Sunday supper is my favorite meal of the week. Sunday’s are my day off so I have time to plan, prep and execute the kind of meals I’d like to eat every day. Sunday’s are a good day to try new recipes and sometimes it’s a great day to make recipes full of memories.
Yesterday was a day that called for memories and when I went hunting for options I found gold buried in my freezer. The ingredients for one of the most memorable and one of my favorite family dinners, something my Grandmother made all of the time, but I haven’t made it in years – Sunday Roast with a roast of pork and a roast of beef in the same pan or what I like to call Sunday Roast Aux Deux. Gravy was always made from the mixed drippings. I have no idea if other families did this; I just know my Grandma did it all the time. The buttery mashed potatoes on the side were meant to wear the gravy like a flavor dress on its way to the prom. Lots of rolls and butter for dipping and sandwich making, this was the Sunday meal my life was calling for yesterday.
As I built my flavour layers in the roast pan I remembered the smell of my Grandmother’s kitchen, the heat in the house that could be overbearing – the result of 2 ovens, 8 burners, various independent appliances and an overworked wood stove in the garage – and the smells of onions, garlic, poultry seasoning and lots of black pepper. My pan might be a little different. Celery, onion and garlic cloves make a bed for the 2 roasts that have been spiced and seared. Yesterday I used apple juice for the liquid because I had a box open and I didn’t want to waste it. Wine, broth or even water will also work; a Guinness would turn your gravy into a real treat. I floated some fresh thyme and rosemary in the liquid put a lid on the roast pan and into an oven preheated to 325 degrees, it went for 3.5 hours; so simple and easy for the dramatic comfort food results.
My Mom only made one roast variety at a time, my Dad didn’t care for the duo deluxe version, but she, like my Grandma always made the good gravy. When my Grandma got older and her family grew in size she used canned or packaged gravy, when I was young or when my Mom did gravy it was drippings and the consistent arguments of flour vs cornstarch, hard fought battles with the lumps with the end result being the best bowl of creamy comfort that always made the battles worth it. I’m a fan of hot anything sandwiches smothered in gravy, good gravy always has a future in my kitchen. Yesterday was no exception. I debated roux or slurry; I opted for a cream slurry with organic flour, heavy cream and dry herbs. I drained all of the liquid from the roast pan into my Dutch oven and married the boiling liquid with the slurry lump free and voila gravy magic happened.
My Husband joined me on dinner duty, peeling and mashing the potatoes we both felt this meal screamed for. Together we created what is for us an ultimate comfort meal, mashed potatoes, Sunday Roast aux Deux and gravy over everything. There were also the usual failed Yorkshire Pudding…. my food nemesis and one of the things I have not mastered in the kitchen. That’s a different story for a different time; for now I’ll just be enjoying the memories of yesterday’s Sunday dinner and all of the other dinners it has also brought to mind while enjoying the left overs because I always make enough for leftovers!
Sunday Roast Aux Deux
For the Roasts
3lb of Beef Blade Roast
3lb Pork Shoulder Roast
5 sticks of celery
3-4 cooking onions sliced
1 bulb fresh garlic
Dried spices – salt, pepper, garlic powder, onion powder, dried thyme and oregano
2-3 cups liquid of choice
*Feel free to use cut/size of choice. Sunday Roasts, like all meals, should be about personal preference.
Preheat oven to 325 degrees
Sear both roasts, careful to brown all sides. Deglaze pan with your roasting liquid and add liquid to your roast pan.
Add onions, celery, garlic and herbs to roast pan creating a bed for the roasts, top with roasts, cover and put it in the preheated oven where you can forget it for the next couple of hours. About 90mins in turn your roasts over, cover and return to the oven to finish out their time. I leave mine covered because I browned them in the searing process and I want them to stay tender. Remove from oven allow to rest 10 mins before slicing.
Real Comfort Gravy
I chose a cream slurry gravy to compliment the married rich flavours of beef and pork.
In a medium size mixing bowl I mixed dry ingredients – 1/2 cup organic wheat flour and the same dried spices as the roast with a lot more salt to boost the bland flour flavour. 1 cup heavy cream beat together and let it come to room temperature.
Drain and strain the liquid from the roast pan, if you need or want more gravy add broth to the pot and be sure to repeat the spices so your flavour palette is consistent, bring the broth to a boil and whisk the slurry in. Lower the heat immediately and allow the gravy to thicken. I always use a bigger pot than I need so there’s no boil over when I add the slurry. I allow this to cook for a few minutes so the slurry is absorbed and any raw flour taste cooked out. I use organic wheat flour because I feel it has the best results when freezing or re-heating, I also like the smooth texture created when it’s combined with the full fat cream. I know the cream might seem like an odd choice but I love the extra support the fat gives, I’ve never had lumps using this method and again it reheats beautifully.
8-10 medium Yukon Gold Potatoes peeled and boiled in salted water
1/4 butter cut in chunks,
1/4 heavy cream, or more depending on potatoes
Salt and pepper to taste
These are just your basic side with lots of buttery goodness. Boil your potatoes until tender; make sure they don’t become water logged. I like the roughness of a hand masher so I add the butter chunks, cream and spices mash it all together until it’s creamy not sticky with some un-mashed bits to break up the monotony. Yesterday my Husband did the potatoes and he is dedicated to the basics, when he’s doing the work I’m ok with that. Cheesy potatoes would work here or roasted garlic as well, don’t be afraid to go with the flavours you like best.
Plate building is very important, especially to my favorite part of eating ….. The Perfect Bite. For me the perfect bite is a bit of everything on the plate, cut to the right size, stacked in the right order so it all enters the mouth and attacks the taste buds in just the right way for optimal enjoyment. Yesterday’s perfect bite – mashed potato first, a small cube of each roast to make it a sturdy bite, a slice of dill pickle and my sad attempt at Yorkshire Pudding all dripping in gravy ( my Husband was correct to say it was tasty just not exactly right). The plate – mash on one side, a good mix of roast slices on the other, gravy smothering it all. The pickle needs to be on the side in its own portal, safe from being smothered to early and still retaining its chill. I often have to try more than once for that moment and sometimes never get it at all. When I do, I rebuild that perfect bite repeatedly until I’m full even though it’s only that first successful one that matters and brings true joy. After that I just feel the perfect bite is the only way to eat the meal. If I’m lucky enough to get it right that first time the meal is a success; if not I take note of what’s missing and try it differently next time. Yesterday everything I pictured in my head came to fruition; all parts of my central nervous system agree that last night’s Perfect Bite was truly the perfect bite for me. I could see, hear and smell my Grandmother’s kitchen mixed into the crazy atmosphere of mine. I could see the changes I’d made to the recipe, not to make it better just to make it me and I was sure I would make this recipe again many times in the future. I’m already looking forward to today’s leftovers and how I’m going to make them exciting all over again!