Written by Amy Beecham
How to perfect your roast dinner for autumn, from crispy potatoes to tender meats, according to some of our favourite Instagram food accounts.
If the drop in temperature and changing leaves hadn’t already signalled it, autumn is well and truly upon us. And what better way to keep warm, cosy and replenished than with a hearty dinner?
The humble roast dinner is a staple on British dinner tables for good reason, but that doesn’t mean all roasts are created equally. Everybody has their own unusual spin, clever cooking hack or secret addition to add to make a truly memorable meal.
So we asked nine of our favourite Instagram and TikTok food accounts to share how they make the perfect meat, vegetarian and vegan roast dinners.
How to make the perfect roast dinner for autumn
Don’t be shy about using butter
“The one thing that transforms a good roast chicken into a great one is butter,” Bre Graham, the food writer behind the Dishes To Delight newsletter, tells Stylist. “I use A LOT of butter in my cooking but especially on my roast chickens. I really love the compound butters from Abernethy, like black garlic or smoked butter. It’s exceptional Irish butter and makes a world of difference. Put your potatoes beneath the chicken as it roasts with some lemon, carrots and herbs and you’ll have yourself a dish that’s totally divine.”
Try this clever roast potato hack
According to popular foodie account Dishes By Daisy, the secret to a good roast is always the potatoes. “They must be golden on the outside whilst remaining fluffy on the inside,” Daisy says. “ My secret to achieving this is to first parboil the potatoes; adding a teaspoon of bicarbonate of soda to the water, which helps them go crispy in the oven. You also want to preheat your oil, preferably a decent olive oil, in the oven before adding your potatoes to it. The hotter the oil and the hotter the oven, the crispier (and better) the roasties!”
Patience makes perfect
“Good things come to those who wait and that applies to roast dinners too,” says Zainab Pirzada, from Cooking with Zainab. “A great roast dinner is like an orchestra, harmonising instruments from different families onto one plate: succulent meat, rich gravy, crispy potatoes and perfect vegetables. There is a fair amount of work involved and getting it right isn’t as easy as it looks but patience is a virtue which will pay off,” she explains.
“Lamb is my personal favourite, leg or shoulder, start on it early and slow roast it. It doesn’t have to be complicated at all, smother it in sea salt, black pepper, garlic, olive oil and rosemary – more spices if you want. Wrap it in foil and chuck it in the oven for five hours on a low heat. You will be rewarded greatly, with tender meat that falls off the bone.”
Don’t neglect the veggies
“When it comes to cooking the perfect vegetables for your dinner, the trick is to not over-complicate the mission,” says Josie Christie, who runs The Heavenly Veggie blog and Instagram account.
“If you’re after a traditional dinner, throw some halved brussels sprouts, chopped carrots, parsnips, red onions and garlic bulbs into a roasting dish and drizzle with olive oil, fresh herbs (I strongly suggest sage and rosemary), salt and pepper and bake for 45 minutes. The result? Perfectly golden and crispy vegetables that will sing with flavour and complement the other delicious tastes on your dish. A breeze to make, and a delight to eat.”
Butter up some more
Rene, from Rene’s Cravings on Instagram and TikTok also swears by a spiced compound butter made in the fridge to perfect her Sunday roast. “I usually make this the day before I plan on making a roast,” she explains. “Take room temperature butter and mix in herbs and spices such as turmeric, garam masala and chilli powder. Let this chill in the fridge and add it to various parts of the roast, when cooking the roast potatoes or even in between the skin of the chicken to get it nice and crispy. These flavours add a lovely subtle twist to the classic roast dinner.”
Keep it simple, but effective
“I love making a roast dinner and usually team my beef with crispy potatoes and honey roasted carrots and brussels sprouts,” Instagram foodie Ilhan Abdi shares with Stylist.
“We know sprouts have a notoriously bad reputation in the vegetable world but this is different. I shred my sprouts then season and drizzle with honey before placing in the oven. The result is a crispy, sweet cabbage-like veg. Gone are the days of soggy sprouts.
I make the usual type of Yorkshire puddings, only I keep half to serve for dessert as a doughnut! I stuff them with fresh custard and dip them in cinnamon sugar.
I keep my beef simple as a lot of the flavour comes from the onion gravy I serve with it but I do love to brown it first with garlic butter, rosemary and my secret ingredient: balsamic glaze. It adds a depth of flavour and a lovely glaze to the outside.”
Start with the main event and build from there
When planning a vegan roast dinner,Chelsea Foote from Health By Chels explains that the key is deciding what you want as your main event, and working from there. “Figure out if you want a meat alternative, a nut roast, tofu, or even a wellington. There are amazing vegan ‘meats’ these days, just have a look in your local supermarket. If you prefer something more homemade, have a Google for some hearty nut roast or wellington recipes. I made a gorgeous nut roast with sweet potato which was fabulous.
Then it comes to the veggies: so long as you don’t cook them in butter, you can’t really go wrong.My favourite is to roast them with some oil, salt and maple syrup, there’s nothing quite like a bit of sweet and salty.”
Roast potatoes, a second way
According to May Robertson, the woman behind the Nutrition With May Instagram account, the secret to a great roast potato is getting them extra crispy.“I like to cut my potatoes relatively small to increase the surface area and create more space for crispiness, plus the additional edges help to add extra crisp. Preheat your oven, and add enough oil to a roasting tray to cover the bottom. Pop the tray in the oven to heat the oil, this should take about 10 minutes.
Meanwhile, add your potatoes to a saucepan and add enough water to just cover them. Once the water reaches a boil, reduce the heat and simmer the potatoes for 4-5 minutes. Drain your potatoes and add a little flour, shake the potatoes up so that they’re evenly coated and fluffed at the edges. Now here is the important step: leave the hob that you used to boil your potatoes on and remove the roasting tray from the oven placing it on top of the hot hob.
The oil will be sizzling slightly above the heat, so carefully add your potatoes to the pan and toss in the hot oil for a couple of minutes making sure that potatoes are fully coated in the oil. This additional step will help to kickstart the crisping of the potatoes before roasting them. Pop your potatoes in the oven and roast for 40-45 minutes, turning them halfway – and there you have it, the crispiest roast potatoes!”
Turn up the heat
Jo Norton, who runs the Lagattolla Eats blog with her partner, believes that the secret to a great roast lies in the humble Yorkshire pudding. “Make the batter at least two hours in advance and chill in the fridge. Use a 4:1 plain flour to self-raising flour ratio for puffy, risen Yorkshires, but still with that cooked-through but soft batter base. For more ‘cup’ Yorkshires with a thinner base, adjust the ratio of self-raising and plain flour to 50:50, so 75g of each flour (add more milk for a thinner batter). Use a hot tray and preheated oil. Speed-pour the batter in to get them nice and crisp.”
Images: Getty/courtesy of contributors
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