Sunday. Early 70s. Dad, Mr Jackson and Mr Browne are sitting in our lounge room (or perhaps in one of theirs – they took it in turns each week), drinking Courage Draft beer and talking all morning. Mr Jackson and Mr Browne smoke constantly, and all the doors are closed, so that by lunchtime it’s hard to see any of them through the haze.
It was a grown-ups-only affair, but quite often my best friend and I would creep in and sneak sips of beer when they were distracted with debates about football, Gough Whitlam, compulsory seat belts, or some such important 1970s business.
While they talked and drank, the wives slaved over hot stoves in their respective kitchens putting together each family’s Sunday Roast. Ah, the good old days!
At about 1 o’clock the call would go out that dinner was ready, and each family would gather to eat some unfortunate soul, along with a pile of roasted vegies and gravy.
How things have changed!
This is one of my earliest memories. It’s so hard now to imagine people smoking in their houses – let alone in non-smokers’ houses! But you have to remember that in those days my teacher held a cigarette in one hand while he wrote on the blackboard* with the other hand…and the child who cleaned the chalk off the dusters also had the job of emptying the ashtray! Yes, they really were the good old days!
I hated vegies back then (with the exception of potatoes, of course), and I didn’t like roast pork either, so quite often I ended up sitting at the table eating a peanut butter sandwich. Even so, I still get a nostalgic yearning for a family roast dinner at times. It’s definitely more for a shared hot dinner, sitting at the table with everyone gathered, than a desire for any kind of meat. I suppose it’s just a cultural/traditional thing.
Trying out a ‘bought’ vegie roast
Last week when I visited Mad Cowgirls, I came across the Vegusto and VBites roasts. It was the perfect time to give a mock meat roast a go, because my kids both hate anything that resembles meat, and they weren’t going to be around for dinner (which, now that I think about it, defeats the purpose of the ‘big family dinner’!).
Although, in the past, VBites (Redwood) mock meats have been the only ones I’ve actually enjoyed, this VBites roast looked more like the pale chicken loaf I ate as a child, and less like a traditional roast. I opted for the Vegusto, because it looked more ‘traditional’, and I do like their Piquant Cheese as a substitute for parmesan cheese on my pasta sometimes.
The only problem with the Vegusto roast is that it comes with no cooking instructions. But good old YouTube came through, as usual, with an instructional video (below).
Gravy and vegies
To accompany the roast, I cooked up Colleen Patrick-Goudreau’s mushroom gravy from The Vegan Table (using the olive and sesame oil variation), fried asparagus with walnuts and soy sauce, and roasted onion, potato and carrots.
Mushroom gravy was a winner
Last time I made the mushroom gravy, I partially pureed it. This time I left it with the mushroom slices whole – not only was it easier, but I liked it even more! Or perhaps it was the sesame oil that made the difference.
More cooking needed
The cooking instructions for the roast were easy to follow but it didn’t really look well cooked when I got it out of the oven. When I cut it, the centre was hot, but not piping hot as I’d expected. I turned the oven up to 220ºC (428ºF) and cooked it on fan forced for another 10 minutes without the foil. This helped it to look and feel a bit more ‘cooked’, but it still didn’t have any browned crispness on the outside, which was a bit disappointing.
It wasn’t really a problem though, because I poured the gravy over the top anyway.
The roast was good. It had a really nice texture. Not too bouncy like some vegie meats, but nice and dense and chewy, and slightly dryish (in a good way). It was much easier to slice than my homemade bean/lentil loaves, because it held together really well.
I wasn’t so keen on the taste. It had that funny sausagey taste that I’ve never enjoyed much, but a good helping of gravy balanced that.
The taste and texture both got the thumbs up from B who raved about it because he thought I’d made it myself – ha! I had told him I’d bought it, but he’d forgotten…or just didn’t listen. 🙂
For me, the gravy and the asparagus were the best parts of the meal, but the potatoes, carrots and roast were good too.
I’d probably make this again – B requested it – but I’d have to wait for the kids to be away from home again, because it was much too meaty for them to enjoy it**.
Although I think I prefer a homemade nut/lentil/bean loaf, they do take a lot more time. I’d say that if you’re nostalgic, and looking for a quick, easy or traditional ‘meaty’ style roast, this is a good one to try. It took me back to my childhood for a moment… but these days the meat isn’t dead animal, the smoker smokes outside and I get to have my own beer!
*yes, a BLACKboard not a whiteboard…and especially not an interactive whiteboard with internet capabilities!
**I take that back! My son came home and polished off all the leftovers, and thought it was really good. (B was cross because he had planned to use the leftovers for a sandwich today.)
Fox Hotel has vegan roast dinners!
If you’re in Melbourne and feel like a Sunday roast but can’t be bothered cooking, you might want to try the Fox Hotel in Collingwood. They have a regular Sunday roast with a vegan option. The menu looks great – but it’s always changing, so check each week!
How to cook Vegusto Roast
(although you might need to add a bit longer to the cooking time, or make it a bit hotter.)