Sunday roast

A Sunday roast is a traditional British and Irish meal that is typically served on Sunday, consisting of roasted meat, roast potatoes and accompaniments such as Yorkshire pudding, stuffing, gravy, and condiments such as apple sauce, mint sauce, or redcurrant jelly. A wide range of vegetables can be served as part of a roast dinner, such as broccoli, Brussels sprouts, carrots, cauliflower, parsnips, or peas, which can be boiled, steamed, or roasted alongside the meat and potatoes.

The Sunday roast's prominence in British culture is such that in a UK poll in 2012 it was ranked second in a list of things people love about Britain.[1] Other names for this meal include Sunday lunch, Sunday dinner, roast dinner, and full roast. The meal is often comparable to a less grand version of a traditional Christmas dinner.

Besides being served in its original homelands, the tradition of a Sunday roast lunch or dinner has been a major influence on food cultures in the English-speaking world, particularly in Australia, Canada, South Africa, the United States, and New Zealand. A South African Sunday roast normally comprises roast pork, beef, lamb or chicken, roast potatoes, pumpkin fritters, Yorkshire pudding, and various vegetables like cauliflower-broccoli cheese, creamed spinach, mashed or roasted butternut squash, green beans, carrots, peas, fresh corn, beetroot, and sweet potato. It is also fairly common to serve rice and gravy in South Africa instead of Yorkshire pudding.

The Sunday Roast originated in the British Isles as a meal to be eaten after church on Sunday. Eating a large meal following church services is common to most of Europe, but the Sunday Roast variant developed unique to the British Isles. On Sundays, all types of meat and dairy produce are allowed to be eaten; this is unlike Fridays, where many Roman Catholics and Anglicans traditionally abstain from eating meats, so ate fish instead.[2] Likewise, it is traditional for Anglicans and English Catholics to fast before Sunday services, with a larger meal to break the fast afterwards. These religious rules created several traditional dishes in the United Kingdom.

There are two historical points on the origins of the modern Sunday Roast. In the late 1700s, during the industrial revolution in the United Kingdom, families would place a cut of meat into the oven as they got ready for church. They would then add in vegetables such as potatoes, turnips and parsnips before going to church on a Sunday morning. When they returned from the church, the dinner was all but ready. The juices from the meat and vegetables were used to make a stock or gravy to pour on top of the dinner.[3] The second opinion holds that the Sunday Roast dates back to medieval times, when the village serfs served the squire for six days a week. Then, on the Sunday, after the morning church service, serfs would assemble in a field and practise their battle techniques and were rewarded with a feast of oxen roasted on a spit.[4]

A Sunday Roast with roast lamb, roast potatoes, carrots, green beans and Yorkshire pudding
A Sunday roast with roast beef ribs, roast potatoes, various vegetables and Yorkshire pudding

Typical meats used for a Sunday roast are chicken, lamb, pork, or roast beef, although seasonally duck, goose, gammon, turkey, or (rarely) other game birds may be used.[5]

Sunday Roasts can be served with a range of boiled, steamed and/or roasted vegetables. The vegetables served vary seasonally and regionally, but will usually include roast potatoes, roasted in meat dripping or vegetable oil, and also gravy made from juices released by the roasting meat, perhaps supplemented by one or more stock cubes, gravy browning/thickening, roux or corn flour.

The potatoes can be cooked around the meat itself, absorbing the juices and fat directly (as in a traditional Cornish under-roast).[6] However, many cooks prefer to cook the potatoes and the Yorkshire pudding in a hotter oven than that used for the joint and so remove the meat beforehand to rest and "settle" in a warm place.[7]

Other vegetable dishes served with roast dinner can include mashed swede or turnips, roast parsnips, boiled or steamed cabbage, broccoli, green beans, and boiled carrots and peas. It is also not uncommon for leftover composite vegetable dishes—such as cauliflower cheese and stewed red cabbage to be served alongside the more usual assortment of plainly-cooked seasonal vegetables.

Leftover food from the Sunday Roast has traditionally formed the basis of meals served on other days of the week. For example, meats might be used as sandwich fillings, roast beef may be chopped up with leftover roasted potatoes and some additional onion and then fried in a pan with oil and desired seasonings until somewhat crispy to make roast beef hash, lamb might be used in the filling for a shepherd's pie, and vegetables might form the basis for bubble and squeak and in Scotland for the traditional stovies.

In the UK, many pubs serving food have a Sunday menu that features a Sunday roast, usually with a variety of meats.