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Roasted Maris Pipers
Debbi Voisey

Roast beef with Yorkshire pudding accompanied by "roast potatoes, vegetables, and horseradish sauce" is considered by National Geographic as the national dish of England. 

Everyone has their own method of preparation, cooking and serving and although most people prepare and serve it on the same day, some people, like Amanda’s sister Eliza, cook the beef the night before and let it go cold until serving it the next day. Amanda considers this the behaviour of a psychopath. Putting hot gravy on cold beef is typical of Eliza, who throws hot remarks onto cold arguments all the time, in an attempt to revive them and serve them up to anyone willing to partake.

Roast potatoes are tricky; getting them crispy enough. Goose fat is considered the best fat, due to its high smoking point. Eliza has the highest smoking point of anyone Amanda has ever known. When they were kids, she would hang out of their bedroom window for about two hours every night, smoking one after the other and tossing the butts down into the gutter of the sloping roof. Now, she still smokes like a chimney even though her lungs are crispier than roasted maris pipers, and even though she knows she doesn’t have many hot dinners left to prepare.

The secret to a great Yorkshire pudding is letting the batter rest. Eliza often asks Amanda to give it a rest and leave her alone, she’s tired. But it’s hard when Amanda is waiting for magic to happen, like Yorkshire puddings to rise, or shadows on a sister’s lungs to disappear as if by a miracle.

Horseradish pairs well with beef, because it cuts through the rich flavour and gives the beef a lighter taste. Amanda thinks that’s stupid, because why would you choose to eat something that you needed to change the flavour of? Why would you want to change anything? Why not just choose to love something for the way it is, and not try to make it something it’s not? But then she thinks of Eliza, and wishes with all her heart she was different.

 

Whether you prepare and serve your roast dinner on the same day or not, it is important to include family and close loved ones in the ritual. And it’s important to eat the meal together as often as possible, preferably with lots of wine. A full-bodied, dry, Bordeaux with liberal amounts of tannin is a wonderful accompaniment. Whenever she gets to her second bottle Amanda can drown out the anger she feels for Eliza and pretend a part of herself won’t die when she does.

 

 

Debbi is a full-time, writer, writing tutor and mentor. She had two novellas-in-flash published in 2021, Only About Love, and The 10:25. The former was shortlisted for the Arnold Bennett Prize in 2022. Her novel, The Reset, is forthcoming in 2025 with Bloodhound Books. She has a website at debbivoisey.co.uk and can be find tweeting @DublinWriter

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