The chill of winter heralds the start of roast season.

Short days, chilly nights, long walks in the forest followed by the cheery blaze of a log fire and the gathering around the table for a slow cooked roast with all the trimmings. That is one of the great joys of country winters we celebrate in the Daylesford and Macedon Ranges region.

Local author and chef Annie Smithers from du Fermier in Trentham says, “When I was growing up, topside beef was the roast of choice, something I cook to this day.” She heats the oven to 220°C, rubs the meat with, oil, salt, rosemary and garlic and cooks it for half an hour until it browns. She turns the oven down to 160°C, then cooks it for another 45 minutes or until it is 55°C inside. “Along the way I’ll throw in some cut up spuds and cook them in the hot fat,” she says. Annie gets her beef from Brooklands Farms, regenerative farmers from Blampied. They sell their award-winning free-range, rare-breed beef and pork at the Sunday Farmers’ Market in Daylesford and through their community supported agriculture (CSA) scheme.

Over at Ballan, Clive Kirby is chef at the lovingly restored mid 20th century Great Western Hotel. He cooks a roast every Sunday. “There’s always a cauliflower cheese, heirloom carrots and loads of real pan gravy,” he says. He buys his meat a few doors down from Ballan Local Butcher, who source their beef and lamb from their own nearby farms. At their sister pub, the Farmers Arms Hotel in Daylesford, you can enjoy golden roast pork belly by the blazing log fire in the public bar.

Other pubs cooking up noteworthy roasts include the Guildford Family Hotel. Sit by one of the three fireplaces and enjoy their Sunday roast lunch offering of lamb and mint sauce, pork and apple sauce or roast beef and horseradish. “We are trying to capture the feeling of the traditional Sunday roast, “ says co-owner Tom Allen.

Local roast expert is farmer and butcher Matt Layfield from Daylesford Meat Company. “We grew up with a slow cooked lamb shoulder at grandma’s house every weekend,” he says. Matt continues that tradition at home with his own recipe. “I take a shoulder of lamb, rub it in olive oil and season it with salt and pepper,” he says. “I pot roast it in a very hot oven, say 240°C, for 30 minutes until it gets good colour and reduce the heat to 150°C. I add a cup of white wine and chicken stock, some garlic gloves, cover it and and slow cook for four hours.” Matt says it is essential to rest your roast for at least 15 minutes and to use the pan juices to make a gravy. “There is no roast without the gravy,” he says with a laugh.

Richard’s Middle Eastern Lamb Shoulder with Couscous Salad recipe can be found here.

Buy your own roasting meat from these local butchers:
The Daylesford Meat Co.
Albert Street Butchers, Daylesford
Black Forest Meats, Woodend
Hardwicks of Kyneton

Daylesford Meat Co Pork Shoulder Story 1 e1653528294842 uai
Roast Pork with Salt & Vinegar Potatoes and Apple Cream from Daylesford Meat Co. Photo by Richard Cornish

Hero Image: Middle Eastern Lamb Shoulder with Couscous Salad from Daylesford Meat Co. Photo by Richard Cornish.

About the author

Cornish Richard
Richard Cornish
More Articles

Richard Cornish is an award winning food writer whose love of the land lead him to explore the issues around food, where it comes from, how it gets to us and why some foods taste better than others. He writes for The Age, SMH, DMT Life and has written eight cook books including co-writing the Movida series with Frank Camorra.