The last decade or so of British chefs looking back to the great English traditions meant that the menus of high-profile chefs were now featuring haute versions of, well, steak & kidney pie. Even better, that greatest of all English traditions, the Sunday roast, has made its mark on the culinary trendometer. (Amusingly, the Guardian declared its revival in 2009, the Telegraph called it a “thing of the past” in 2012 – and then the Guardian last year hailed it as “a tradition worth preserving.”)
Whatever your view, Chef James Durrant is certainly the man you want at the job. He’s got Michelin-starred cred to spare, having done time in two of Gordon Ramsay’s top restaurants, as well as holding the Exec Chef title at Jason Atherton’s Maze. Now he’s at the helm of one of London’s most high-profile openings, the fittingly named The Game Bird at the plush, celeb-fave (David Beckham loves it) Stafford Hotel in posh St James. And they’re doing a quite a wonderful Sunday roast, we’re happy to report.
“It came to prominence back in 1485 during the reign of King Henry VII,” Durrant tells us, “when The King and his Guard – the Yeoman Wardens – dined on a feast of roast beef following church on a Sunday. This tradition has led to the Yeoman Wardens affectionately being termed ‘Beefeaters.’ To this day, beef is the ‘King’ of the Sunday roast, and we have decided to keep the tradition running at The Game Bird. Our mouth-watering roast rib of beef is carved table-side from a handmade trolley and served with all the trimmings.” – –
What else can one expect at The Game Bird? Four- and eight-course tasting menus might include Rhug Estate fallow deer tartare, Orkney sea scallops with roasted cauliflower, smoked roe and seaweed butter, and pigeon with parsnips, cavolo nero and “bullshot” – all very English, to be sure. And interiors to match. It’s actually named for WWII resistance fighter and spy Nancy Wake; and with its etched ceiling, charmingly patterned chairs, Chesterfield style banquettes, and Deco lighting fixtures, it certainly is a throwback to more, shall we say, mannered times.
Trad-loving Anglophiles that we are, we asked Durrant to give us a peek behind the magic of his perfect Sunday roast. And he was gracious enough to let us in on some of his most treasured recipes. (See below.)
“There’s no general rule to creating a fantastic roast dinner,” he insists, “apart from choosing good meat and taking the time to create a great gravy. When it comes to vegetables, add your favorites that are in season, this way they will be more flavorsome. Spring greens with a pinch of nutmeg work great with roast chicken, or a lovely peppery swede and carrot mash work great with beef.”
Roast Rib of Beef, Yorkshire Pudding Cauliflower Cheese, Honey Roast Carrots and Roast Potatoes Beef and gravy Ingredients 1 x 2.50 kg fore rib of beef (with 2 bones) 1 bulb of garlic, broken into cloves A few sprigs of Thyme Sea salt Freshly ground black pepper Olive oil A knob of butter 2 x onion sliced 150g plain flour 500ml red wine 1.5ltr hot beef stock Method
Yorkshire Pudding Ingredients 100g plain flour Pinch salt 3 large free-range eggs 225ml milk Sunflower oil Method
Roast Potatoes Ingredients 8 potatoes (such as Maris Piper), peeled and cut into large chunks Method
Cauliflower Cheese Ingredients 2 cloves of garlic 50 g unsalted butter 50 g plain flour 600 ml milk 500 g fresh broccoli 75 g mature cheddar cheese 50 g parmesan 1 kg fresh cauliflower 2 slices of stale bread 2 sprigs of fresh thyme 25 g flaked almonds Olive oil Method
Honey Roast Carrots Ingredients 1kg Chantenay or other small carrots peeled Thyme sprigs 100 g butter 3 tbsp veg oil 2 tbsp white wine vinegar 2 tbsp clear honey Method
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