Sunday Roast Dinner: It Doesn’t Get More British Than This!

A roast dinner with beef, gravy, roast potatoes, veg, and a Yorkshire pudding
The Holy Grail of English life.

In many respects, our tour through traditional British foods over the last few months has built up to this moment. The Sunday roast dinner.

It combines many comfort foods we’ve already covered, but adds in a dollop of extra comfort by being on every Sunday. Here we go!

What’s a Sunday Roast Dinner?

It’s a traditional British dish consisting of roast meat, roast potatoes, and an assortment of various vegetables and side dishes.

That can include Yorkshire puddings, stuffing, mint sauce, gravy, and Brussels sprouts.

It’s very much a social occasion, think Thanksgiving dinner over in North America and all that. The roast dinner is a chance for family to get together and pretend they don’t hate each other for an hour or so.

And what better way to do that than stuffing food into your face?

It’s a national icon—arguably the quintessential British dish. In 2012, it was voted the second most loved thing about England (Keith Chegwin, presumably, came first).

One of the things about roast dinners is they’re pretty cheap to make.

The choice of meat is the most expensive item, but everything else is low price. So it’s a fairly unifying dish, one which even working class scumbags can enjoy.

But as we detail later in the cooking process, the Sunday roast is actually an enormous amount of work for about 30 minutes of frantic eating.

Is it worth the effort? Well, yes. It’s bloody tasty. Although us Brits do go a bit overboard with the whole thing.

Every Sunday? Not exactly essential. But for some of us, it’s become a total lifestyle.

The History of the Sunday Roast

Now, if you’ve read this blog before you’ll know we’re not rabid nationalists. We’re not particularly patriotic either, we have a grander notion of a united world.

We’re documenting these dishes simply because we’re from England. And it interests us finding out the history of these recipes we’ve eaten for decades.

And one of the striking things about all our research for various dishes is the various roots they have. Most of which aren’t from England.

However, the Sunday roast dinner did originate in England.

After British folks went to church on a Sunday, they’d head off home to have a roast dinner.

Eating a large meal after church is a tradition all over Europe, of course, but roast dinner element is unique to England.

When did it all start? History points to the late 1700s following the industrial revolution.

Families back then would place meat into the oven, head off to church, come home and then put together the various vegetables to go with it.

However, some historians argue the roast dinner dates back even further than that. All the way to medieval times.

This makes sense as you have to think of the lavish banquets the Kings and Queens of the era had, which were akin to roast dinners of today.

And the serfs of the time would also receive the occasional reward of oxen cooked over a spit.

Whatever the origin, it’s clear roast dinners have been around for many generations in England.

And now as a deeply nationalistic country convinced of its exceptionalism, it’s one dish we’d be willing to go to war over. Have at you!

How to Make a Roast Dinner

Gorgeous, hunky, sweet cheeks, top bit of totty Jamie Oliver is here to walk you through the whole roast dinner process.

But this is also a dish we used to make a fair bit in the past. So, we have some awesome experience to dish out here.

You do need a proper kitchen for all of it, which haven’t really had in recent years. That’s why we ain’t been cooking the thing much.

An oven is your friend when it comes to a roast dinner! Use it wisely. You’ll also need various pots and pans to tie in multiple side dishes for the big end dish. Stuff like:

  • Gravy
  • Stuffing
  • Yorkshire puddings
  • Sausages
  • Sprouts

You need to time the above with your roast meat of choice. Most people usually go for a roast chicken, but beef is also an option.

And it’s the roasting bit that takes ages. Two plus hours of basting and roasting in your oven. A 1.5kg chicken at 190C fan in the oven takes about 90 minutes.

The roast potatoes also need to be timed with this, they can take about an hour.

We used to boil them up for 10 minutes or so before sticking them in the oven. A great roast potato really is the shizzles.

Once your roasting is nearing completion, then it’s time to get on with the gravy, parsnips, sprouts, and whatever else you want to garnish the roast dinner with.

And, yes, it’s pretty exhaustive the lot of it.

As we mentioned earlier, it’s well worth the effort. And makes for a fitting family meal. Or gluttonous session for yourself!

6 comments

  1. Surely one of most delicious comfort food dinners.
    Here, grandma stayed home from church and cooked this huge dinner and grandpa brought home half the service attendees including the minister. Wouldn’t dream of questioning Jamie but slicing the thighs is different. You’d think it would make the meat dry. Jamie, sigh.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Roast dinner is (was) also a staple in NZ – again, usually on Sundays and for the same reason as in Britain. That was back when we were more British than anybody in Britain, and certainly a lot more British than the Australians. Things have changed since. Based on the way some teenagers were talking on the train the other day, I suspect we’ve become 98.5% Californian.

    Liked by 1 person

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