Roast Dinner Challenge

It seems very appropriate that Meg and I are starting our food journey by looking at the good old roast dinner. For me, the roast is the one meal that holds the most nostalgia as I’m sure it will do for many of you. I have very fond memories of getting back from church with my grandparents and having a roast to look forward to. Even now I cherish the Sundays that Meg and I have off and are able to cook together, and by together I mean Meg cook and I stand in the kitchen in the way, and then spend time eating together. I have always enjoyed preparing and cooking a roast on a Sunday but Meg has a very special way of transforming the roast into something even more delicious, so as I started by saying, it’s very apt that our journey starts here.

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So lets get down to business! A roast dinner challenge I hear you ask? Basically, we went into Lidl with £7 in the hopes of having a cracking dinner. These challenges is something you will see more often as we tend to find ourselves in situation with minimal cash and with a lot to buy. Anyway, so off we toddle to Lidl and for a whopping £6.57 we got our roast dinner. We managed to buy a whole chicken which I was truly amazed at as it was only £2.35 (couldn’t close my mouth when I saw the price and Aaron just laughed at me) not forgetting a bag of carrots, a massive cauliflower and broccoli, cheese and milk. We did however sacrifice the eggs needed for Yorkshire puddings for donuts, but come on it’s donuts! We may have cheated a little bit (or a Lidl bit) as we already had potatoes at home which is something we usually stock up on at the beginning of the month once we’ve done our food plan a budget (post to follow).

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What came first the chicken or the egg? In this case the chicken as we got donuts instead of eggs. With the chicken I started by mixing finely chopped garlic and butter together. This was pushed underneath the layer of skin. Chicken can tend to be a dry meat once roasted, and if you’re lazy like myself basting it every so often is such a chore, so butter it up for an easy moist breast (yes Meg did laugh at this sentence!!). With any left over butter coat the rest of the outside of the chicken, as there is no wastage! As myself and Aaron love garlic I also put a few cloves of garlic and fresh parsley inside the cavity. This was then sat on top of a bed of garlic (surprise, surprise) and onions in a roasting tray. Approximately 400ml of water was added to the roasting tin with a chicken stock cube. This will help steam the chicken to keep it moist. The chicken is then covered in foil and roasted for 1 hour and 50 minutes  (170 degrees), with the last 20 minutes on cooking time with the foil off for a really crispy skin! WAIT! Remember to keep all of the onions and garlic and juices from the roasting tin. Add some more boiling water and gravy granules of your choice and you’ll never turn back to boring old gravy.

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Quick and simple roast potatoes coming up! Par boil your spuds and then once drained, bash them about a bit in the saucepan, really shake them up to get rough edges. Sprinkle over about a tsp of salt, a tsp of pepper and a tsp of paprika. Now for another splash of flavour. Crush a few garlic cloves (just with the palm of your hand and the work top (no fancy gadgets needed)) chuck them in a tray with some oil and put the oil in the oven for approximately 10 minutes to get it really hot. Remove the tray from the oven and put the potatoes in the oil (beware of splash backs) getting a nice coat of the garlic infused oil on each potatoes. Then return to the oven for 30-40 minutes on about 180 degrees, for crispy, flavour filled roasties.

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Cauliflower cheese, a must have for any roast dinner as far as we’re concerned.  As we said in the previous post, a good cheese sauce is something that many may be afraid of making from scratch but we hope that we can convince you just how simple and flavoursome it is to do it yourself. Four ingredients is all you’ll need: 25g of flour, 25g of butter, 500ml of milk and as much cheese as you like, the more the better is what I personally think. If you are feeling adventurous and have mustard powder kicking around, a cheeky tsp makes all the difference. Now there is two ways to make it. The fancy way which is what Aaron does. Where you melt the flour and the butter together to make a roux then gradually add the milk. Or the simple way that I do which is whack it all in the pan and stir like mad. With each method the key is to keep stirring to prevent it from sticking to the bottom of the pan (best to use a medium heat), which is Aaron’s favourite to wash up! Once the sauce has thickened, go mad with the cheese! This sauce is simply poured over pre-boiled cauliflower with some more, yes more, grated cheese on top (grate idea sweetheart!! Too cheesy?? I’ll stop). And into the oven it goes for 40 minutes!

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The final part is just boiling up some veg. Or for a bit of a twist, why not roast it in the oven. Coat whatever veg you like with some oil and some seasoning and any spices from your stash and into the oven for about 30-40 minutes (180 degrees) depending on the size of the veg. If you are roasting carrots or parsnips, or both and are feeling adventurous, try drizzling honey over them for the final 20 minutes of cooking.

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We did it! A roast dinner for under £7. There was a lot of left over chicken and gravy! So we thought we would cook up some more veg and make a quick casserole. However we didn’t quite make it there. Introducing out newest member to the family, Riley the gravy faced dog. Yes he got the gravy!

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Know a feast you’d like us to try? Leave us a comment with it and give us a price limit an we’ll work the Aargan magic!

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