When I grew up, meat was on the table only scarcely. Which made the Sunday roast my mother prepared for lunch ever so much more special. Besides she had quite a variety of recipes. It could be a sauerbraten or a beef roast, a larded beef roast, a pork roast, a crusted pork roast, a Kasseler (i.e. brined pork roast, a bit like ham), beef rouladen, mixed roasts (beef and pork), or turkey drumstick. She had a knack to create the most flavorful gravies from scratch, too. And there were veggies and dumplings.
A Sunday roast is a typical German family thing. At least it was when I grew up. But I cannot remember ever having seen it declared as such on menu in a restaurant. That was a surprise I was in for in England during my courting days. Every pub has a Sunday roast special on a Sunday noon. And though I never expected much when I tried one, I was absolutely happy to find that they were very individually created and, indeed, delicious every single time. The English Sunday roast also introduced me to Yorkshire pudding, which has become a family favorite with my husband and me, and roasted parsnips.
My mother used to make the actual roast the night before Sunday, as church-going would have prevented a more elaborate lunch. If dumplings were on the menu, she sometimes cooked and riced the potatoes for those also ahead of time. Ah, those dumplings …
A Kloss (pronounce: closs, Northern German), as our family called it, or Knödel (pronounce: ‘knuh-dell, Southern German), i.e. dumpling is generally a ball-shaped dough dish that either works as a side or even as an entrée. A dumpling can be made from potatoes, bread, semolina, or yeast dough. In my family, we had the potato variant and, very few times, bread dumplings.
These days, I rarely prepare a Sunday roast anymore. It’s not that it is too elaborate for me to make – you all know by now how much I love to cook. But my husband and I are simply not eating as much anymore. And the leftovers of one single Sunday roast usually last for three more meals. Sure, you can freeze them. But somehow, they never seem to taste as wonderful as when freshly prepared. Usually, I make a real Sunday roast or any meal that size only for very special occasions – such as Thanksgiving, Christmas, New Year’s, and Easter.
The holidays are coming up soon, and I’m already arguing whether to keep it traditionally American or to mix it up a bit. I mean, by the end of the year, I’m usually fed up with ham and turkey, having been fed that at so many occasions and sometimes dealing with additional leftovers from home. I think, I’ll be mixing it up a bit this year. I’ll definitely make no bread stuffing for the roast – why add another starch to the potato dish?! Mine consists of chestnuts, apples, onions, sage, rosemary, and thyme. Maybe I can talk my husband into making some Yorkshire puddings (he’s a real expert in creating these crisp, fluffy sides). I’ll definitely make my gravy from scratch – no packages or cans for me! As to veggies – I’ll go with whatever floats my husband’s boat. That way, I hope to escape being fed up with any specific dish by the end of the year.
How times have changed! Our Sunday roasts have become holiday roasts. The days when I sat down at a big family table have changed to sitting down at a smaller one for two. The former lunches have become dinner. And dumplings are rarely on our menu. Maybe I should bring them in more often. For old Sunday roast times’ sake. But somehow mine never taste as good as the ones my mother used to make back in the day. Though the recipe is hers. I guess, the home cooks among you know what I’m talking about.