If you grew up in a Canadian house that went to church every Sunday, the Sunday Roast may be a very familiar event to you. Alongside piles of veggies and gravy, the Sunday Roast is a hardy, heart-warming meal where families connect after a long week of work. But has the tradition changed at all in your family over the years? Which practices and ingredients should be kept, and which should be left to the past? We turned to some local butchers for insight.
SEASONING AND SPICES
The butchers we spoke to agreed: you don’t need a complicated seasoning blend to make a good roast. Tyler Forget at Country Produce says that while he may use the occasional rub on his roast, he likes to keep it simple. “I don’t marinade, personally. I season with sea salt, ground pepper, and garlic. But, I definitely recommend sea salt over table salt.” Michael Cortese, co-owner of Cordino’s Fine Meats and Deli, agrees: “If you’re buying proper, high quality beef, you really just need salt and pepper.” Jim Brass, owner of Country Meat Cuts, has some words of warning, however: “Salt is an extractor of moisture; use a coarse salt, use little salt, or put salt on after.”
CUTS AND COOKING TECHNIQUES
When choosing a cut for your roast, elements like budget, cook time, tenderness, and plain personal preference come into play. “For a slow cook, I would go with a blade roast,” says Forget. Cortese has the same choice: “the blade roast is one of the cheaper roasts, but I would personally take it over prime rib any day.” He adds, “But you have to cook it real slow—I put it in the oven at 225 degrees and let it cook all day.” For leaner cuts, like an inside round, eye round, or outside round, you need a low and slow heat, whereas more expensive cuts, like prime rib, benefit from an initial blast of high heat. But really, Brass insists that choosing a cut of meat is “kind of like saying, ‘What’s better: an apple, an orange, or a banana?’” Ultimately, says Brass, “One is not better from the other; each has its own texture and flavour profile”.
Buying local beef is important for a number of reasons. As Cortese says, “It boosts the local economy and supports local farmers. It’s very important with everything that’s going on in the food industry.” Buying local beef also offers quality assurance. Brass spoke about the difference between buying from grocery store chains and local butcher shops: “Whether you pick a coat, a pair of socks, or steak, if it’s two dollars in one place and ten dollars at another, that should make you ask: why?” Essentially, says Brass, “We are in no position to go up against the big guys. They buy by the trailer-load. We may pay more for our product, but in many ways, we buy a different product.” And that difference may be the thing to boost your Sunday Roast to new, heavenly heights!
by Emily Bednarz
Country Meat Cuts
Cordino’s Meat and Deli