Once upon a time, the Sunday roast was a staple of middle class family life. Any family with two cents to rub together would splurge on a juicy joint of meat, loads of roast vegies and lashings of thick gravy. Times may have changed, but this is one tradition that should not be allowed to die.
Roasting is a pretty easy method of cooking, but it does take a little practice to figure out how to get the meat cooked through without burning. The greatest thing about cooking a roast is once you've prepared everything, you can pop it in the oven and start socialising with your guests.
The most important decision you'll have to make it what type of meat will serve as the centrepiece of your feast. Some joints are easier to cook than others. See this website for cooking time guidelines.
Chicken is nearly impossible to burn but, unlike red meat, you need to make sure it cooks the entire way through or you could give your guests food poisoning. Your chicken must be thouroughly defrosted before cooking. Cover with olive oil and salt before placing in a pre-heated oven.
Beef is simple and delicious but unpalatable if it dries out. The best beef for roasting is an even sized piece trimmed with a little bit of fat - no fat and the meat will be too dry.
Pork is possibly the hardest roast to prepare because everyone expects perfectly crisp crackling. Prepare the joint by scoring it with a sharp knife and coating with oil and salt. Place the pork on a roasting rack in your baking tray - if you place it straight on the baking tray it will stew in it's juices and the crackling will be soggy. Pre-heat your oven to about 250 degrees Celcius and cook the pork for about fifteen to twenty minutes. Remove, lower the heat and cook according to guidelines.
When you've got your meat underway, you can start on your vegetables. For the perfect roast potatoes and pumpkin, boil first for about twenty minutes. Place the vegetables in an oiled baking tray and add one knob of butter (the oil will keep the butter from burning). Cook for one hour in a pre-heated moderate oven. Other good vegetables for roasting are carrots and corn on the cob.
Finally, you can't have a roast without gravy. Combine two teapsoons of beef stock (you can also use chicken stock or even vegetable stock, but not fish stock) for every cup of hot water. Pour into a saucepan and bring to the boil. While the liquid is boiling, slowly add about three or four teaspoons of cornflour. When the flour has combined with the liquid, turn down the heat and allow to simmer until the gravy has reached the desired thickness. Add the juices from your roasting pan, mix well and serve.