British Sunday Roast
A traditional British roast or “roasty” is a dinner that is customarily served on Sunday afternoon but can be eaten any day of the week. This meal goes by other names such as Sunday dinner, Sunday lunch, Roast dinner, and Sunday joint (joint referring specifically to the joint of meat). A Sunday roast menu typically consists of roasted meat, roasted potatoes with accompaniments such as Yorkshire pudding, stuffing, vegetables, and gravy made from the meat drippings.
Best Part of a Roasty
In many cultures, people enjoy that big Sunday meal, characteristically, after attending some sort of Sunday service. Given our Italian heritage, it was the big pasta meal complete with meatballs and sausages. This hefty meal resulted in an inevitable food coma, perfect for a lazy Sunday afternoon.
Likewise, Britons enjoy their Sunday roast after attending church services or just as a big midday meal. The best part of a British Sunday roast is the Yorkshire pudding! Read on to find out more about those fluffy golden jewels.
Sunday Roast Origins and Menus
You’re probably wondering how this English mealtime tradition got started, right? For some it was due to religious practices, others it was practicality and ease, or a way to earn a truly decent meal for the week.
- Christian Heritage –This repast is common to Europe and other countries with a Christian heritage. It is traditional for Anglicans and English Catholics to abstain from meat (except for fish) or fast before Sunday services, with the large Sunday roast to break the fast.
- Industrial Revolution – One possible origin of the Sunday roast developed during the Industrial Revolution, where Yorkshire families left a joint of meat in the oven before going to church on a Sunday morning. Their “roasty” was ready to eat when they arrived home afterwards. Brilliant!
- Medieval Times – This possible origin is one that dates back to medieval times. After the village serfs had served the squire for six days a week, they would attend Sunday morning church service and then assemble in a field to practice their battle techniques. These vassals were rewarded with a feast of oxen roasted on a spit. No doubt the best meal they had for the week.
Sunday Roast Menus
Depending on the meat being served, aside from the customary trimmings, there are particular accompaniments for each kind of Sunday roast.
- Meat – Traditional meats found on a British Sunday plate are roast beef, chicken, lamb or pork, although seasonally, duck, goose, gammon or turkey is featured.
- Vegetables – The meat is served with a range of boiled, steamed and/or roasted vegetables which include roast potatoes, roasted in meat drippings or vegetable oil, mashed swede (turnip), roast parsnip, boiled or steamed cabbage, broccoli, green beans, and boiled peas and carrots.
- Yorkshire Pudding – This complement is the most delightful savory popover you’ll ever put in your mouth. It has the texture of a cream puff, slathered with the luscious brown gravy made from the drippings of roasted beef.
- Sunday Roast Types – Various meats are paired with these traditional accompaniments in addition to the roasted potatoes and vegetables.
- Beef — Yorkshire pudding, suet pudding, English mustard, or horseradish sauce. This is the preferred meal served for Sunday roast.
- Pork — Crackling, sage-and-onion stuffing, apple sauce or English mustard.
- Lamb — Mint sauce or jelly or redcurrant jelly.
- Chicken — Pigs in blankets, sausages or sausage meat, stuffing, bread sauce, cranberry sauce or redcurrant jelly
Leftovers, Nut Roast, and Carvery
This is how Britons make use of their Sunday roast leftovers and they’re pretty darn tasty, let me tell you. However, if you detest cooking, you can always dine out for your Sunday roast, minus the leftovers.
- Shepherd’s Pie – A scrumptious savory pie made of diced cooked lamb, peas, carrots, onions, and stock flavored with tomato paste, Worcestershire sauce, and red wine then topped with creamy mashed potatoes and cooked in the oven until golden brown and bubbling.
- Bubble and Squeak – Made from any leftover Sunday roast vegetables. These veggies are finely chopped and added to butter-sautéed onions to warm them through. The reheated veggies are added to mashed potatoes, mixed with flour, seasoned with salt and pepper then made into patties and fried up golden brown.
- Nut Roast – A rich and savory vegetarian alternative consisting of nuts, grains, vegetable oils, broth or butter, and seasonings formed into a firm loaf shape or placed in a long casserole dish before roasting.
- Carvery – At restaurants roasted meat is freshly sliced to order for patrons, sometimes offering unlimited servings for a fixed price. Often found in pubs and hotels, and commonly offered on weekends, when Sunday roasts draw large numbers of people.
Your Sunday Roast Experience
Have you had a traditional British Sunday Roast? What’s your favorite part of the meal? Eager to try one? Click the red links above for “how to” videos!