A warm welcome to Rossa and this is her opening piece, timed just before this evening’s meal [London time]:

This is the first dip into my appetite for the food of life. I have been cooking for 39 years, eating fresh, cooked and uncooked food every day. I’m not a food snob but I am something of a foodie. Not in an OCD sort of way just that I love to cook and share food and as it is something we have to do to live then why not enjoy it. And my favourite maxim is…

“I always cook with wine and sometimes I even put it in the food”  RIP Keith Floyd!

Roast Dinner

My favourite roast dinner has to be a roast chicken. I used to eat more red meat but it seems to give me indigestion these days. So if I was ever to find myself on death row and was asked what would I like for my final meal on this mortal coil then there it is….a plucked and drawn fowl, shoved in an oven until golden brown with soft melting flesh, dripping juices down my chin…now that is what I call oralgasmic!

What a way to go.

Oh and it has to be the brown meat for me. The thigh, drumstick and wing have the most flavour and I love to gnaw the bones clean. Gives a whole new meaning to lip smacking! I’m a natural born carnivore and this satisfies the inner cavewoman in me. Looks like it appeals to James as well if this morning’s post is anything to go by.

So what to have with it? That’s the question for today.

Roast potatoes or mash, sprouts or cabbage, carrots, gravy? What’s your favourite? This week it was boiled new potatoes and sliced sprouts cooked with cumin seeds, butter and just enough water to cover them. Then boiled rapidly for 5 mins until still a bit crispy but tender enough to eat. None of your overcooked mush, smelling of damp dishcloths in this house!

If it’s to be roast potatoes then I’m a fan of Nigella’s method. Parboil your spuds for 10 mins, drain and dry off in a pan with a teaspoon of semolina. The semolina absorbs any remaining moisture and gives a crispy finish after roasting. I use lard or goose fat because it can reach a higher temperature without burning than something like olive oil.

If you prefer oil then groundnut oil usually used in Chinese cooking has the highest smoke point which is why it is good for stir frying over an intense heat. It also has virtually no flavour in itself so you taste potato rather than that rancid fat flavour you can get in some restaurants that re-use their oil too often.

And yes they do pre-cook their potatoes and then deep fry them to give that roasted look. Or they use frozen pre-formed and pre-cooked potato straight into the deep fat fryer which drops the temperature right down so you get those sorry looking, soggy piles of browned off mash masquerading as the real deal. You didn’t really believe the freshly cooked phrase on the menu did you? It may be freshly cooked but it certainly isn’t what I mean by fresh.

Gravy, well that has big potential for argument. Do you make your own or use a packet? Well I have my first confession to make. I use a gravy mix. Shock horror, how can a former chef use a powder instead of making it from scratch. Well to be honest I don’t have the time and can’t be bothered any more. Quick and easy is what I want.

My opinion on this changed when I watched Gary Rhodes recommend the Bonne Cuisine Madeira sauce mix. Well if it’s good enough for the gelled, follically upright one then it’s good enough for me. And really all it is, is flavoured cornflour, Think of it as a mix of a stock cube with thickening and you get my drift.

It is also great to use to thicken stews (Bourguignon or au Vin for those who like to impress at dinner parties), but that’s a discussion for another day.


Rossa can be reached here. Her other posts can be found from the left sidebar on this site.

5 comments for “Appetites!

  1. JD
    September 23, 2010 at 18:34

    “I always cook with wine and sometimes I even put it in the food” RIP Keith Floyd!

    and quite right too!

  2. September 23, 2010 at 20:13

    Roast chicken is one of my favourite dishes. But when it is roasted I like the white meat best. When it is cooked any other way I prefer the brown meat.

    It is a good job I have just eaten, I am on a diet 😉

  3. Patrick Harris
    September 23, 2010 at 20:34

    Having parboiled the spuds try running them round the inside of a sieve, this breaks up the surface of said spuds giving a greater surface area to absorb more of the goose fat or chicken dripping ensuring a deliciously crisp texture.
    My youngest daughter showed me how.

  4. September 23, 2010 at 20:36

    Wow, this is getting quite culinary.

  5. Rossa
    September 24, 2010 at 07:24

    That’s a good one Patrick. Delia says to put them back in the pan till dry, put a lid on the pan and shake around which breaks up the surface to get that crunchy outside everyone likes.

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