Top Tips for a Roast Dinner

Why not treat your mum to some much-deserved me-time this Mothering Sunday? A simple kitchen take-over and the promise of a traditional roast dinner together is sure to make her day.

If you’re not sure where to start, don’t despair, Ricky Stephenson, chef at The Harley Café at Welbeck, has all the tips to help make a winning roast dinner. Here he shares some of his advice to ensure you have all the ingredients needed to dish up the perfect Mother’s Day lunch.



From choosing the best meat and creating the best roasties to his top ‘hacks’ on reducing the washing up, read on…    

“My first tip is buy the best quality meat that you can; that’s first and foremost,” says Ricky. “It makes all the difference to the flavour and the tenderness and it’s the centrepiece for the whole meal.”

He recommends the lightly cured pork with apricot and pistachio nuts, available from Welbeck Farm Shop. “The meat is farmed within a few miles of the shop and is free range, which means it has been raised with higher animal welfare standards and so is full of flavour,” he says. “It has a taste of a combination of gammon and pork and its texture is delicious.”

“The key to getting it just right is getting the right temperature for the oven. Simply pre-heating the oven for 20 minutes to get it nice and hot before putting the meat in the oven helps to seal the meat. Sealing creates a crust that keeps the meat moist and gives it a better flavour,” is Ricky’s top tip.

Secondly, rest the meat for roughly half as long as the cooking time. Put some foil over the top of it and it will stay warm for longer, plus it keeps the meat tender.

Ricky’s recipe for lightly cured pork with apricot and pistachio nuts served with cauliflower cheese and roast potatoes (for 4-6 people you will need between 1/1.5kg dependent on how big your appetites are)



To cook the pork:

  • Put the meat in an ovenproof inch-deep roasting tray.
  • Cook the meat at 160 degrees in a pre heated oven for roughly 50 minutes per kg of meat.
  • Once the meat is cooked, take it out of the oven and rest. 

To prepare the gravy:

  • Place the roasting tray on your cooker top over a medium heat. Add a tablespoon of plain flour to the tray used to cook the meat (added bonus: fewer pots, saving on washing up) and with a spoon scrape the little pieces of meat and sticky bits from the bottom of the tray and add a bit of chicken stock. It will form a paste, add a little liquid a bit at a time until it is of a gravy consistency. Add to a pan and simmer until ready to serve with the meal.

Cauliflower cheese ingredients:

  • 1 cauliflower
  • 2 leeks
  • 2 tablespoons of plain flour
  • 2 tablespoons of butter
  • 1 litre of whole milk (can use semi-skimmed but whole milk provides a richer flavour)
  • ½ teaspoon of black pepper
  • ½ teaspoon of salt
  • ½ teaspoon of mustard powder (or 1 teaspoon of English Mustard)
  • ½ teaspoon of cayenne pepper (optional)
  • 200 grams of grated Montgomery’s Cheddar or Lincolnshire Poacher cheese

To create the cauliflower cheese:

  • Melt butter in a pan over a medium heat
  • Add flour and stir in until absorbed and until it turns into a paste (roux).
  • Add milk very slowly – it takes about 5 to 6 minutes, stirring continuously.
  • Season with pepper, salt and mustard and add in ¾ of the cheese and take off the heat, stir until it is melted and then set aside.
  • Break the cauliflower into florets and cut washed leek into inch pieces.
  • Blanch the cauliflower in boiling salted water for four minutes and the leeks for three minutes (use the same water – it adds to the flavour and saves on the washing up).
  • Drain the water and put them in an oven dish and pour the sauce over the top and add the remaining cheese.

TOP TIP: Cauliflower cheese can be produced like this in advance and then put in a fridge. It can be cooked the following day for 45 minutes in a 160-degree oven, until golden.

Why not add crumbs (either bought or home-made) on top to create a crunchy gratin?


To create the best roasties:
Ricky suggests using Maris Piper, Malfona or King Edward potatoes as they’re all good for roasting.Cut them in half, boil for 10 minutes in salted water and then drain.

  • Give them a good shake in a colander to break the edges a little and leave them to cool for five minutes. It will make them slightly crispier when cooked.
  • Heat up 2 tablespoons of oil (or fat of your choosing - we suggest either duck or goose fat as this will help get your potatoes even crisper) and place the potatoes in and season with salt and pepper and a clove of garlic and leave in skins and then cover with a sprig of rosemary.
  • Put in a pre-heated oven at 160 degrees between 1 hour to 1 hour 20 minutes until golden and crispy. 

Lightly cured pork with apricot and pistachio nuts is available from Welbeck Farm Shop, along with the other ingredients listed in Ricky’s recipe. Should you want to treat both you and your Mum to a special lunch together, you can always stop by at The Harley Café, of course.