The art of the perfect roast

Connie Fisher 14 November 2013

It's the ultimate family nostalgia. Roast and all the trimmings on a lazy Sunday afternoon. But what gives it that extra little bit of pizzazz?

The initial question has to be – chicken or beef? Or lamb or pork? I'm not going to claim to know the answer to this (although for me, I'd have to say beef) – but whatever the cut, there's a couple of things that it absolutely must have: a crispy skin, and a juicy, tender inside.

If it's chicken, thyme and rosemary placed under the skin and the cavity stuffed with lemons makes the meat gorgeously aromatic, and a Heston-style 5-hour roast at 70˚C is spectacular, albeit probably against food standards legislation. The standard beef joint is topside, but you can use cheaper cuts like brisket and just cook them incredibly slowly. Always throw loads of veg in the roasting tin with the meat, including a whole bulb of garlic (cloves unpeeled), then cook until it's blushing pink inside, slice really thinly, and serve with lashings of horseradish. If you're feeling rebellious you could go for lamb or pork: lamb is great done Moroccan-style with spices and couscous, and pork obviously needs killer crackling.

Sausage-meat stuffing is a must for chicken, and home-made Yorkshire puds with beef (if not everything). The slimy, worringly-uniform, out-of the-freezer Aunt Bessie's variety definitely will not do (sorry, Bessie).

Roast potatoes have to be parboiled, shaken hard and place in very hot fat to give that awesome crispy outside and seriously fluffy middle. If you're feeling indulgent duck fat is the way to go, and roasting with whole garlic cloves in the fat and a couple of sprigs of rosemary will give them an extra hit.

Let's talk veg: there's a smorgasbord of options, but whatever you do, soggy, dull and overboiled simply isn't on. Carrots and parsnips maple-glazed and roasted with pecans make a great option, or try sprouts (yes, sprouts, you know you love 'em) roasted with chestnuts, bacon lardons and lashings of butter.

Gravy has to be thick and rich, with the help of veg roasted in the tin with the meat, plus a good dollop of marmite.

Serve alongside a large group of family and friends, a Mary Berry-worthy showstopper pud, and finish with an extended afternoon nap.