Our 10 best roast dinner centrepiece recipes | Roasts: A handbook (2024)

The showstopper: Porchetta

Buy the very best pork you can afford – ask your butcher to prepare you a boneless porchetta cut or a rectangular piece of pork belly and a loin. Fennel pollen is traditionally foraged, but expensive to buy. If you can’t find it, use ground fennel seeds instead. Bear in mind that the seasoned porchetta must rest for at least 12 hours, then return to room temperature before roasting.

Serves 6-8
3-4kg porchetta joint
1 tsp black peppercorns, crushed
1 tsp dried chilli flakes
2 tbsp rosemary, chopped
2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
1 tbsp fennel pollen or ground seeds

1 Put the pork skin-side down on a clean work surface, season generously with salt, then massage the salt into the flesh with your fingertips. Sprinkle with pepper, chilli, rosemary, garlic and fennel. If you are using a loin, place it on the belly about 5cm from one end. Neatly roll up the meat as tightly as possible. Tie it at 2cm intervals with kitchen twine. Prick it all over with the tip of a very sharp knife. Cover the pork, first with greaseproof paper, then with foil, and leave it to rest for at least 12 hours in the fridge.

2 Remove it from fridge at least 1 hour before roasting and preheat the oven to 160C/325F/gas mark 3. Use a clean, dry, cloth to pat the meat very dry. Put it on a rack over a large baking tray, then roast in the middle of the oven for 4½ hours. For the 30 minutes, crank the oven up to maximum to crisp the skin, so that it almost ruptures into deep golden crackling. The meat inside will be soft and succulent.

3 Leave the meat to rest, uncovered, for at least 30 minutes before eating.
Rachel Roddy, Five Quarters (Saltyard)

The not nut roast: Chestnut and shallot tarte tatin

Times have changed from the days when the only veggie option was a nut roast. This gleaming beauty – with its sticky shallots and creamy chestnut filling – will have even the most ardent meat eaters after a slice. Cut into generous wedges and serve alongside all the usual sides.

Serves 4-6
500g shallots
25g butter
1 tbsp light-flavoured oil
2 tbsp balsamic vinegar
∫ tsp caster sugar
25g dried cranberries, roughly chopped
250g tinned chestnuts
1 tbsp sage, finely chopped
320g ready-rolled puff pastry

1 Cover the shallots with warm water: this will help loosen the skin and make the next task far more pleasurable. Peel the shallots, then cut them in half.

2 Melt the butter and oil in a heavy, oven-safe frying pan. When the butter is bubbling, add the shallots. Cook, stirring frequently, for 10 minutes, or until golden and starting to soften. Add the balsamic vinegar, sugar, cranberries and chestnuts, along with 2 tbsp of water and plenty of salt and pepper. Cook for 5 minutes then set aside to cool.

3 Heat oven to 200C/400F/gas mark 6. Now that the shallot mixture has cooled, arrange them in the pan so that it looks pretty – remember the pan will be inverted, so these will be what you see when you turn out your tatin. Sprinkle the sage over the top of the shallots and chestnuts, as well as a little more seasoning.

4 Unroll the pastry and lay it over the pan. Use a sharp knife to cut around the edge of the pan so that the pastry is slightly larger than the edge, then tuck the pastry inside of the pan over the shallots and chestnuts.

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5 Bake for 30 minutes, until the pastry has turned golden and risen. Leave to cool for a few minutes, then place your serving plate over the top of the pan and invert the whole thing. If any of the filling remains in the pan scoop it out and patch it up before serving.
Rosie Reynolds, rosiereynolds.co.uk

The alternative animal: Roasted young goat leg with pancetta, lemon and thyme

Goat is a delicious, interesting meat with a definite floral note. It’s quite lean and needs a bit of extra fat to lubricate and baste during cooking – pancetta or lardo are ideal.

Serves 6
1 young goat leg, on the bone (about 2.5kg)
100g pancetta strips
1 small bunch thyme
3 small unwaxed lemons, 1 cut in half
Salt and black pepper
Olive oil, for cooking
2 onions, cut in half
3 garlic bulbs, cut in half
1 glass red wine
About 500ml lamb or chicken stock

1 Preheat the oven to 230C/450F/gas mark 8. Put the onions, cut lemon and garlic cut-side down in a roasting pan, then scatter half the thyme on top. Drizzle the leg with olive oil, season liberally. Zest and juice the remaining lemons and massage into the leg. Place the leg on top of the onions, lemon and garlic in the roasting tray.

