What’s the best thing about the winter season?
For us a hearty roast dinner comes high on our list: the first one in October is a real event and I try and make it a regular occurrence, once a fortnight or so throughout the winter months. There’s something so hearty and warming about spending the afternoon pottering round a hunk of meat while the kids watch films or craft at the kitchen table. When the weather outside is frightful you’ve got to take your kicks where you can get them, am I right?
So when OvenPride asked me if I fancied cooking two turkey roasts in two weeks with a hefty oven clean in the middle I was well up for it.
Now, oven cleaning is on my ‘hate to do’ house list. I’m generally all-round mega house proud but there’s something about cleaning the oven (and the bathroom, actually) that I really hate. It probably gets done once every six months at the most and is the bane of my life yet I can never bring myself to pay 50 quid for someone to come round to do it when I can do it for just a couple of pounds myself.
OvenPride wanted to prove to me it would be worth it, though – to see if there would be a noticeable difference to the taste of my roast dinner by me cleaning the oven. My oven gets a lot of use, probably once a day, so I was keen to see what would happen.
Because these weeks in December are always pretty time strapped I set myself a simultaneous challenge: could I cook a roast dinner in two hours? I was tasked with preparing a turkey, roast veggies, roast potatoes, stuffing and gravy and set to work.
And it worked! Though I was hoping for leeway of an hour, a hospital appointment of Elfie’s ran late so I literally made a whole turkey Christmas roast dinner from start to finish in two hours. Your kitchen may be unrecognisable at the end of those 120 minutes but it can be done!
Obligatory ‘thank god I pulled that off’ glass of wine, natch.
I wanted to vary the veggies slightly both weeks so didn’t do all these at once; but if you pick a selection you should be able to get your roast done in two hours, too:
2 Hour Roast Dinner
Turkey – cooked to instructions. Mine was 2 hrs + resting time
Roast potatoes – parboiled for 6 mins then cooked in beef dripping (YUM).
Stuffing – minced pork, garlic, finely chopped red onion, thyme, chopped apple – mix well, roll into golf ball sizes and cook for 20-25 mins.
Pigs in blankets – bought in
Cranberry sauce – punnet of cranberries cooked in 1tbsp demerera sugar and a splash of balsamic vinegar
Cauliflower cheese – my own recipe but kind of like this.
Red cabbage – this recipe but cooked on the hob for one hour on a slightly higher heat and subbing the apples for dried cranberries (no time for extra chopping!).
Gravy – turkey juices mixed with water and a Knorr gravy pot + some flour to thicken
Flower Sprouts, roasted.
Maple roasted carrots – carrots chopped in half and then into chunky strips, tossed in maple syrup and olive oil and roasted for 20 mins.
For the first roast Bryony and her girls came over to help us tackle the massive turkey. It was delicious and a lovely thing to do with all our kids together and as I had clean ovens on the brain I really did notice the effect the hot oven had on the smell of the house. I’m a fan of cooking hot olive oil-coated jacket potatoes on a very high heat (nothing better than those crispy skins) which is all well and good until they drip oil all over your oven and you’re too tired to clean it off. It’s this residue oil that burns, leaving a charred smell in the house: not ideal when you’re as open plan as we are here, you can’t escape it. Sorry for the smell, Bryony and fam!
You know your oven’s in a bad way when your lovely Diptyque candle won’t even come close to getting rid of the smell. Despite that everyone seemed to enjoy their turkey and tucked in happily.
The day before our next roast I followed the OvenPride instructions and left the cleaner to do its magic on the oven and the wire shelving overnight. The next morning it really was easy to wipe away that horrid stubborn burnt-on oil and grime, it simply washed away. It took a bit of elbow grease to remove all the cleaner but I was pleasantly surprised that it wasn’t the struggle I usually find it is.
We invited Daddy over for dinner the evening of Elfie’s nativity performance as I thought we could do with a couple more hands (or mouths) to help with turkey round two. This was the first meal I cooked in the oven post-clean and in all honesty I noticed such a difference in the smell. There’s usually a bit of a whiff as soon as I turn the oven on but there was nothing at all this time, just our Christmas candles (apple cinnamon, divine).
I also noticed the turkey tasted much cleaner than before – no hint of smoke at all. It was definitely a tastier meal!
I asked the kids what they thought and they thoroughly agreed, though I doubt they knew what on earth I was talking about ;)
I’ve popped a note in my diary now for bi-monthly oven cleans. I think if it’s in there I’ll be much less likely to let it get in the state it was before, and now I know how much of the difference it has on the smell of the house and the taste of the food I’m an oven cleaning convert.
Huge thank-yous to OvenPride for sending us over some cleaner and vouchers for our roast and encouraging me to get scrubbing.