For me, Sundays are all about taking it easy, having time for a bath, having a cooked breakfast, spending time with my husband and the kids all together, and eating slow cooked, indulgent comfort food. I dont get to have this idyllic Sunday every week but when I do, I revel in it and wish that life could decelerate more often.
This blog has taken me a while to put together because the food I am going to talk about is slow to cook and demands to be cooked at the weekends which is not always achievable. Yes, included in these recipes are some Sunday roasts, but I think they all have elements that elevate them above your classic roast dinners. Not that I am in any way disparaging of the classic Sunday roast; it is a thing of beauty to be shared with the family and relished in all its forms. But perhaps I can offer some little additions or twists that might freshen things up a bit.
I think one of my very favourite meats is Lamb. It is fairly expensive to buy out here inFranceand so its definitely a bit of a treat. If I ever see it on offer, I snap it up and freeze it for future indulgence. One of my favourite cuts is lamb shoulder; cheaper than the leg with less meat but still full of flavour, it benefits from slow roasting until the meat just falls away from the bones as tender as can be. The beauty of slow roasting is that it doesnt require enormous amounts of work, leaving you all the more time to unwind with your family. My preferred recipe to follow for this cut is by Jamie Oliver from his Jamie at Home book. Slow Roasted Shoulder of Lamb with Heaps of Garlic and Rosemary, it falls apart once cooked and is then enhanced with an exceptional sauce bursting with mint and capers which gives the whole dish a wonderful zing. I deviate from Jamies recipe for the accompaniments though as I like to serve it with crispy, rich, duck fat roasted potatoes, and silky, moist braised gem lettuces. This dish is packed with strong flavours and if you are like me, you will want to eat the sauce with a spoon!
Another dish that I consider to be one of the ultimate winter warmers and a true comfort food is our Family Stew. Stew is not a terribly exciting way of describing this dish perhaps I should call it a Daube or a Carbonnade, but they are really just foreign words for stew. This recipe is not pretentious or fussy and so befits a simple title of Family Stew. My Mother passed on the secrets to me and now I am writing about them (much to her distress as she would rather they stay secrets!). But I have tinkered with her recipe a little and I think its worthy of writing about despite its simplicity and humbleness. There are two secret ingredients in this stew which lift it out of the ordinary and then a final flourish that tops it all off. The inexpensive beef is cooked for hours at a low temperature in a whole bottle of red wine .with the clever addition of a whole tin of anchovies and a little pot of onion confit. These two little ingredients add so much to the sauce that I would never consider making a stew without them. Then I top the whole thing off with slices of baguette spread with a little butter and marmite and cook it for a further 40 minutes until the toasts are crispy round the edges and soft and rich in the centre, reminiscent of little marmite dumplings of sorts. In our house, we fight over these little nuggets of toasty marmite which compliment the rich beefiness of the stew so perfectly. Even if you are not a fan of Marmite. I guarantee you will enjoy this dish!
Finally I want to tell you about another inexpensive roast which can be stunning and delectable. From time to time they have offers on in the supermarkets here where you can purchase a whole pork belly very economically. We have done this a few times and it is great to get it home, portion it up and have a freezer bursting at the seams with superb pork ready to roast. I am a huge fan of pork belly and have cooked it in many ways. It is the only cut of pork that I know of here inFrance from which you can still get crackling and so simply roasting it is always a winner for me. Last weekend I made Slow Roasted Pork Belly with Pommes Fondant, Buttered Leeks & Roasted Beetroot. In essence, none of the elements of this dish were fancy and yet when they were all put together, I think they achieved something truly special on a plate. I was excited to make Pommes Fondants for the first time and they did not disappoint; rich with butter and stock they were soft and flavoursome. The buttered leeks with a dash of lemon juice offset the fatty pork and the roasted beetroot added an earthy sweetness that rounded off the dish. The crunch of the crackling gave another texture and a simple gravy brought it all together. A very satisfying meal of simple ingredients united in an elegant dish.