Choice Cuts for your Carvery

A traditional English roast or carvery lunch as  it is sometimes known is served at pubs and restaurants across the UK as a standard choice on their daily menu. A carvery lunch is usually served buffet-style where your choice of meat is carved in front of you and placed on your plate by one of the chef’s assistants; then it is up to you to add the vegetables of your choice and other accompaniments such as gravy and sauce.

Variations on the everyday carvery are the Sunday lunch and Christmas dinner. The meal usually consists of a variety of cooked meats and vegetables and is one of the best meals you can eat either at home or dining out. Based on value for money and sound nutritional content, a carvery lunch is hard to beat.

Usually a carvery meal at a reputable eatery provides a choice of roast pork, gammon, turkey or beef. When recreating this meal at home you can choose virtually any meat you like providing it is a large enough piece to carve well. Joints suitable for a carvery can even be bought boneless if you prefer. Ensure that your knives are ultra sharp or invest in an electric carving knife for added assistance.  Having a good selection of appropriately sized platters will allow you to present the meal as expertly as in a high class restaurant.

If you have a conventional oven, a traditional English carvery lunch can easily be recreated at home wherever you live in the world, if the necessary ingredients are available either fresh or frozen.

Stuffing, Yorkshire pudding and onion gravy are other food items not to be omitted from any self-respecting carvery meal. Regional variations and choice of vegetables in season will allow a little scope for you to experiment in the preparation of your lunch. Everyone has their favourite sauces but traditionally there is apple sauce with pork, cranberry sauce with turkey, mint sauce with lamb and horseradish to accompany roast beef.

To make a traditional Yorkshire pudding is simpler than most people imagine. All you need are some good quality baking tins, a hot oven set to 220 degrees centigrade and a batter mix consisting of plain flour, eggs and milk. Just mix enough of each for the mixture to pour into the tins easily without being too runny – it should be of a similar consistency to the batter you would use to coat fish. Of course you can buy frozen Yorkshire puddings but nothing is quite as good as home made. The trick is to ensure that the cooking oil in the tins is really hot before you add the mixture. The puddings should rise and cook perfectly in 20 minutes allowing for variations in the size of the baking tins. Your crisp and golden freshly-baked Yorkshire puddings should be the last items to be placed on the plate once everything else is served.

Suitable vegetables are honey-glazed parsnips, cabbage carrots, broccoli, Brussels sprouts and cauliflower cheese (the latter is a firm favourite when served with roast lamb) but again your individual choice can enable you to create a carvery lunch unique to the requirements of your family or guests.

Vegetarians need not miss out; there are many recipes available nowadays for nut roasts that carve easily and even appeal to the taste buds of meat eaters!

Roast potatoes are easily prepared and can be roasted with their skins left on to save time. The beauty of a carvery lunch is that virtually everything except the boiled vegetables can be cooked in the oven while you are seeing to other things.

Select good cuts of meat from the butcher that will be ideally suited to roasting. A good roasting joint should have a reasonable amount of fat on it to protect the lean meat during the cooking process and good quality tin foil is also useful. Roasting a meat joint is easy and whether you choose to add water or fat to the roasting pan is purely down to personal choice.

Gravy granules can be bought and instantly made with boiling water but for something unique and more appealing to the taste buds use your own favourite range of herbs to go with the meat of your choice. Thicken the meat juices with corn flour to suit individual taste.  Onions can be added to the gravy or served individually.

It is also personal preference as to which type of fat is used to cook your carvery lunch. Before the availability of cooking oils such as vegetable oil and sunflower oils the only option was to use an animal fat such as lard or beef dripping to prepare a roast dinner but now the choice of healthier options is virtually limitless.

Ensure your carvery lunch is served as piping hot as possible by warming the plates beforehand as you add your selection of meats and vegetables.

And last but not least – don’t forget a good bottle of wine or some fine ale to accompany your traditional English meal.

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