The Sunday roast is perhaps the most common feature of
English cooking. The Sunday dinner traditionally includes roast potatoes
accompanying a roasted joint of meat such as
roast beef, lamb, or a roast
chicken and assorted vegetables, themselves generally roasted or boiled and
served with a gravy.
Left: Sunday roast, consisting of roast
beef, mashed potatoes, veg and Yorkshire
Yorkshire pudding and
gravy is now often served as an
accompaniment to the main course, although it was originally served first as a
The practice of serving a roast dinner on a Sunday is related to the
elaborate preparation required, and to the housewife's practice of performing
the weekly wash on a Monday, when the cold remains of the roast made an
easily-assembled meal. Sunday was once the only rest day after a six-day working
An elaborate version of roast dinner is eaten at Christmas,
with almost every detail rigidly specified by tradition. Since its widespread
availability after World War II the most popular Christmas roast is turkey,
superseding the goose of Dickens's time.
Left: Christmas turkey.
Before the period of cheap turkeys, roast chicken would be
more common than goose, goose being unsuitable for small groups of diners.
Game meats such as venison which were traditionally the
domain of higher classes are occasionally also eaten by those wishing to
experiment with a wider choice of foods, due to their promotion by celebrity
chefs, although it is not usually eaten frequently in the average household.