Vegetables to go with a Roast Dinner
Vegetables to accompany roast meats…
All but the most ardent carnivores will probably want to include some vegetables as part of a roast dinner. Although a good piece of roast meat will form the centrepiece of the meal, some tasty vegetables are always necessary to really do it justice.
As always, the secret of success begins with quality ingredients. As a minimum standard, try to source organic vegetables although, sadly, this is no longer the assurance of quality that it used to be. If you have the time, the best way to obtain the highest quality, freshest vegetables is to grow your own.
Some of the most classic vegetable accompaniments to roast meats are listed below:
There is much disagreement over the best way to prepare roast potatoes. My favourite method is the one that Jane Grigson recommended in her Vegetable Book:
1. Clean the potatoes and boil in salted water for five minutes. This won’t cook the potatoes, but will soften them.
2. Peel off the skins and, if necessary, cut into suitably-sized pieces.
3. Rough up the surfaces with a fork – this will help the potatoes crisp up when roasted.
4. Heat some lard (or goose fat if available) in a shallow roasting pan so that it melts to give a 1cm (1/2 inch) depth.
5. Turn the potatoes in the lard to ensure that all sides are covered.
6. Roast on the top shelf of the oven (above the meat) for the last 45-50 minutes of the meat’s cooking time. The ideal cooking temperature is 190-200°C (Gas mark 5 to 6) which is slightly higher than the typical meat roasting temperature. For non fan-assisted ovens this problem is overcome because the oven will be hotter at the top
Floury-textured potatoes such as Maris Piper are the best choice for making mashed potato. Preparation is simple:
1. Peel the potatoes
2. Cut into equal-sized chunks
3. Boil until tender (i.e. when they fall off the blade easily when stabbed with a sharp knife)
5. Mash using a potato masher
This would produce a very bland and dry version of mashed potato. For this reason other ingredients are usually added during the mashing stage – these include:
- Olive oil
- Double cream
- Horseradish sauce (go easy with this one)
- Truffle oil (also to be used sparingly)
Mashed Swede (Bashed Neeps)
Mashed swede is a very popular accompaniment to roast meats in the United Kingdom. It is kown as “bashed neeps” in Scotland. Preparation is easy:
1. Peel the swede and cut into equal-sized chunks (approx 2cm or 1-inch cubes)
2. Boil for 20-25 minutes
4. Add a nice big chunk of better and season with pepper
5. Mash using a potato masher
Brussels Sprouts with Chestnuts
Brussels sprouts can taste great as long as you don’t boil them to death. I prefer to steam them as it is much easier to tell when they are “done” and it is supposed to preserve more of the nutrients.
For this recipe, steam 1.5Kg (3.3lbs) of brussels sprouts. Steam them for five minutes and then taste one (if you think it is too hard, leave them for anouther minute or two). When they are done, melt approximately 100g (3.5oz) of butter in a large pan. Then take 250g (9oz) of vacuum-sealed chestnuts, chop them roughly, and add to the melted butter. Finally, add the cooked brussels sprouts, season with salt and pepper, and toss.
Steamed Cabbage with Bacon
This is great with roast chicken or turkey. Make sure you use a Savoy Cabbage.
1. Fry 200g of dry-cured smoked streaky bacon in a large saucepan until crisp
2. Add a whole savoy cabbage cut into strips
3. Stir the cabbage into the bacon until covered in bacon fat
4. Add 50 ml boiling water and stir into the bacon/cabbage
5. Put the lid on the pan and leave to steam for five minutes
6. Add the juice of half a lemon and stir