2 Pick the leaves off the remaining thyme. Sprinkle over the leg. Evenly layer the pancetta strips from the top to bottom of the goat so it is fully covered.

3 Roast the leg for 30 minutes, until it starts to caramelise and the pancetta has crisped and rendered. Turn the oven down to 180C/350F/gas mark 4 and cook for a further 45 minutes. The leg should still be juicy and pink. Cook for a further 25 minutes for well done.

4 Transfer the leg to a warm spot to rest, then make the sauce. Remove any fat from the roasting pan, then pour in the wine. Set over a hob. Reduce the wine, deglazing the base of the tray as you go. When the wine has almost evaporated, pour in the stock and add the resting juices from the goat leg. Slowly reduce the gravy to a saucy consistency, strain through a sieve and keep warm.

5 Carve the leg and transfer to a platter or plate, then spoon over the gravy.
Ben Tish, Salt Yard

The Mexican bird: Chipotle roast chicken

The sweet, smoky warmth of the Mexican chipotle chilli works well with the buttery flesh and crispy skin of a roast chicken

Serves 4
1kg whole chicken
2 chipotle chillies, or 2 tbsp chipotle paste or salsa
Juice of ∫ a lime
1 tbsp fish sauce
1 tbsp maple syrup
1 tbsp rapeseed or olive oil
2 garlic cloves

1 If using whole chillies, rehydrate them in a bowl of boiling water for 10–15 minutes, until soft. Blitz all the ingredients (except the chicken) together and smother the marinade all over the chicken, rubbing it into the skin. Marinate the chicken for at least 2 hours, or overnight in the fridge.

2 Preheat the oven to 180C/350F/gas mark 4, then bring the chicken up to room temperature by taking it out of the fridge 30 minutes before cooking.

3 Put the chicken on a roasting tray, then transfer it to the oven for 1 hour, removing it to baste it in the juices twice. After an hour, remove it from the oven and leave it to rest under some foil. Drain the juices from the pan, skim off and discard any excess fat, then transfer the juices to a bowl or jug, to serve with the chicken.
Rosie Birkett, A Lot on Her Plate (Hardie Grant)

The spiced chook: Roast chicken with chorizo and butternut squash

This is a great roast to do when in a hurry. Smoky Spanish ingredients and roasted butternut seeds gives a unique flavour and crunchy finish to the dish.

Our 10 best roast dinner centrepiece recipes | Roasts: A handbook (1)

Serves 4
1 medium butternut squash
350g chorizo, cut into 25mm chunks
4 red onions, peeled and quartered
1 garlic head, broken up
10 thyme sprigs, leaves picked
5 sprigs of rosemary, leaves picked
1 tbsp smoked paprika
1 tbsp cumin
1 tbsp black pepper
1.5kg whole chicken
1 bunch of parsley
2 tbsp rapeseed oil

For the seeds
Rapeseed oil

1 Preheat the oven to 180C/350F/gas mark 4. Cut the butternut squash in half and scoop out the seeds. Set aside for later. Cut the squash into 25mm slices and place on a roasting tray.

2 Add the remaining ingredients, except the chicken and parsley, to the tray. Shuffle them around with your hands, so that everything gets evenly coated in the herbs, spices and oil.

3 Lightly oil and salt the skin of the chicken. Lay it on the vegetables, breast-side down. Roast in the oven for 30 minutes, then flip the chicken over so it is breast-side up and roast for a further 55 minutes, or until the chicken in cooked through. Stir the vegetables every so often, so they cook evenly.

4 Meanwhile, separate the butternut squash seeds from any pith. Drizzle the seeds with a little oil and salt, mix well, then roast on a tray in the oven for 15 minutes. Set aside to cool.

5 Put the chicken on a plate to rest. Chop up the parsley and mix it into the vegetables and chorizo, reserving a handful of herbs to garnish the dish. Transfer to a serving bowl. Carve the chicken, arrange the pieces on top of the vegetables. Pour over any pan juices over the top of the meat and sprinkle with roasted seeds and parsley.
Alex Bluett, Friska

The worth-the-wait: Overnight beef rump

In this recipe, the oven is set super-low so the meat is cooked incredibly gently for 8 hours, yielding an extremely soft, falling-apart flesh that you could carve with a spoon. A digital temperature probe is essential.

