Roast dinner 21.3.16

Some people think that because they’re by themselves, they can’t enjoy a nice roast dinner. I’m not talking about steak, or pork chop – I mean the whole chicken or pork joint roast.
Well, it’s difficult to go through the rigmarole of cooking a roast dinner for yourself, but if you look at it from the point of view that you’re actually saving yourself time and money later on, the whole process becomes easier.


 

The roasts.

I’m a bit of a purist when it comes to pork, literally a sprinkle of salt on the fat to get a crisp crackling, 30 mins at about 200 Celsius (uncovered) then 30min per 500g covered. Comes out crisp and juicy every time.

Chicken, now, to save yourself even more effort you can just buy a cook in the bag chicken. Lidl and Aldi seem to do a decent range in these chickens. Myself? I like to get a lemon, slit it (not cut it up) and fill the slits with thyme and stuff it inside the chicken. Then I like to mix some olive oil, more thyme and garlic (paste) and put that mixture mostly under the skin of the chicken, but rubbing it all over works too (don’t forget the legs!).

I like to make a big pan of rustic mashed potatoes. These are unpeeled potatoes (washed if needed) boiled till tender, butter, salt, pepper. Mash. Add a touch of milk to bind and you get a nice smooth mashed potato.

Vegetables. These are the one thing, that unless I know I’m going to eat later in the week I won’t bother buying lots. I hate wasting food and having half a pack of green beans quietly rotting in the fridge makes me sad. I usually buy a small pack of mixed vegetables, for example asparagus and broccoli that I can just throw in the pan. In fact, to save water and washing up I usually put them in the same pan as the potatoes if there’s room – obviously for not as long, but the last five minutes or so.

Yorkshire puddings. I’m from Yorkshire and was taught to love and make these from a young age. They’re easy to make, just make English pancake batter (I know what you Americans are like with your fluffy pancakes) so, two eggs, about the same amount of milk and add plain flour until it makes a runny batter. Add some fat or spray some oil into a hot metal cupcake tray or cake pan or if you want a really big one a roasting tray. Add batter, return to oven, and remove when on the pale side of golden brown. Don’t be upset if they don’t look like aunt Bessie’s, the three generations of Yorkshire ladies I grew up with didn’t have them like that either!


 

Leftovers

Yorkshire pudding batter:

Mini Yorkshire puddings: Use a metal (not silicone) muffin or cupcake tray, hot fat or oil and cook at the same time as you’re cooking your roasts. With a bit of leftover gravy these mini’s cold are a really nice, filling snack.

Yorkshire pudding….pudding: After making the savoury Yorkshires you want, mix some sugar into the remaining batter and cook as above. Serve warm with ice cream and syrups.

Pancakes: It’s the same batter, save it for the morning and you’ve got it ready to go and make pancakes! Cook in a frying pan rather than the oven and they’ll come out flat. I like to have these with lemon and sugar.

Mashed potato.

What doesn’t mashed potato go with? Okay, right, fair enough it’s not good with ice cream and other desserts – you got me.

But seriously, I like to just reheat it, mix in some peas, little bit of gravy – delicious.
Some people like to form it into little cakes and fry it off in a pan, go for it if you like that kind of thing.

Chicken and pork

Okay, I’ve put the chicken and pork in the same category, mainly because I do the same thing with them. However, I don’t usually get pork joints with bones so I don’t get to make pork stock often. What I’m talking about here is chicken stock. Any leftover chicken meat I also freeze, for some reason I never seem to have any pork left to freeze…

Chicken stock
– a really big pan
– a sieve
– A large jug
– A few hours spare
– Skin and bones from a leftover chicken
– Two brown onions
– Two sticks of celery
– A carrot
– salt and pepper
– 2 bay leaves

Optional
– Silicon muffin tray

Okay, chicken stock isn’t hard per-say but it does take a while to do. Luckily you don’t have to stand and watch it exactly. Add the bones and skin to the stock pot, slice the onions in half and add (don’t worry about peeling them), snap the celery and add, snap the carrot and add. Half fill the pan with hot water. Add the bay leaves and some salt and pepper. Bring the whole lot to a boil and then leave to simmer for two to three hours on a very low heat.

This gets all the flavour and fats out of the chicken and ingredients.

Carefully pour the contents into the sieve over the large jug. You should get a brownish yellow liquid. You don’t want anything other than liquid in the jug. When the sieve has stopped dripping put it somewhere to cool* (I usually put my sieve in the sink in case there are more drippings). Wash out your pan in case there are any bits lingering and then pour the stock back into the pan.

Taste, add any salt and pepper you think you need and then bring to the boil again and simmer until it’s reduced by half.

I usually then pour it back into the jug and leave it to cool. Then I pour it into the muffin tray and pop into the freezer. Then, I can use it whenever I want!

Chicken spaghetti soup. Take two ‘pucks’ of chicken stock (or six tablespoons), two glasses of water, boil a handful of pasta in the mixture until tender, add some sweetcorn and cooked chicken if you have it -perfect if you’re feeling coldy.

Fajitas: Chop your meat (chicken or pork) into strips and add to a hot oiled pan. Slice an onion into strips, and a red and yellow bell pepper. Add the onion to the pan with the meat until the meat is heated through and add fajita spice. I have a confession to make here…I don’t make my own fajita spice. I bought a MASSIVE jar from COSTCO about two years ago and am still using it, must have saved me a fortune in tiny packet mixes. Anyway. Mix in your chosen spices and then add the peppers. The peppers won’t need long as you still want the crunch, perhaps 5 minutes. Whilst that’s cooking zap some wraps for about 30 seconds in the microwave and prepare any extras like salsa or cheese etc you want. These are also great for lunch the next day; just make sure to pack the fajita mixture and wraps away from one another.

Stir fry: Cut your meat into bite size chunks and put to one side. I am so not above buying a packet of stir fry veg from the supermarket as it cuts down on prep time, but if you like to do your own there are lots of suggestions online. I have a wok that was given to my parents when they got married; no one else in my family eats stir fry so I ended up with it. So, keep your cooking implement of choice oiled and when it’s hot add the meat until it’s cooked through. I like to add the stir fry sauce here, usually I’ll buy one from the supermarket but sometimes a slug of soy sauce or sweet chilli sauce is all you really want. After the meats hot I add the veg. Keep everything moving or it will stick, you don’t want that! When you’re happy with how cooked the veg is (crunchy or not so crunchy, that is the question) add your noodles and heat until they’re cooked. This is also good cold for lunch the next day.

So, depending on what you wanted your Sunday roast could feed you for several extra meals (lunches and dinners).


Shopping list:

(for a Sunday roast chicken, stir fry, fajitas, soup)

– Large chicken    -Mashing potatoes    – Some green veg      -plain flour
-2 eggs                   – milk
– Celery                  – 4 onions                     – 1 carrot                    -bay leaves
– Stir fry vegetables     -stir fry sauce     -egg or rice noodles
– Fajita spices       – wraps                          -optional extras       -red and yellow bell pepper
– Tin of sweetcorn   – pasta

I hope you find this post useful it went on a bit longer than I intended! – any tips yourself? Please comment and say hi below.

*Try not to put hot things in the bin as it forms condensation in the bin that can encourage mold growth (ew)

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