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  • Katie Home Cook

Britain's Best Home Cook, Roast Week

Updated: Jan 30, 2020

Phew….. I’m glad that is over! That has been the hardest hard week for me so far.For our “Ultimate” this week our brief was to make a Roast with a potato side dishes and two additional side dishes. Sunday dinner is something we always aim to have in our house, most weeks we manage to sit down as a family and enjoy it, depending on my shifts. I enjoy making a variety of different roasts so I had lots to choose from, I did consider making stuffed lamb hearts, another family favourite, but would they have met the brief? I knew what roast I was going to make, a roast ox heart… lamb seems like the obvious choice as I’m Welsh but I thought at least one or two of the others would be doing lamb and I was right there were 3 other contestants making lamb. I was certain no one else would making an ox heart!!

Roast Ox Heart

Ox heart is a traditional roast from way back and I would love to see it make a comeback. The meat tastes like beef, and if cooked right it’s tender and downright delicious! Also unlike most cuts of meat, it is economical, most hearts cost between £5 and £7 and it’s all meat. One heart will feed my family of 6 for around 3 days, 2 dinners each and leftovers for sandwiches. Ox heart is also full of B vitamins and hardly any fat so it actually good for you, my kids loves it and I can’t urge you enough to try to yourself, if you like beef you’ll love this! So you might be wondering why this was a difficult week for me, I love roast dinners and I was happy with my choice, however, usually I cook my heart in the slow cooker for 4-5 hours, to get the right texture, 2 ½ hours wasn’t enough time for an ox heart. This was the only dish I practiced over and over again, I must have made about 8 ox hearts in one week, the butcher must have thought I was mad. I managed to devise a way to cook the heart as a pot roast, but as each heart is a different size, each time I tried the heart was either slightly under or slightly over.

The night before the Roast Ultimate challenge everyone seemed quite relaxed, most people seemed to be getting used to cooking in the kitchen and most were looking forward to making a roast dinner. I on the other hand was consumed with worry, I was terrified I would be serving either undercooked chewy or a tough overcooked heart!! That night I had asked Trevor if he would help me to tie my heart, he agreed and told me he had brought some really good butchers string which he would use! We had become very close over our time in the house, so much so we even started dressing the same!

Walking into the kitchen on the first day I was feeling awful… then Dan started talking about how much he loves a roast dinner, we thought he liked pies, but apparently he loves a roast even more. Dan says “it’s more than a meal” and all the judges agree on the importance of roast potatoes! I wanted to do roast potatoes, but my oven was just too busy and on a lower heat, I wouldn’t have got them crispy enough in the time…. Also Alan, my husband makes much better ones than me! I was in big trouble!

Stuffed Ox Heart

So we start cooking, the heart was much smaller than the ones I’ve been practicing with, but Trevor reassures me that it’s a good thing because it means it’s come from a younger cow and will be tastier. My potato side was a Welsh Onion Cake, it is my favourite ways to eat potatoes, it’s very simple to prepare and super tasty, full of buttery soft onions and the flavours of rosemary and thyme. I make it all the time and enjoy it on its own for a light supper or it works well as a side dish for lots of meals.

I was also making a swede and turnip gratin, layers of swede and turnip covered in warm garlicky cream, topped with brown bread crumbs and welsh Caerphilly cheese!! There’s always room for a bit of Welsh cheese. I wanted to incorporate swede but make it a bit special, so I came up with this recipe for the show, it is now firm favourite, I definitely recommend giving it a go!

I wanted to recreate what I normally make for a Sunday dinner but making it a bit more special, so I also made baby carrots, extra special sprouts, a medley of green veggies, rich gravy and thyme flavoured Yorkshire puddings, you’ve got to have Yorkshire puddings with beef haven’t you? Why had I chosen to make so many sides?

Whilst I was cooking Dan came over and said how excited he was to try my ox heart, he said that he’s had ox heart before but not whole and roasted, fingers crossed it was going to be cooked right!

Time was ticking on and everything was going ok in my kitchen, it was time to get the heart out, I wanted it to rest and not overcook. The shape was a bit different to what I was used to but I would just have to surround it in Yorkshire puddings! My Yorkshire puddings by the way, were like the best they have ever been, they rose beautifully, and they were crisp and light at the same time! I was chuffed.A few of the other contestants said that they felt like cooking the roast in the kitchen was just like being at home cooking on a Sunday. Well it wasn’t, my kitchen on the show was far more peaceful…. hahahaha! My house is always manic, especially on a Sunday, with lots of “when will dinner be ready” and little fingers taking veggies or roasties before I can finish serving.

