How To Cook The Perfect Sunday Roast


From Madeleine Shaw’s high and fast topside, to Nigella’s low and slow, heavy herbed lamb, here is how to get the best results from your Sunday Roast every time

Words Miriam Carey

How to make the perfect Sunday Roast

When it comes to traditional British dishes you can’t get much better than the humble roast. Originally it was the dish people cooked after attending church on a Sunday, hence often being called Sunday roast, however it is a versatile dish we often turn to on many occasions, including dinner parties, Christmas, Easter, Mother’s Day.

In its simplest form the Sunday roast is not much more than roast meat, herbs, a good quality fat, and selection of vegetables – yet it is so delicious. Being no more than its whole ‘food components’ the Sunday roast finds itself a health option. Also, depending on which cut of meat you buy and the cooking time, or indeed vegan dish you go for, the roast could be adapted for an evening or midweek.

Also, for those scared of the multi-tasking element, choose a simple recipe to start with, for example a one pot roast.


The meat is one of the most essential components of a roast. The typical choices tend to be chicken, beef, lamb or for a vegetable-based option – a nut roast. However, there is a whole host of other options available – vegetable wellington, roast salmon or sea bass, rack of lamb, partridge, quail, goose or venison.

Nigella is known for cooking a good roast lamb, the roast chicken is one of Mark Hix’s specialities in his restaurant, and for a mini mid-week roast, beef is one of Madeleine Shaw’s favourites.

Roast Beef


What you need to think about when roasting beef is which cut to buy as you can roast so many bits of cow. Classic cuts include silverside, topside, rump, sirloin and fillet, which are usually all sold boneless. For beginners, boneless ribeye is probably the simplest tastiest option – cut from the eye of the ribs. However, roasting on the bone is known to provide the best flavour.

A good tip is to buy your joint from a butcher or market, not a supermarket. Beef should be dry to touch, have some marbling and not be bright red. Meat sweats so it should be hung to dry not vacuum packed – if the colour is red the meat has been kept in an oxygen-free environment.

Madeline Shaw chooses topside which is simply seasoned, before roasting for 40 minutes, in this easy mid-week roast recipe.

Roast Chicken


The main tip when buying chicken to roast is to purchase the best quality one you can and usually the most expensive. At a farm shop you should be able to find a bird that is organic and has lived free-range. Even if it was not reared on the farm they are likely to have a good relationship with the supplier.

In terms of seasoning you have lots of options. Using lemon will give you a citrusy flavour, or alternatively try orange or lime. This recipe using Valencia oranges, hot sauce, honey and ginger makes a lovely golden roast.

For a Scandi inspired dish try this roast chicken with dill and leeks.

This simply seasoned recipe by Mark Hix use salt, pepper, thyme, rosemary, parsley and a generous amount of butter. The bird is cooked for 45 mins and rested for 10. Above all chicken likes to be not overcooked and likes to rest.

Roast Lamb


Cooking lamb is similar to beef, you must tackle the ultimatums: bone in or bone out? Quick and high or low and slow? Boneless cuts of lamb are easier to deal with – especially when serving, however the bone yields tons of deep flavour.

As for the temperature, when you’re cooking tender portions of lamb, you can get away with quicker cooking times at higher temperatures. A cut from the centre of the lamb, for example the rack, is softer and more tender. A cut from lower part of the body such as the shoulder tends to be less tender, so should be cooked longer and slower temperatures so it falls of the bone.

Lamb, especially strong-flavoured, gamey varieties, need marinating in strong flavours. In this recipe Nigella uses oregano, rosemary, garlic, lemon, orange, olive oil and salt, and slow cooks the lamb for 140 minutes before resting for 30 mins.

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