Sunday best

Mark Hix creates the perfect Mother's Day lunch - and you'll still have time to nip down the pub beforehand
Click to follow
Indy Lifestyle Online

Mothering Sunday is one of those dates in the calender that's been hijacked by the PR industry. An excuse to try and sell mumsy stuff and to make sure pubs and restaurants are fully booked for lunch.

Mothering Sunday is one of those dates in the calender that's been hijacked by the PR industry. An excuse to try and sell mumsy stuff and to make sure pubs and restaurants are fully booked for lunch.

I have to admit I've never been one for Mother's Day celebrations; my parents got divorced when I was young and I spent more time with my dad. But I'll happily cook for family and friends any Sunday, and it has to be better than trying to find a last-minute table at the pub. Think of all the uniformly brown meat in thick gravy and bullet-hard potatoes. Roasts come into their own at home, and there's nothing like gathering around a joint and waiting your turn as someone carves. For this classic Sunday lunch I've suggested something different either side of the meat as well.

But doesn't it all involve getting up at the crack of dawn to cook and a frantic effort to pull it all together? Not if you follow my advice.

With the groundwork all done the night (or even during the day if you want to go out on Saturday night) before, you can be in the pub until lunchtime with your mates, then saunter home to finish everything off. In theory, anyway. In the business we call it having a good mise en place – that's the classical French term for everything being ready, not for sitting in the pub when there's work to be done. The main thing is to be well organised – it's one of the qualities that makes a good cook.

Restaurants keep prepared and blanched vegetables ready in the fridge. Sauces are ready-made up to the point when they're finished before serving. Meat and fish portions are lined up on trays in the fridge awaiting cooking. You can take the same approach – in miniature – at home, so all that's left is the finishing touches.

Potatoes can be boiled and fluffed up the day before, then refrigerated ready for roasting. If you have a microwave you can even have the veg ready to go. Pre-cook them and refresh in cold water to stop them discolouring and cooking any more. Then just toss them in melted butter, season and add a little chopped parsley, put them in a dish, cover with clingfilm and stash in the fridge until you're ready to heat them in the microwave. Even further in advance, make your own gravy with bones from the butcher. I keep pre-made gravy in the freezer in little pots. Add it to the roasting tin with a little wine and there's your home-made gravy. Apple sauce that you've made earlier can just be heated up, and the stuffing can be waiting to go in the oven with the meat.

Of course you can cheat. Buy gravy if you dread making it. And you can pick up ready-prepared veg. I noticed some stunning purple-sprouting broccoli in Marks & Spencer the other day. When I got back to The Ivy, the supplier had let us down, so the veg cook was round to M&S like a shot. If it's good enough for The Ivy, it should be good enough for mum.

Comments