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Roast Dinner Day: Why This Meal Has Become a Beloved Tradition

Roast Dinner Day: Why This Meal Has Become a Beloved Tradition

The Sunday roast dinner is a beloved tradition throughout the UK, with a long and detailed history. 

On this roast dinner day, families and friends come together to eat a delicious home-cooked lunch, or take a trip to the local pub. Comprising cooked meat, potatoes and an assortment of vegetables served with gravy, today there are lots of different takes on this family favourite. 

In this article, we dive into the history behind the roast and take a look at the components that make up the perfect roast dinner

Historical Origins

The roast dinner originated in Britain during the reign of King Henry VII in 1485. In fact, Henry VII’s royal guards ate so much roast beef that they became known as the Beefeaters, a nickname that is still used today!

In mediaeval times, people used to consume a lot more meat, especially royalty and the nobility. Traditionally, the meat from the week’s hunt would be roasted on a large spit in a fireplace while people were at the morning church service. Beef from oxen was commonly used, but chicken, pork and lamb were also eaten. 

Just like today, Yorkshire puddings were a popular accompaniment to the early roast dinner, although they were actually served as a starter before the main meal so that diners wouldn’t eat as much meat, which was more expensive. Any leftover meat did not go to waste and would be used in pies and stews throughout the following week. 

Although today the meat is cooked in the oven rather than over a fire, the roast dinner remains a beloved tradition in many cultures, from the UK’s Sunday roast to the American Thanksgiving meal.

Cultural Significance:

You’ll find roast dinners in lots of regions and countries, where they have become a firm part of that country’s culture. Each country has put its own unique spin on how to make the perfect roast dinner, leading to many regional variations and speciality dishes:

  • UK

The home of the Sunday roast, in the UK people love to enjoy their Sunday dinner with family and friends. The ceremonial carving of the meat is at the heart of the tradition. 

  • US

Although Sunday roasts are not as common in the US, the Thanksgiving meal is a much-loved tradition centred around food. Believed to have started in 1621, Thanksgiving takes place on the fourth Thursday in November and typically features a roast turkey, mashed potatoes, sweet potatoes, cranberry sauce and desserts like pumpkin pie and pecan pie. 

  • Australia

Just like the UK, Aussies love a roast dinner on a Sunday, which normally features roast lamb served with vegetables and gravy. 

  • France

The French gave the English the nickname ‘rosbifs’, or ‘roast beefs’ for their love of eating meat, but roast dinners are also popular in France, particularly roast chicken. This ‘poulet rôti’ is usually served alongside potatoes and seasonal vegetables, or in a casserole dish like coq au vin.

  • Argentina

In Argentina, Sunday lunch is also the most important family meal of the week, with ‘carne asada’ and barbecued beef being the most favoured dishes.

  • Japan

In  Japan, nikujaga is a popular dish to eat with family on a Sunday. This translates as ‘meat and potatoes’ and is a meat stew made using very thinly-sliced beef seasoned with soy sauce and sugar. 

Social and Family Bonds

Aside from mouthwatering food, roast dinners are also important from a social perspective. Coming together to enjoy a meal strengthens bonds and traditions and gives us the chance to tell stories, reminisce about good times and make new memories.

Food is one of the most important parts of our culture and national identity and creates a unique connection to other people and places. Although families grow up and friendship groups change, a roast dinner is an opportunity to reunite with old friends and loved ones, with people often travelling significant distances to share a meal together. 

Culinary Delights 

There are many variations on how to make the best Sunday roast and the meal is easy to tailor to accommodate different preferences.

The main ingredients on a Sunday roast menu are usually:

  • Meat. Beef, pork, lamb or chicken, the meat is the centrepiece of the whole meal and should be well-seasoned and roasted to juicy perfection.
  • Roast potatoes. The ultimate roastie should be golden and crispy on the outside and soft and fluffy on the inside. Lots of people also like roast parsnips.
  • Yorkshire puddings. The traditional accompaniment to roasted meat, Yorkshire puddings are made from a batter of milk, eggs and flour and are the perfect vessel for soaking up leftover gravy.
  • Vegetables. Seasonal vegetables are a key part of any roast dinner and can include carrots, peas, cabbage, Brussels sprouts, leeks, and cauliflower. 
  • Gravy. The finishing touch to any good roast is the gravy. Gravy is often made using the meat’s juices but you can also make vegetarian versions like onion gravy. 
  • Sauces. Each meat has an accompanying sauce pairing, such as chicken and bread sauce, lamb and mint jelly, pork and apple sauce, beef and horseradish, and turkey and cranberry. 

Other additions to a roast dinner include stuffing, cauliflower cheese and pigs in blankets – don’t be afraid to experiment and use your favourite foods to create your ultimate Sunday roast!

Although meat is traditional, vegetarians and vegans should not feel left out of this tradition, with delicious substitutes like butternut squash wellington, celeriac steak, and nut roast to make the perfect Sunday roast for non meat-eaters. 

Modern Relevance

Although it’s true that we have a much more fast-paced lifestyle than mediaeval times, with an abundance of fast food and grab-on-the-go meals, roast dinners have managed to retain their status in modern culinary culture. There are now lots of vegetarian, vegan and pre-prepared roast dinners on the market to cater to all types of diet and lifestyle.

However, if you have the time, a never ending roast at Gaucho is the perfect way to spend a relaxing Sunday afternoon. A bottomless roast dinner featuring the best quality beef, golden roast potatoes and Yorkshire puddings cooked in beef dripping, our Gaucho roast is served with tasty seasonal vegetables and rich red wine gravy. 

We hope that this delicious article about roast dinners has put you in the mood for your next one! You can find our decadent never-ending Gaucho roast at the following locations every Sunday between 12pm-5pm:


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