Serve 8-10
4-5kg beef rump
Beef dripping
Fine sea salt

1 The night before you want to eat this dish, take the meat out of the fridge so it can reach room temperature. Set your oven to the lowest setting. You are aiming for the internal temperature of the oven to run at around 50C/122F. (Most domestic ovens can be set no lower than 60C/140F, so if this is the case, you will need to prop the oven door open a tiny bit). A knife sharpening steel and some gaffer tape are quite useful for this, but you can exercise your own Heath Robinson-esque creativity. If your oven doesn’t have an accurate thermometer built in, then you can check the temperature by putting a jam jar filled with water at the back of the oven, and use your temperature probe to to check the temperature of the water.

2 Put the beef on a rack over a large roasting tray, and put it in the oven. Close or prop the door ajar, and go to bed. You’ll probably be extremely anxious that the beef will overcook, but as long as you have set the oven is set to 50C, the beef will be rare and delicious in the morning.

3 When you get up, check the internal temperature of the beef with a thermometer. Hopefully, it’ll be in the mid-to-high 40s. If it’s lower than that, you might need to notch the temperature up a little. You want the meat to reach 50C/122F. About an hour or so before you want to eat, take the meat out. Leave the beef wrapped in tin foil in a warm spot until you are ready to serve.

4 Just before serving, heat some beef dripping in a very hot frying pan or roasting dish, season the meat all over with sea salt, then sear the outside of the rump all over. Slice it as thinly as you can, and serve with hot gravy and plenty of horseradish sauce and some crispy roast potatoes.
Nicholas Balfe, Salon

The go-to: Roast rack of lamb

Succulent and juicy, this is perfect served with copious amounts of salsa verde and sweet, roasted beetroot.

Serves 4-5
2 racks of lamb, weighing about 650g each (about 7 cutlets per rack)
Salt and black pepper
1 tbsp olive oil

1 Take the lamb out of the fridge and leave for 30 minutes, so they can come to room temperature. Preheat the oven to 180C/350F/gas mark 4.

2 Season the racks all over with salt and pepper. Heat the oil in a heavy-based ovenproof pan. When it reaches a medium heat, put the racks in with the fat side facing down. Brown gently for a few minutes, rendering some of the fat down. Pour this off, then put the pan into the oven, leaving the rack fat side down, for 15 minutes, or until the tip of a slim, sharp knife comes out warm to your lip when you spear the meat. Or, if using a temperature gauge, when it reads 50C/122F (for medium rare). Leave to rest on a board, covered loosely with foil, for at least 15 minutes. Then carve the cutlets and pile them up in a bowl.

3 If all this makes a crazy amount of smoke in the kitchen, and fire alarms go off, change tack and heat the heavy-bottomed pan in the oven at 200C/400F/gas mark 6, then put the rack in fat side down (you don’t need the oil for this method) for 5 minutes. Then turn the oven down to 180C/350F/gas mark 4 and cook as above.
Margot Henderson, You’re All Invited (Penguin Fig Tree)

The glazed slab: Pork belly with cumin seeds and sherry vinegar-quince glaze

Puffed, crisp crackling is the glory of roasted pork belly. It can be hit-and-miss to get right, but two simple steps will bring you closer to the ultimate result. First, ask your butcher to score the rind in 1cm intervals so that it gets maximum puff. Drying out the skin is next – and the most important step. Place it on a rack, unwrapped, in the refrigerator 24 hours before cooking.

Serves 6
2 tsp cumin seeds, slightly crushed
1 tsp smoked paprika
2kg pork belly with rind, scored
3 tsp sea salt
2 onions, thickly sliced

For the glaze
1 tbsp olive oil
2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
75g membrillo (quince) paste
125ml sherry vinegar
50g soft brown sugar
1 tsp chilli flakes
125ml water

1 The day before cooking, place the scored belly on a rack, set over a roasting dish. Refrigerate (ideally) for 24 hours, to dry out the skin as much as possible.

2 When ready to cook, preheat the oven to 240C/475F/gas mark 9. Rub the meat side of the pork belly with the spices. Spread the onion slices across the bottom of a shallow roasting tin. Put the meat on top, skin-side up. Sprinkle with sea salt, then roast on the middle shelf of the oven for 30 minutes. Reduce the oven temperature to 160C/325F/gas mark 3 and cook for another 2 hours, or until the meat is tender.

3 Raise the temperature to 220C/425F/gas mark 7 and cook for another 30 minutes, or until the crackling has puffed up and gone crisp. Let the meat rest for at least 10 minutes, loosely covered in foil.

