Liz McGuiness, Roving Reviewer… the intricasies of the humble roast

Liz McGuiness is renowned for her skills as a roving reporter, and chased in the streets for her witty reviews, but there’s other facets to this woman that be fer sure. She likes, nay, loves a roast and has provided her comprehensive guide on how to make it a roast worth turning up for…

One of my all time favourites is roasted ribeye, with some good shit on the side
One of my all time favourites is roasted ribeye with some good shit on the side

I think I should warn you that this blog piece may turn a little violent, but if you are into Game of Thrones or Spartacus, then you’ll find it pleasantly titillating. It’s all about me actually, and my favourite thing to eat in the world. The roast. Now I’m not going to give you a step by step guide to cooking the perfect roast – that’s all over this blog if you want it. I’m going to give you the skills to detect a “fake” good roast and a “oh my effing god I’ve just had 40 orgasms at once” good roast. I’m also going to let you in on a few little secrets on how to get the most out of said roast.

I was brought up in a time when men where men, skinny jeans were not invented yet and women baked a damn fine cake. I was brought up in a place where he who had the biggest cattle shed won, and all others were pretenders. Where a child’s worth was measured by how many head of cattle they could handle on their own for a 1000km drive, and where dogs were shot if they were stupid. Ah….good times, good times. But I can tell you one thing that wasn’t around when I was knee high to a grasshopper (as opposed to now where I am knee high to a ridiculously tall cricket), was small meals. If you went to a restaurant – or let’s face it, in SW Qld in the early 70’s a restaurant was a truck-stop that had more than potato scallops and chiko rolls – and you ordered a steak, you could expect that half a cow would come out on a serving platter, kept company by a Mt Everest of powdered mashed potato, pumpkin and peas, corn and carrot mix. All spread over by a luxurious smothering of gravox. Mmm mmm. That’s some good eatin’. Or not – depends on how hungry you were. You could expect to use your eating utensils to the maximum as you tried to chew your way through the leather that was cleverly disguised as steak. Probably fell off the back of a truck and was beaten to death by Indonesian meat workers to make sure it was dead first. Too far? Too bad. Yay for freedom of speech. Anyway, my point for this blog piece is that a good roast should be lovingly prepared and not eaten – but navigated and explored. When sitting down to a sublime roast, you should expect a whoop-assly large serving of everything and to be given a map and compass as you explore the plate and all it’s terrain.

I cooked a pretty good roast tonight actually, and I can tell you that everyone at the table was given a map and compass. The meat should not be of the “roadkill” variety, apart from the icky invertebrates on this kind of meat, it sucks dead man’s balls when it comes to taste and flavour.

When you have picked your piece of meat from your local butcher, and cooked it in one of the many ways on this blog, you need to rest it for longer than 2 minutes before carving it. I’m telling you, the longer you rest it, the more of a chance there will be that you will get lucky, because everyone knows, if the meat is tender, the loving is rough. Wait. Is that right???

So after carving your meat, it should be carefully fanned out on one side of the plate to maximise the area that will be exposed to gravy loveliness. The vegetables should be creatively piled around the remaining half. But not willy-nilly, oh no. Baked vegetables have a pecking order. Potato is obviously at the top. The perfect roasted potato should be golden brown on the outside and fluffy white on the inside. It should look like it is robust until you cut into it, when its integrity fails a little to welcome the gravy like a horny teenager. Pumpkin should be baked so that it is caramelised, not sloppy. It should say “ hey good looking, my name is Bob and I’ll be your pumpkin tonight” and you should say breathlessly “yes”. Carrot and onion are like pumpkin but obviously not as high up the pecking order.

A good plate of roast anything should not, repeat NOT EVER have the dreaded 3 vege frozen mix of peas, corn and carrot, or any of its peers. If you are going to have corn, make sure it’s a nice, juicy, plump cob, not something dragged out of the freezer that’s been forgotten about since the resurrection of Christ. Your greens should be free from freezer burn, and like the corn, be picked from the fairy garden at the bottom of your path, or if you don’t believe in fairies, freshly purchased from your local growers market which may well be populated by a few fairies anyway.

