A couple of weeks ago we were invited by Red Tractor beef and lamb to join Fay Ripley at L’atelier des chefs to prepare beef or lamb mini-roasts. The event was to demonstrate what a great midweek meal a mini-roast can be, with simple preparation and a cook time under 50 minutes. This case was perfectly demonstrated as I stood drinking tea with Afra, Mad Mum of 7 for 20 minutes whilst our’s were in the oven. Just think what you could do with this time on a week night help with homework, put on the washing, get ready for the next day or just make the most of it and put you feet up!
I must point out before I sound like a smug mum that prepares mini-roasts midweek on a regular basis the rather stressful process that had preceded…
I obviously didn’t read the brief thoroughly enough when I assumed we’d be taught to cook a roast before being let loose for a Masterchef style cook off! I’m not a horrific cook and I love to bake but I always follow a recipe and usually leave roasts to my hubby whilst my job is the veg and pudding. Here we were surrounded by mothers, bloggers and cooks whom I admire, like English Mum who has been a go to source for recipes for me for years. Stood next to Honest Mum who’s turned into a vlogging/cooking super woman and supposed to be coming up with something impressive my mind had gone to mush.
The table of ingredients looked beautiful but intimidating and I was so relieved to have brought Madam who aspires to Junior Masterchef and regularly watches the Food Channel. Whilst I went to pieces a little bit she went and picked out the most beautiful looking cut of lamb which we decided to season with Garlic & Rosemary because it’s what we know and like. We kept it simple and picked vegetables I know the children like; parsnips, carrots and butternut squash, cubed them to roast and started peeling potatoes for paprika wedges.
After it was all in the oven, I escaped to drink tea and pray it would come out alright whilst pretending to be a domestic goddess!
I presented it on the plate pre-slicing which I felt looked like something you’d get in a gastro pub but mainly because I panicked about resting times and then had to run and find a carving knife whilst everyone else’s was being judged! The wedges were a little too oily and could’ve done with a little more paprika and the veg was a little dry but I was relieved to have managed something. Everyone else’s looked far superior and I considered hiding in the toilets the judges moved down the table tasting and commenting. There was no way Madam wouldn’t have allowed that, eager to hear how she had done. What didn’t let us down was a beautifully tender and juicy cut of meat which melted in your mouth and oozed flavour.
Fay’s comments were kind; she said (carefully) that even though our creation wasn’t quite as fancy as some others it was a dish the children would be happy to dig into whilst some of the others they may be put off trying. The variety of dishes demonstrated the amount that could be achieved with a mini-roast. Whilst some were twists on traditional, Honest Mum had added a mediterranean twist and some were dressed so wonderfully with couscous and salads they would made impressive centre pieces at a party. The winner was Afra who had gone for a very traditional roast with cranberry sauce and all the trimmings, it looked and tasted divine and I’m afraid I can confirm she didn’t put in a ridiculous amount of effort and could easily replicate this on an average week night.
I so thoroughly enjoyed the experience, I was thrown way out of my comfort zone but learnt so much from it and have been much more adventurous with my week night meals as a result. Looking back over the photos I realise that the meal I felt a little disappointed with and insecure about looked absolutely fine when not surrounded by the other fancy creations. My 2 little super fans and assistant chefs had a wonderful time, Madam in particular was thrilled to have Fay sign her a personal copy of her newest book, ‘Fay Makes it Easy’. I think this is one of the best cookbooks I’ve looked through most the recipes look like something I could manage and most the family would enjoy.
For a recipe similar-ish to ours why not try simply lamb & beef’s mini-roast with Rosemary Butter and there are lots more fantastic recipes, advice and information on their website.