The traditional great Sunday roast originates from England, and is a meal that was designed to be eaten after a Sunday church service. While this practice was and still is common across Europe in many Christian countries, the Sunday roast we know puts a very English spin on the ingredients. As Roman Catholics and Anglicans traditionally abstained from eating meat on certain days of the week, the Sunday roast was seen as a celebration because all meat and dairy could be consumed on Sundays.
It is believed that the Sunday roast first came about during King Henry VII’s rule in 1485. Royal bodyguards were known as ‘beefeaters’ because of their love of eating roasted beef. There is another theory that the Sunday roast was created in medieval times, when village serfs served the squire six days of the week. On Sundays, after church, serfs would gather in a field to run through battle practice. If they performed well, they were rewarded with roasted oxen.
During the industrial revolution, before going to church, people would put a joint of meat into their oven along with vegetables and potatoes. When they returned from the church service, their meal would have been slowly cooked over time and ready to eat. Juices from the dish were used to make gravy, which was poured over the meal. Poorer families would not have luxuries like fireplaces or ovens, so their Sunday roast would be dropped off for cooking at a local bakery on their way to church. It would be cooked in the bakery’s bread ovens, as bread was not baked on Sundays.
A traditional feature of the Sunday roast is the Yorkshire pudding. Historically, Yorkshire puddings were not served next to the meat of the roast as they are today. Instead, they were served as an appetiser with lots of gravy before the main meal. The puddings were served like this because it was hoped that they would help to fill people up so that they wouldn’t eat so much meat during the main course (preventing further costs). Traditional accompaniments to a Sunday roast include roasted potatoes, roasted parsnips, cauliflower cheese and vegetables such as carrots, cabbage and greens. This is all topped off with plenty of gravy, usually made from the meat juices.
Our Sunday roast options at The Inn at Huxley include a roasted sirloin of beef with a traditional roasted garnish, and of course the must-have Yorkshire pudding. Alternatively, you can try our duo of pork (loin and belly), served with traditional roast garnish and Bramley apple sauce.
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