The Sunday roast is a time-honoured tradition that has brought people together for generations. But it’s possible that after a year interrupted by a pandemic, some of us might be a little rusty when it comes to executing a sensational roast.

Peter Reffell, Group Executive Chef at the Colonial Leisure Group and an English expat, says the Sunday roast is a meal close to his heart.

“It has to be a roast rib of beef and all the trimming that go with that: roast potatoes finished with a touch of duck fat,” he says. “Yorkshire puddings are a must.”

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Side dishes should be seasonal, he says. “Seasonal vegetables at the moment are things like cauliflower cheese, roast parsnips, buttered leeks – anything that’s going to give us a little bit of colour on the plate.”

Completing the spread are horseradish cream, English mustard, and, of course, gravy – in this case Bare Bones’ Classic Gravy with Black Garlic, a fancy beef-based gravy blended with onion and mixed herbs, and elevated with a touch of black garlic.

“That is a classic roast for me,” Reffell says.

We asked Reffell to share his tips on how best to prep a Sunday roast for an exceptional lunch at home.

Prep the day before
Reffell says nailing a Sunday roast is about timing. “Almost everything is going in the oven – your meat, your yorkies, your potatoes, at least one of your vegetables,” he says. “Make it easy – get things prepared beforehand, so it’s 15 minutes to finish them off.”

Both the Yorkshire pudding batter and the cauliflower cheese can be prepared the day before. Reffell blanches the whole cauliflower and cuts it into thick slices, rather than breaking it into florets. Make the cheese sauce, pour it over the cauliflower, and leave the uncooked dish in the fridge overnight.

“It’s the same with potatoes and leeks,” says Reffell. “Have the potatoes peeled and ready to go and chop your leeks – anything that’s going to make your life slightly easier on the day.”

The crust and the temperature
Reffell’s cut of choice is a rib of beef with the bone left in for flavour. After sealing the cut in a hot frying pan, he covers the beef in a salt crust – a paste made with equal quantities of salt and flour plus thyme and egg whites. “That’s going to intensify that flavour,” he says. “When it comes out of the oven, crack it with a spoon, take it off, and cut your beef as normal.”

A temperature probe is the most accurate way to determine when the meat is cooked. Reffell says once the temperature hits 52 degrees – medium rare – take the meat out of the oven and let it rest of half an hour while you finish cooking the sides.

Potatoes, pudding, leeks and cauliflower
Reffell prefers Desiree or Dutch cream potatoes – “they tend to be more floury,” he says. Before you put the beef in the oven, parboil the potatoes for 15 minutes in boiling water. “Once they’re cooked in the water,” he says, “I knock them around to take some of the edges off. So when they go into the roasting tray with the oil and duck fat, they really crisp up.”

Heat a mix of olive oil and duck fat in a roasting tray in a 240-degree oven. “Once that comes up to temperature, put in the potatoes,” says Reffell. “They only need 15 to 20 minutes in the oven to finish them off.”

Put the Yorkshire puddings in the oven when the potatoes have 10 minutes to go. “Once potatoes and yorkies are out, focus on other vegetables – the potatoes and yorkies will sit there quite nicely for at least 30 minutes.”

Last in the oven go the leeks – wrapped in foil with thyme and butter – and the cauliflower cheese. Both take around 15 minutes. “When the cauliflower and leek come out, you can put together the Sunday roast with a minimal amount of stress,” says Reffell.

How to make gravy
A roast isn’t a roast without delicious, umami-rich gravy. Reffell likes the Bare Bones Classic Gravy for its depth of flavour. Also, it doesn’t hurt that it simplifies the preparation process, letting you focus on the rest of the meal. “All the hard work has been done for you,” he says.

The final decision is what to drink. “Classic malbec or shiraz work really well, or an oaky chardonnay and viognier,” says Reffell, who also suggests a pale ale or porter. “Rich malty beers work really well with a roast too.”

This article is produced by Broadsheet in partnership with Bare Bones gravies and finishing sauces.