eye of the meat down to the belly, using a very sharp knife or blade - let your butcher do this if you like, as the skin can be quite tough.

3 Next make the stuffing. Place the butter in a saucepan over a medium heat and melt till foaming. Add the onions, season with salt and pepper. Turn the heat down to low and cover with a lid, cooking the onions gently for 8-10 minutes until completely softened.

4 Add the breadcrumbs and the chopped herbs. Taste for seasoning, and tip out on to a plate to cool before stuffing the meat.

5 Have some roasting string to hand, and scissors. Now, place the pork skin-side down on the work top and sprinkle with salt and freshly ground pepper. Spread the stuffing over the meat, pressing it down to make it compact, and roll up tightly, trying to keep all the stuffing inside. Tie at intervals, about 4cms apart, with string, and place it sitting upright on the roasting tray, with the join underneath. Season the rind with salt and place in the preheated oven. Roast, allowing 30 minutes for every 500g in weight (including the weight of the stuffing). Baste every 15 minutes or so.

6 Just before the end of cooking time, remove the pork to another roasting tin, keeping all the juices in the first roasting tray. Replace the joint in the centre of the oven and turn up the temperature to very hot - 230°C, 450°F, Gas 8 - to get crisp crackling.

7 When the joint is cooked, the juices should run clear. Put the pork onto a warm carving plate and allow to rest in a warm oven, at about 50°C, 120°F, Gas ½ while you make the gravy in the original roasting tin.

8 To make the gravy, remove the fat from the tray, keeping all good juices inside. Place the tray on a hob over a medium heat and add the chicken stock, whisking the bottom of the tray to de-glaze the pan. Bring to the boil and boil for a few minutes until it has strengthened in flavour. Season to taste. More chopped herbs may be added to the gravy. Reheat the gravy to serve.

9 Carve between the lines of crackling and serve with hot gravy.

 

Buttery mashed potatoes

Serves 6-8

You will need:

1.5kg floury potatoes (unpeeled), scrubbed clean

Salt and freshly ground black pepper

200ml milk, or half milk and half cream

50g butter

1 Fill a large saucepan with water, then add the potatoes and a good pinch of salt. Bring to the boil and boil for 10 minutes, then pour all but about 4cm of the water out of the pan and continue to cook the potatoes on a very low heat. (Don't be tempted to stick a knife into them as the skins will break and they will disintegrate.)

2 Continue to cook for another 20-30 minutes until a skewer goes in easily. Drain the potatoes, peel while they are still hot and put into a bowl to mash immediately by hand, or use the paddle attachment in an electric food mixer, until they are free of lumps.

3 Bring the milk, or milk and cream, whichever you're using, to the boil in a small saucepan. Add most of the butter and some salt and pepper to the potatoes. Add the boiling liquid and stir to a smooth consistency. You might not need all the milk/cream, or you might need a little more - it depends on how dry the potatoes are. Taste for seasoning. Serve immediately or place in a warm serving bowl with the remaining butter sitting in the centre. Cover with a plate and keep warm if not eating straightaway.

Sunday lunches take on a whole new meaning for me once autumn hits. The cosy, comforting Sunday roast is one of the food memories I treasure most from my childhood, and indeed still love today. A really good piece of meat, cooked to perfection, with roast or mashed potatoes, great veggies and sauces. Simple and old-fashioned, but hard to beat in my book.

For the roast loin of pork, pictured here, if you want to be able to stuff and roll it then you'll need to ask your butcher to leave the piece long enough - about 30cm long, going down to the belly. If the piece has already been cut and isn't long enough to roll, then just cook it as it is, sitting scored skin-side-up on the roasting tray. Served with delicious vegetables and lots of apple sauce, it'll be divine.

Do make sure, if possible, to buy pork that still has the skin attached, as this is what turns into crispy crackling once cooked, and prevents the meat from drying out in the oven. If it's belly of pork that you're after, then score it and roast it in the same way, sitting flat, skin-side-up in the tray. Do try and buy the best quality pork possible, with a good thick layer of fat between the skin and the meat for the most delicious result.

After roasting, don't forget to rest the meat somewhere warm for at least 15 minutes, as this will ensure the most succulent and juicy result.

So often, my spud of choice is buttery mashed potatoes. There are times when nothing else will do. For the best mashed potato, use a floury variety, such as Golden Wonder or Kerr's Pink. To get maximum goodness and flavour, it's best to peel them after boiling (floury potatoes tend to disintegrate if you peel them before boiling). If you make your mash in advance, add a little extra milk, so it doesn't dry out as it sits. Covered, it will keep for an hour or so in a warm oven.

Apple sauce, the classic accompaniment to roast pork, is as easy as pie to make. If you have a glut of apples at this time of the year, make lots of it and freeze it in batches. If you're cooking sweet eating apples and aren't using any sugar, then it also makes a great food to mix with other things for babies. Now that's a meal for all the family.

It's really important if you're stuffing meat but not cooking it immediately, to use stuffing that is cool, so make sure to let the stuffing chill if preparing the meat in advance.

Apples At this time of the year, we have delicious Irish apple varieties to hand. If you want to omit the sugar from your apple sauce, use an eating apple instead. It might take a few more minutes to cook, but it'll still be great. Add some sweet geranium or sage leaves to the sauce if you fancy.

To make your own fresh white breadcrumbs, cut off the crusts from your bread (it can be gluten-free), place in a food processor or blender and whiz till almost fine. Leave the crusts on if you prefer.

 

Photography by Tony Gavin

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