4 While the meat is cooking, make the glaze. Heat the oil in a small saucepan over low heat. Add the garlic and stir for 2 minutes, or until light golden. Add the membrillo and stir until melted, then add the vinegar and simmer for 2 minutes, or until reduced. Add the sugar, chilli flakes, a pinch of salt and the water. Simmer for 5 minutes or until syrupy, then take off the heat.

5 Serve the meat in thick slices with a bowl of the sauce to pass around to drizzle with.
Jennifer Joyce, jenniferjoyce.co.uk

Our 10 best roast dinner centrepiece recipes | Roasts: A handbook (2)

The fish option: Whole baked sea bass with fennel and preserved lemon

This fish centrepiece will add a fresh dimension to your roast. Preserved lemons have an evocative flavour – they can be bought in any delicatessen or international supermarket.into kilner jars with course salt, a couple of birds eye chillies, some bay leaves, cinnamon sticks, cardamom, coriander, a star anise and a few fennel seeds and top up with lemon juice. Seal the jars and leave them for a few weeks, months if possible. When you come to use them, rinse them, scrape off and discard the pulpy flesh and use just the soft, aromatic peel.

Serves 4
2 whole medium (or one large) sea bass
2 preserved lemons
1 fennel bulb
2 bay leaves
5 garlic cloves, cut into halves
1 shallot, thinly sliced
2 slices of lemon
½ tsp fennel seeds
Juice of half a lemon or 1 tbsp moscatel vinegar
A small handful of flat-leaf parsley
Olive oil
Salt and black pepper

1 Descale and gut the fish, then rinse the cavity before you cook it. Preheat the oven to 160C/325F/gas mark 3.

2 Trim the base of the fennel and cut it in half vertically. Very thinly slice one of the halves horizonally, using a mandolin if you have one.

3 Season the cavity of the fish with a little olive oil, salt and pepper. Stuff the cavity with half the fennel shavings, half the shallot, 2 garlic cloves, a bay leaf, a lemon slice and half the fennel seeds.

4 Oil the skin of the fish, season with salt and pepper and place on a large piece of oiled tin foil. Pull the ends together over the fish, sealing gently and making sure to leave a little space around the fish. Place on a baking tray and put in the middle of the oven for 25-30 minutes. Leave in the foil out of the oven for a few minutes before serving.

5 Meanwhile, finely chop the preserved lemon peel, the remaining fennel and the remaining garlic clove. Combine them all in a bowl, then add lemon juice or moscatel to taste. Chop and add the parsley and thin with olive oil to spooning consistency.
Oliver Rowe, @OliverRowe

The fragrant joint: Mechouia-style leg of lamb

While mechouia refers to the art of roasting a whole lamb, the mechouia style has often been adapted for Western menus – in this case, you slow-roast a joint of lamb, but use the same traditional cumin dipping salt at the end to season every bite.

Serves 8
2.5kg leg of lamb on the bone
50g butter, softened
2 tbsp ground coriander
1 tbsp ground cumin
1 tbsp cumin seeds
2 tsp paprika
1 tsp cayenne pepper
1 tsp dried thyme
4 garlic cloves, crushed and peeled
1 tbsp sea salt, crushed
Black pepper

For the dip
2 tbsp cumin seeds
2 tbsp crushed sea salt
A pinch of ground cinnamon

1 Preheat the oven to 150C/300F/gas mark 2. Line a large roasting tin with nonstick baking paper.

2 Using a sharp knife, carefully make deep incisions all over the lamb leg so that it can absorb as much of the marinade flavouring as possible.

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3 Put the butter into a small bowl, add the dry spices, thyme and crushed garlic and blend thoroughly until the mixture forms a paste. Rub this paste all over the leg of lamb, pushing it into the incisions. Put the lamb leg on to the prepared roasting tin and roast for 5 hours, basting the lamb with its juices every 20–30 minutes or so to ensure it stays moist and hydrated.

4 Once cooked, remove the lamb from the oven, cover it with kitchen foil and allow the meat to rest for 15 minutes.

5 Meanwhile, make the dipping salt. Put the cumin seeds in a dry frying pan over a medium-high heat and toast, shaking the pan now and then, until they release an aroma, then grind with a pestle and mortar. Combine the ground cumin seeds with the sea salt and cinnamon and put the mix in a small dish for dipping the meat into.

