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Cooking, early-mid 20th Century


Accompaniments for roast meals tasting like Granny's

Based on watching my older family cook in my childhood

For that really tasty old fashioned roast meal, there are a couple of things that I think are essential in addition to the dripping, gravy and roast root vegetables described on other pages. This page describes what they are and how I like to prepare and cook them, adapted from what I saw older members of my family do when I was a child.

Stuffing for roast chicken

In the past women made their own stuffing from breadcrumbs which they made from stale or oven-dried bread and they flavoured the breadcrumbs with chopped herbs. Then they bound the mixture together with hot water to make a solid lump which they stuffed into the cavity of the chicken. Hence the name stuffing. My memory is that the herbs were always sage and onion, but I can't say that other herbs weren't used in some households.

Two things have changed nowadays. One is that excellent stuffings are readily available in the shops in dried form and the other is the need to make sure that the stuffing doesn't absorb salmonella and remain party uncooked. This has led to the stuffing being cooked separately and no longer stuffed into the chicken.

My stuffing is always sage and onion which I prepare by mixing with hot water as described on the packet. Then I place it in an enamel dish and beside the roasting pan - but more of this below.

Incidentally I find that it is really important to have a stock of the old-style enamel dishes because they heat through much more quickly than glass or ceramic.

Sausages and sausage meat

When I cook my roasts it is always with an eye to being able to make bubble and squeak the next day. So I always include sausages.

Sausages are a more attractive accompaniment if they are small like the ones sold for sausages on sticks. However bought ones are not normally sold in a range of varieties. So I prefer to buy my favourite regular length chipolata sausages, pinch and twist them half way along and then cut them myself into shorter lengths. Each twist makes one normal length sausage into two short ones.

I cook most of my sausages placed on top of the stuffing. This keeps the stuffing moist as it cooks and doesn't lose the flavoursome fat that seeps out of the sausages as they cook. I use tongs to turn each sausage once during cooking.

Sausages on stuffing ready for cooking

Sausages on stuffing ready for cooking.

Sausages and stuffing after cooking

Sausages and stuffing after cooking.

Other accompaniments to roast meals

Roast beef was traditionally served with Yorkshire pudding and horseradish sauce; lamb with suet dumplings and mint sauce, mint jelly or redcurrant jelly and pork with apple sauce. I don't think I add any advice about the sauces because most shop-bought ones are excellent. I do remember it being my father's job in the 1940s to make the mint sauce. He used a knife and a chopping board to chop mint from the garden and added vinegar. I don't know if he also added sugar, but anyway I thought it was horrible and I much prefer today's bought mint jelly. I do, though, usually make my own apple sauce but that's because I have the apples and an easy way of cooking them in the microwave. I don't necessarily think that the result is any better than ready-made shop-bought apple sauce.

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