Now to the gravy. The sauce of any dish is the glue that binds the dish together. But this is just an analogy – you don’t really want it tasting like glue. If it does, chances are you have fucked it up and need to start again. At no stage, should your glue go anywhere near the plate of roast. I’m not going to tell you how to make gravy or jus, because there’s shitloads of that on this blog somewhere as well. But am I going to tell you that if you want to use gravox, because you are the timid sort where sauces are concerned, that is ok. Provided you use the meat juices and some plonk.

So you’ve made a roast in a roasting pan, you say. So you don’t really want to use plonk and flour to make an outrageously good jus, you say. That’s fine. Perhaps you’d like to take some course sandpaper to your tastebuds because you obviously don’t need them. Anyway, if all you have is gravox, a saucepan and a damn fine roasted piece of meat, dress that gravy up by resting the meat and after you have carved it, and made the gravy, pour the meat juices into the gravy and stir.  If you make glue, you will die alone. If you have gravy with meat juices in it, you will pull tonight. If you make a magnificent jus with meat juices and plonk, you will live the rest of your life in a disease free whore house where your every whim will be catered for. Do you see where I’m going? Good.

So the gravy/jus should be the last thing that is layered onto the plate. And it should be hot. Not lukewarm, not cold, not frigid like a little bitch, hot. And if you are receiving the plate, you should be able to tell that the gravy was placed over the roast in a loving and reverent manner – hopefully accompanied by some midget monks giving it their blessings. You should be able to smell the different components of the roast on the plate. You should be looking for your map and compass because you don’t know where to start, it all looks so fucking fabulous.

If you receive a plate of roast where any of this hasn’t happened, you need to walk out. Unless it’s at your mother-in-law’s house and your father-in-law likes to shoot big guns. That would be the only circumstance where it would be fine to eat a crappy roast.

A toast, a toast, to the Sunday roast… for mid week dinner

Too often the great Sunday roast is a concept that is abandoned to die a lonely death in a post apocaliptic waste land of shriveled up battery hens, tough, dry-as-Egyptian-sand-script lamb, under cooked potatoes, over cooked greyish hued beans and gravox gravy. Or maybe the baine marie for the “pension card holders 9 dollar special” at the local bowls club. An early grave for many a pensioner with salmonella basted some-kind-of-meat and deep fried “roast” vegetables (I’ve seen that shit before believe me). Not today folks. Not today…

Today we have arrived as paramedics with our culinary defibrillator, breathing apparatus and heaps of morphine (although the morphine is mostly for personal use).

Yeah, yeah, yeah. I know you’ve heard it all before. Someone saying that they’re going to revolutionise the Sunday roast and all that. They probably tell you they’re going to make cooking fun again, too. But quite frankly whatever. That’s not what I’m saying. Where did I say that? WHERE? No. I’m just saying it doesn’t need to be the same old shitty shit. And I’m on holiday and done with my first bottle of wine for the day so I don’t need any of your school girl crap. K? K.

Two little birds...
Two little birds…

SAMSUNG CSC

I think I may be a bit too generous with my chicken portions... and quite possibly the pouring of my wine
I think I may be a bit too generous with my chicken portions… and quite possibly the pouring of my wine. But I’m on holiday man…

FOR THE CHICKEN

Cook the chicken as you would normally roast chicken (if your oven has a rotisserie that’s the best thing for it hands down), let the bird rest breast side down so the juices help keep it moist. Nothing worse than a dry breast. If this is a constant problem for you may be you should consider getting some kind of moisturiser cream? I mean, I’m happy to take a look for you but I’m not an actual doctor…. Or (if you’re still actually reading this bollocks) maybe you should opt for roasting chicken marylands (the drum stick and thigh) as they are guaranteed 95% idiot proof. 95% might not be enough to help you though…

FOR THE BRAISED VEGETABLES (for 4)