6 Serve the rested lamb leg on a platter.

by Sabrina Ghayour Mitchell Beazley)

Our 10 best roast dinner centrepiece recipes | Roasts: A handbook (2024)


What is the best meat for a roast dinner? ›

Best Beef Cuts for Oven Roasting
  • Tenderloin Roast. The most tender beef roast that is well known for being lean and succulent. ...
  • Tri-Tip Roast. Boneless and fairly tender with full flavor. ...
  • Top Sirloin Petite Roast. ...
  • Bottom Round Roast. ...
  • Eye of Round Roast. ...
  • Sirloin Tip Roast. ...
  • Top Round Roast. ...
  • Ribeye Roast.

What are the most popular items on a Sunday roast? ›

The five most important roast items, and the percentage of the British public who selected them, are:
  • Gravy - 97%
  • Roast Potatoes - 94%
  • Meat - 84%
  • Yorkshire Puddings - 84%
  • Carrots - 81%

What should a roast dinner have? ›

Although it can be consumed throughout the week, it is traditionally consumed on Sunday. It consists of roasted meat, roasted potatoes, mashed potatoes and accompaniments such as Yorkshire pudding, stuffing, gravy, and condiments such as apple sauce, mint sauce, or redcurrant sauce.

What cut of beef for Sunday roast? ›

For roasts, the best cuts include rib (on the bone or boned and rolled), sirloin, top rump and fillet. For quick cooking, try fillet, entrecôte, rib eye, sirloin or rump steaks. Brisket, topside and silverside are good for pot roasts, and stewing and braising steak are good for stews and casseroles.

What cut of beef makes the most tender roast? ›

Tenderloin. The most tender roast of all—it's under the spine— with almost no fat or flavor. It's tapered in shape, the middle being the "center cut." The labor involved and waste produced in trimming and tying a tenderloin drives up the price. Top sirloin roast.

What cut of roast has the best flavor? ›

The Rib-Eye Roast is the boneless center cut of the rib section. Very well-marbled, tender and flavorful, it is the most desirable and the most expensive of the roasts.

What makes a good Sunday roast? ›

"For me, the three key elements of a perfect Sunday roast are potatoes, Yorkshire pudding, and cauliflower cheese. For the perfect potatoes always go for starchy ones: King Edwards are my favourite. I tend to steam them rather than boil, and then let them dry, then bash and cook them with beef fat and sunflower oil.

How do you elevate a roast dinner? ›

Elevate your roast dinner by roasting your potatoes in hot beef dripping with garlic, rosemary, thyme and butter.

What is the best and most tender roast? ›

The Chateaubriand beef tenderloin roast is considered to be the most tender cut of beef for a roast. This cut of beef comes from the loin area of the cow, which is right below the backbone, behind the rib section and in front of the sirloin section.

What is a classic roast dinner? ›

Sunday roast, or roast dinner, is a traditional British meal of roasted meat, potatoes, and accompaniments like Yorkshire pudding, vegetables, stuffing, gravy, and various condiments depending on the meat.

What time should a roast dinner be served? ›

Some Sunday roast revelations from the poll are as follows: A Sunday Roast should be served at exactly 3:15pm in the afternoon. Necessities are three slices of beef, four roast potatoes and gravy all over the plate, but not drowning the food is a must.

What are five foods suitable for roasting? ›

Roasting can be applied to a wide variety of meat. In general, it works best for cooking whole chickens, turkey, and leaner cuts of lamb, pork, and beef. The aim is to highlight the flavor of the meat itself rather than a sauce or stew, as it is done in braising or other moist-heat methods.

Is it better to cook a roast at 325 or 350? ›

When roasting meat and poultry, set the oven temperature to 325°F (163°C) or higher. Explore the charts below to learn how to get great results every time you cook.

Should you sear beef before roasting? ›

It's not really necessary to sear your roast before cooking, but caramelizing the surface gives the cut an incredible depth of flavor, enhanced with the complex layers of nutty caramel and coffee-like bitterness that meat-lovers find delicious.

Should you cover beef with foil when roasting? ›

When cooking a roast in the oven, keep it uncovered until roasted to the desired doneness. After removing from the oven, tent with foil and let stand 15 minutes before carving. This allows the juices to redistribute, preventing them from draining out during carving—and preventing dry, disappointing meat.

What meat is better than chuck roast? ›

Flat iron steak is an extremely tender, grill-ready cut. It's more marbled with fat than a chuck roast or short ribs, and doesn't require slow cooking. In fact, a flat iron steak is best when grilled quickly over high heat. This tender Blue Cheese Flat Iron Steak is drool-worthy!

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