There are some traditions every man and woman should take part in, and one of the oldest and best is the Sunday roast. Sure, every pub and restaurant throughout the country will offer a roast dinner on Sunday you can enjoy without making a mess in your kitchen or having to tidy up your home for guests, but it just isn’t the same as a sit-down meal at your dining room table with close friends and family. To get it right, you don’t have to be a chef or the matriarch of your family. You simply need to follow a few simple steps.
When to Eat
Traditionally, the Sunday roast is either held as a luncheon or a dinner. Between the hours of noon and two o’clock in the afternoon, the roast is a lunch. If the meal occurs after seven in the evening, it’s a dinner. While there are some that schedule this meal in the mid-afternoon to avoid having to prepare three meals for the day, this is not traditional and many of your guests will find it wrong.
Who to Invite
Pay close attention to the space you have, the amount of food you want to prepare and the number of (matching) dishes available to you when inviting guests for a Sunday roast. If you only have six plates, don’t invite 10 guests.
Invite friends, family or anyone else you want to come to your lunch or dinner. Just make sure to do so in advance. Many people book tables at local pubs for Sunday roasts in advance. Letting them know at least a week before the meal will help ensure they don’t have other arrangements in place.
The food is perhaps the most important part of a Sunday roast, so it’s essential you get it right. Visit the butcher and get the best cuts of meat you can for the event. Be sure to have a vegetarian option available for your guests as well if necessary. Remember that getting too much food is almost never a problem, unless you're serving roast lamb. Many individuals don’t like cold leftover roast lamb cuts the next day. Choose between lamb, beef or turkey for the meal.
The side dishes you need will be determined by the type of meat you buy. For instance, Yorkshire pudding is a staple at a Sunday roast, but should only be served with roast beef. Make sure it’s homemade as well.
Roast potatoes are the only type of potato to enjoy with the Sunday roast. Avoid tatties, roasties or spuds. Brush the potatoes with goose fat or olive oil, season them, then roast them for at least 45 minutes.
Choose two vegetables, other than the potatoes, for the meal. Three vegetables are okay for special dinners, like those on Christmas and Easter, but having three or more vegetable options at any other Sunday roast is a no-no. If you choose carrots (and you should) always keep them rolled or barreled. Peas should never grace a Sunday roast. Whatever vegetable you choose, season them to compliment the meat and potatoes. If you’re serving sauces, like mint sauce, mustard, redcurrant jelly or event gravy, make sure they are decanted into small dishes. The gravy should have a ladle.
You don't need to spend a fortnight cleaning your home, but it should be presentable when your guests arrive. Make sure it is clean, tidy and comfortable. Check the bathroom for those small things that are easy to forget, like extra toilet rolls, hand soap and hand towels.
When your guests arrive, invite them to sit in your living room with a few snacks and a glass of wine while you put the finishing touches on your meal. Be sure you have a space to place their coats.
What to Wear
As a host, you want to make a good impression, but you also don’t want to go overboard. Sunday roasts may seem formal, but they typically fall between the casual and formal spectrum. For this reason, men’s suits may not be the best clothing options for your meal. Instead, focus on a dressy, but casual look. A fashion fit jacket or tweed jacket, combined with a navy shirt, matching cotton v-neck and five-pocket cotton jean can give you the right combination of sophistication and laid-back style. Pair the ensemble with semi-brogue leather sole dress shoes and a leather belt for a complete look.
Just hanging out with friends? Consider an even more casual look with a men’s tweed jacket and a pair of dark denim jeans.
Rules of Etiquette
The rules of etiquette are the same for a Sunday roast as any other meal.
- Determine the dietary requirements of your guests before the meal. Make adjustments as necessary.
- Pay attention to your guests. This means putting the phone away and not looking at it while the meal is happening. If conversation lulls, it’s your job as the host to help get it moving again.
- Keep drinks to a minimum. A glass or two of wine with the meal is acceptable, but too much alcohol can lead to you or your guests becoming drunk in public. Avoid the inevitable scene and change the drinks to water, tea or coffee after a few glasses.
- Avoid discussion of business, politics or religion. Don’t ruin your Sunday roast by starting a row at the table.
- Don’t make your guests wait too long. If your guests are following the rules of etiquette, they won’t begin eating until you (the host) do. Let them enjoy the meal while it’s hot by starting your dining within a few minutes of everyone gathering around the table.
- If all of the guests don’t know each other, make introductions. Be ready to tell each person a small tidbit about the other. For instance, “Alan, this is John, a colleague from work. You won’t believe the collection of antique swords and knives he has. It’s absolutely amazing.” This way, you’ve not only made introductions, but given two strangers a topic to discuss.
Looking forward to your next Sunday roast? Make the most of it by wearing the right men’s tweed jacket, following simple rules of etiquette and preparing the best food possible.