So time was up and we were told to then prepare one plate of food for the judges to taste… time to slice my heart… and it was cooked exactly how I wanted, it was cooked through, slightly pink and tender. I was so relieved, I could have cried!

Phil was first for judging today, his roast dinner did look lovely… the judges loved it and no wonder, his roast potatoes were fabulous and everyone couldn’t stop eating his cauliflower and cheese.

On to my turn, I had been sure Mary Berry would have been a fan of ox heart but she told me she had never tried it, and the her heart has sank when she found out that I was making one! Mary said that my ox heart was “surprisingly tender and tasted great”, Dan also complimented my roast dinner but said it would have been improved by a roast potato! Chris also had lovely things to say, and he particularly like my sprouts… good comments from all three judges! Woohoo!

I was so happy, they were not the best comments ever, but I had shown how wonderful such a cheap piece of meat could be. I had been so nervous I would ruin the heart and no one would even want to try one, but in fact all three judges had enjoyed the meat, hopefully lots of people watching the show would like to at least try a heart, especially if anyone is struggling to feed a large family on a tight budget.

Cyrus made a Guinea fowl, the skin was so crisp and the meat was so full of flavour but he was in a bit of a tizzy towards the end, I think he ran out of time.

Trevor’s lamb hogget lamb was some of the best lamb I have ever eaten and it wasn’t even Welsh lamb!! It was lovely to see how passionate Trevor was because he had reared the animal it’s whole life… the judges didn’t think he should have put roasted peppers with the dinner, I thought it was strange, but Trevor stands by it, he loves the sweetness with the lamb!

Dipa’s roast dinner was nothing like the roast dinners I am used to but I was so glad she did the dinner that her kids love… I was so excited to try it and I wasn’t disappointed. The chicken was so fabulous, the flavour was so delicious and the chicken was still moist and succulent. Dipa has very kindly given me the recipe and I’ve made it for my family and they also enjoyed it… this is definitely one you need to try!

I was so busy making my own roast dinner, I really had no idea what Tobi was up to by the side of me! Well when it came to judging my eyes were bulging out my head trying to see around the judges and see what his chicken looked like… if you watch the episode you can see me behind Mary! The chicken may not have been roasted but it was glorious, so full of flavour and the texture was soft, almost melt in the mouth, I’ll have to try salt baking. I did feel for him because he is so ambitious but he ran out of time and his Yorkshire pudding sank.

Well Pippa knows how to cook a potato, her potatoes last week were so tasty and her Hassel back potatoes might have been even better. I am always amazed by her use of the pressure cooker, my mother used to use one but I never got my head round them. I told her she should bring out a cook book for using a pressure cooker, because it’s something of a lost art and I haven’t been able to find a good book covering their use! There was a bit of controversy over Pippa’s lamb being a roast or not, I thought it tasted really good… I’ll leave the rest to the judges!

It was time to choose the favourites again and I had my fingers and toes crossed for Dipa, she had been feeling a little deflated because she felt as though she hadn’t given the judges a good dish so far, I was sure that her chicken would get chosen.Dan and Mary both chose Philip and Chris chose Dipa, I was so pleased as it was a first for both of them. Afterwards I ran over and gave Dipa a massive hug and said “you’ll be on a stool this week, I’m sure of it!”

The choice this week was between cauliflower and crab… CRAB!! And Philip and Dipa chose crab… I mean they had one job… CRAB! What an odd choice, neither really appealed to me, I was totally lost with crab but I could only think of cauliflower soup or cauliflower and cheese for the cauliflower!

Back at the house, I was feeling pretty tired, cooking the ox heart had been draining because I had been so worried and now I had to think about crab. There was a lot of discussion around what form the crab would take, Trevor said it was very unlikely to be a whole crab as an hour was a very small amount of time to pick a crab and make a dish. We all convinced ourselves there would be a dish of white eat and a dish of brown meat.