3-4 potatoes, cut into 3cm-ish chunks

2 carrots, cut into 2cm-ish rounds

1-2 capsicum, sliced

1 onion, sliced

3-4 cloves garlic, smashed with the back of a knife

1 anchovy

1 handful of your favourite olives

1 tomato, cut into wedges

1 handful of herbs. Whatever you have lying around will be fine I’m sure*

1 cup chicken stock

Seasoning

  • In an oven proof pan sauté potatoes and carrots in a splash of olive oil until they start to get a touch of colour. This is to give them a little head start because they take longer to cook then the rest of the vegetables
  • Add the capsicum, onion, garlic and anchovy and transfer pan to 180C oven for 20 minutes, tossing several times
  • Add all other ingredients and return to oven for another 20 minutes or until most of the liquid is absorbed and the potatoes and carrots are cooked
  • Check seasoning, splash with a little olive oil and a few extra herbs, serve with that damn good looking bird (Not the one you met on Friday night. You’ll go to jail for that shit fool. The chicken. The chicken!)
The bust that quite disgusted Obi. He asked if we could cover it up. I tried...
This bust in the cottage quite disgusted Obi (I admit the pelvic area quite disturbs me, too). He asked if we could cover it up. I tried…
Waking up to this sort of shit is pretty damn good
The view from the back verandah. Waking up to this sort of shit is pretty damn good

*Please note; if you live in Nimbin “what ever herbs you have lying around” might cause you to be extra hungry later on so I suggest cooking at least double this recipe.

Boys Night… Roast Pork in the Camp Oven

I know we’ve given you a bit of an amusingly-witty-great-food-cooking-blog overload today but… you’re just gonna have to deal with it. Write your local member of Parliament or something.

Cookingfoodwithyourkidsisthebestshitever

This evening the boys spent a fair while trying to decide if he said, “honey, don’t play with your food” or “Ted, don’t play with your food”… We’ll never know. Until next time we watch Dr. Seuss’ “The Lorax”. Which will quite frankly, probably be within the week. And apparently Luke kissed Darth Vader. Still got a bit to teach these kids obviously.

We also combined our forces like voltron, lit a fire and danced ceremonially in a ritual we call “Boys Night”*.

Riveting conversation aside, I offered them a choice for the evening meal. I had a pork shoulder roast, a leg of lamb and a kilo and a half piece of rump steak… all looked good but I was pushing them towards the lamb. I really felt like lamb roasted over the coals. But as Jesus once said, you can lead a horse to water but you can’t make it drink. So pork it was. We also pulled out some cabbage, onions, apples, apple cider vinegar and anchovies. We can’t eat without anchovies at the moment. Not literally of course. I can eat just fine without an anchovy there to tell me to chew my food before I swallow so I don’t choke and die. I can also clean my own bottom when I go to the toilet. Oh, how far I’ve come!

So it’s clearly not all about me… not when I have children around that’s for sure. And when you can get in the kitchen with said mini yous, then good times are to be had by all. Unless you live in a shack in the hills and your children are a product of coital union between you and your sister. Then shits gonna get fucked up when little jimmy comes in to the kitchen to help his ma (your sister) fix some road kill raccoon mighty white sandwiches fer supper. That kid has no place there…

We cooked, we poked sticks in the fire, we watched a sea of gold come flowing out from under the mother duck (and realized quite quickly that it wasn’t actual gold, instead she had hatched out 16 ducklings), we ate (Not the ducklings. Not yet anyway), and then the kids asked me if they could stay up for the whole night watching movies. To which I politely replied no. No you may not.

Shopping list, check. I especially like the spelling of anchobies.

Before the pot.

Put the pork in a camp oven, season with salt and pepper (just a little salt because we have a few anchovies heading in for the ho-down a little later), and place in your fire pit with some coals on top to create “the camp oven”. After 30 minutes add your other ingredients.

After another 30 minutes check to see if things are going as they should. If it need a bit more time let it have some. You don’t own time, you know? When it’s smelling like really awesome tasty things smell bring it to the table but let it rest for 10-15 minutes just to make sure the available awesome-ness is fully achieved.

Carve it up while your son pretends he is a Japanese tourist… again…

Nom, nom, nom, burp, aaaah. And then tomorrow we go camping so there’s sure to be more fire cookery posts from that. Rock on dark continent, we love you!

Zzzzzzzzzzzzzzz. That’s the sound I make when I pass out because I had a little to much (or maybe just the right amount) of wine… mmmmm. Passed out…

*Boys Night. A night where you hang out with your boys and do cool shit.