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Christmas essentials

Roasting: A Culinary Christmas Story

Roasting: A Culinary Christmas Story
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Denise Spencer

Roasting Essentials

There is plenty going on this time of year without fretting about how to impress your guests at the festive table too. Don’t suffer in silence! Speak to your local butcher or supermarket meat counter staff for ideas/advice on meat cuts, cooking times, and most importantly the quantity you’ll need to make your day a success. All of this will depend on your budget and how many you intend to feed (not forgetting to factor in for leftovers!). As a general rule, for boneless joints allow 100-175g/4-6oz raw meat per person and for bone-in joints, allow 225-350g/8-12oz.

My top tips for roasting success

Being organised is the key. 

If time allows remove your joint from the fridge an hour before roasting. This is a great plan as you’ll need all the fridge space you can get for other goodies!

There are a variety of recipes to choose from on our Simply Beef and Lamb site, but my favourites are Roast Rib of Beef with Thyme, Port and Redcurrants or Festive Roast Beef with Cranberry and Red Onion Relish.  For smaller households try Beef Mini Roast with Caraway Seeds and Garlic Crust that will serve 2-3 people.

For lamb, go for Rolled Shoulder of Lamb with Christmas Pudding Stuffing or Rolled Shoulder of Lamb with Pilau Rice stuffing. These are boneless and will be easier to carve.  If you fancy something else, we have hundreds of roast recipes.

Before roasting your joint always weigh your raw joint (plus stuffing for a rolled joint) and calculate the cooking time. Take a look at our tables and other information about roasting times.

To take the guesswork out of roasting, invest in a meat thermometer. There is a wide variety available to choose from.

After roasting leave room for your joint to rest. This is crucial in order for the meat fibres in your joint to relax, aid succulence and will make carving easier. Invest in a good, sharp carving knife and fork set. We've got plenty tips on perfect carving too.

Additions for the Festive Table

If you are looking for stuffing ideas to serve with your centrepiece, then look no further. They’re always a crowd pleaser adding complimentary tastes and textures and they will make your joint go further too. We have a selection that will beat sage and onion any day! Try Porcini Mushrooms and Chestnut Stuffing – Great with beef or Couscous, Cranberry and Pistachio Stuffing – perfect with roast lamb or Pearl Barley and Walnut Stuffing.  All can be served shaped into small balls or cooked in a large ovenproof dish.

Raise your Gravy Jugs

People often panic about making gravy. Nothing can be simpler than clicking how to make the prefect gravy and all will become clear. If you like, add a splash of port, sherry or good red wine for an additional gravy flavour hit.


Christmas with Relish


Chutneys and relishes are great partners for roasts and they are simply to make and taste fantastic. Now is the time to make your chutneys; they’ll be perfect to serve for Christmas lunch. The relishes can be made at least 24 hours in advance. The chutneys are perfect with cold roast beef or cheese too. Try our Pear and Cranberry or Carrot and Date Chutney or our Pomegranate, Sweet Pepper or Apple and Cider Relish.

Lovely Leftovers

The age old question is what to do with the leftovers from your Christmas feast after you have exhausted the sandwich route. We have a few suggestions to perk up any cooked roast beef or lamb that you can rustle up over the holiday period. Try One Pot Beef Pasta or Thai Lamb Broth. The Festive Tortilla is a great brunch treat that even uses up leftover roast potatoes and Brussels sprouts!

Have a Merry, Fuss-Free Christmas.

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