It's official. London's favourite dish is a roast dinner, followed closely by pizza and spaghetti bolognese.
Tesco have released some research as part of their Love Every Mouthful campaign which shows that nearly half of all parents admit to sticking to what they know in the kitchen, rather than trying something more adventurous.
I can understand this, with bills going up and up and families tightening their belts, when you have kids to feed it's not always easy to take a risk on something they haven't tried before.
But, the Love Every Mouthful campaign also encourages shoppers to celebrate food in all it's glory, by highlighting fresh, seasonal British ingredients. So, if you're going to make a roast dinner, lets make it the best you possibly can.
We love a Sunday roast in our house (or any other day for that matter), and invariably will chose chicken as we try to limit the amount of red meat we consume. We all have our own particular ways of making a roast, but here are my top tips for the perfect Sunday lunch.
- Buy the highest quality chicken you can afford. We only ever eat free range, but look for organic, free range or RSPCA Freedom Food labels. There's more information on labeling and welfare standards here. We used to keep chickens at home so I know what intelligent creatures they are. I can't bear to think of them being intensively farmed in filthy, over-crowded sheds. You'll notice the difference in taste too, so I'd rather buy a smaller bird than a lower quality one.
- My favourite way to roast chicken is with lemon and thyme. Slice some cuts in the lemon and pop it inside the chicken. Drizzle a little olive oil over the skin, sprinkle with sea salt and thyme.
- Cover with foil, and cook according to weight - typically 20 minutes per 450g plus an extra 20 minutes. Remove the foil for the final 30 minutes for a brown, crispy skin. Check it's cooked thoroughly by pushing a sharp knife or skewer into the thickest part of the thigh - the juice should run clear.
- Pour the juices into a jug as it cooks. The fat will rise to the top and you can use this to roast your potatoes, and the meat juices will be used to make gravy.
- Make sure you leave your chicken to rest after it's cooked otherwise it will be a nightmare to carve.
- For the perfect roast potatoes, par boil first for 5-10 minutes. A tip in was given ages ago is to put a splash of vinegar in the water. I don't know why, but it gives potatoes that are crispy on the outside and fluffy inside - I always do it now. Once you've drained the spuds, give them a little shake in the pan to roughen up the edges.
- Heat up your fat in the roasting tray (preferably the same tray you cooked your meat on so you get all the flavours). Once it's really hot, add the potatoes and a sprinkle of sea salt. Give them a gentle shake to cover them all in fat. Cook on a high heat (around 220 degrees) for about 40 minutes.
- To make the gravy I use the meat juices and one Oxo cube. Crumble the stock cube into a saucepan with the juices. Heat and stir, adding a splash of wine if you happen to have any open. Once it starts to boil and thicken, reduce the heat and dilute to the right thickness using hot water from your vegetable pans. You shouldn't need any powder, granules or thickener.
And that's it - all that remains is to fight over who's having a leg and who's getting the breast.
How do you make your roast chicken dinner? Do you have any secret tips you want to share, or rituals about how you cook it?
Disclosure: I was sent the ingredients for a roast chicken dinner by Tesco. All words and photos are my own.