During the episode I mentioned that I was chased by a crab once, I need to clarify that I don’t mind eating crab I quite like the flavour but the creature terrifies me, it reminds me of a very large spider. Back in 2004 I was on holiday in Jamaica, there was a category 5 hurricane and afterwards a lot of the resort was left in disrepair and there were no lights. So the night after we came out of the hurricane shelter all the remaining guests were in the main hall having food and Alan went back to the room for something. Alan had been gone for a long time so I went to find him, to set the scene the paths are in total darkness, there is water, leaves and debris everywhere, I’m a bit spooked anyway and then I hear a scuttling behind me. It’s like a horror movie when I stop to listen the scuttling seems to stop… then I start to panic and start to run and the scuttling gets a lot faster and louder and now I know there is definitely a crab chasing me. By the time I get to the room I’m in a frenzy, Alan thinks it hysterical and I never actually got to see the crab, but it must have been the size of a small dog!!I barely slept the night before the roast challenge and I’d say I slept even less the night before the crab… so I was feel pretty worn out, however I was determined to do my best, I was up early as always, hair done, lippy on and we were out the door.

We walk into the kitchen and I’m gripping onto Trevor for dear life, and it a whole BLOODY CRAB! What are they doing to me? Right deep breath you can do this… hopefully!!Before seeing the whole crab I had planned on making a crab soufflé, I make a smoked salmon soufflé which my husband loves so I thought I could recreate that... but seeing the whole crab I knew that I wouldn’t have the time, as usual I had very limited options. I love making sweet Portuguese tarts and we had puff pastry so I thought a savoury version may work well with the crab.

"How do you open it?"

I didn’t know what to do with the inside of the crab so I left that alone, in fact I hid under the counter, I absolutely smashed my crab claws and made a right mess but worse than that I dented my favourite rolling pin! Bob was haunting me from under the counter…The time seemed to go by in a flash, my tarts turned out well and I was proud of myself! I also made a side salad using one of my favourite dressings, Greek yoghurt, cucumber, grated apple and lemon juice.

Beating my crab like a lunatic!!

I was finished well before the end of time and I was glad for that to be end of the challenge, like I said I was proud of myself for pushing through and making something, but I had found dealing with the crab somewhat traumatic!

Trevor got judged first, his bisque was full of flavour and like Chris said maybe a little too full of flavour! It was super tasty though! Trevor really beat himself up after the challenge, because he had missed that piece of crab shell!

Then it was my turn, Chris took a large bite of my tart and he pulled such a face I thought he hated it… but he said “it’s perfect” well I laughed out loud, I had been convinced he didn’t like it. Mary said I’d “cracked it” and my “filling was beautiful”, I couldn’t ask for better comments, hopefully I had done enough, I couldn’t face cooking again!

Cyrus was feeling particularly nervous going into the crab round because he felt he was in trouble because of his roast. Dan thought that the tacos were a really good idea and they looked fantastic.

Pippa made crab tortellini in a crab bisque, using her sturdy pressure cooker, it looked restaurant quality, stunning… the taste was next level, so full of flavour it’s hard to believe she did all that in one hour!

Tobi made a crab pasty, innovative as ever, but the judges didn’t seem to like it very much, I thought it was pretty tasty, I liked the sweetcorn in the filling.

Dipa made crab cakes, they were crisp on the outside and soft and full of flavour on the inside but for me the star of the show was the green coriander chutney that she made on the side, it enhanced all the flavours of the crab cakes, divine!

Philip out did himself with his crab pithivier (don’t try and pronounce it), it looked absolutely perfect and tasted even better, the judges were bowled over and I wasn’t in the least bit surprised, I was glad to eat a large piece of it after judging.

When we went for tea and the judges went off to decide who would be cooking again, I think we were all feeling exhausted, it had been a roller-coaster of a week! Trevor was worried he would be cooking again and so was Dipa, but I reassured her, I was convinced she would be sitting on her first stool this week, she is such a good home cook and her flavours are sensational. When we’re called back into the kitchen, there are 5 stools, only two people cooking again! Dan calls my name and I’m so relieved to be through to the next week and Dipa does get her stool, I’m so pleased for her.

Cyrus and Tobi have to cook again and they are cooking an Apple Charlotte, I’ve never heard of one, this might be a tricky challenge, but Tobi so far has been amazing with desserts, I don’t want to see anyone go home but I can’t lose Tobi, my bench buddy!During the challenge we were quite close to Cyrus so we could see everything he was doing, but Tobi was too far away, so watching the episode of TV for the first time was so tense, I didn’t realise that his charlotte fell apart. It is never fun sitting on the stool no matter how nice it is to be safe, but this was particularly tough, with such a dramatic finish!

I tasted both apple charlottes and I have to say I think it’s my new favourite dessert, I dare say it is actually nicer than an apple tart or crumble!! Check out my version in my youtube video below!

Mary announced that Cyrus was going to be going home, it was sad to see him go, who was going to open the prosecco now?

Britain's Best Home Cook continues 8pm BBC One...

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