James May: Oh Cook! (2020–2023): Season 1, Episode 7 - Roast - full transcript

The Sunday Roast is a challenge of technique and timings, often involving tips and tricks passed down generations. James sets out early to slay a sacred cow: he's going to make Yorkshire puddings with roast chicken, the batter for...

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---
Hello, viewers.
I'm James May, and I can't cook.

Welcome to my cookery show.

♪ ♪

Welcome to the finale.

And as a reward
for bearing with me

for the previous six episodes,

we'll be doing
something different.

One dish,

a dish that's truly greater

than the sum of its parts.

What follows
is a step-by-step guide



to the culinary wonder

that is
the great British roast.

Along the way,
there'll be revelations...

Do you think I want people
to think I'm a weirdo?

I just am.

...acoustics...

And the greatest noise

- in the world is that.
- [clangs]

...excitement...

That makes me twitch.

- ...and heat.
- [Nikki] Is it hot?

- That's [bleep] hot. Oh.
- [laughs]

But first...

♪ ♪



Hello, everyone.

It's Sunday morning.
Nikki and I are charged

with cooking
today's Sunday roast.

It's going to be roast chicken
with Yorkshire pudding...

more on that later...
and roast potatoes

and lovely steamed vegetables

and cauliflower cheese,
which is an accompaniment,

and it is also
our vegetarian alternative.

The process begins
with a sherry,

so I'll just get Nikki out.
Nikki?

- Would you like a sherry?
- Sherry?

- Yes.
- Lovely.

Cheers. Happy Sunday.

Happy Sunday.

- Oh.
- Mmm.

Actually, you can retire

- and enjoy that
in your cupboard if you like.
- I will.

- Thank you.
- And I will call you out
when I get this wrong.

The difficult thing

about cooking a roast
is the timing.

Everything with cooking

takes quite a long time,
but all of them take

different amounts of time,
and they all need

to be ready at the same time.

And therein lies the rub.

The perfect roast requires

the sort of precision timing
normally found

on a Swiss wrist.

We start, surprisingly,

with the pudding.

Now, if you're from Yorkshire...

I lived in Yorkshire myself
for quite a long time...

you'll be sitting there going,
"You don't have

Yorkshire puddings
with roast chicken.

They go with roast beef because
they're made with beef fat."

Yes, technically,
you are correct.

But I'm afraid
in the modern world,

Yorkshire puddings
no longer belong to Yorkshire.

They belong
to the global food village.

♪ ♪

So, I'm gonna start with
the Yorkshire pudding mixture,

and it begins with eggs.

You need an equal volume

of eggs, flour and milk.

I'm using four eggs.

The volume of egg, which is...

...seven fluid ounces.

Beat the egg

and mix
with seven ounces of flour

and seven fluid ounces of milk.

Stir it in
a little bit at a time.

[Yorkshire accent]
There is your reet gradely

Yorkshire pudding mix in t'bowl.

[regular voice]
Yorkshire puddings are made

with a fake Yorkshire accent.

The rest of this lunch will be
made with normal English.

If you're in any doubt
about your mixture,

check
with your handy home economist.

It's absolutely fine.

And it will thicken
when it stands

because the grains swell.

It'll thicken when it stands
because the grains swell.

I don't know what that means,
but it sounds culinary

and convincing.

The pudding mixture is set aside

until it's needed later.

Next, we are going to prepare
our chicken for roasting.

And we take some
of this lemon thyme,

which has been
artfully presented

next to the chicken.
We don't need the whole lot.

♪ ♪

Mash the thyme
with some soft butter,

making a baste to cook
under the skin of the chicken.

Time for a little intimacy.

Lift up this bit of skin

near its... ass.

You shove your finger in.

You got...
you got to try and do this

without actually busting
the skin.

I normally end up making
a little cut with a knife,

but Nikki's
told me not to do that.

She says that's cheating.

There you go.
I've got my finger in.

I've wiped my nose, but I've got

my finger in the chicken.
Hang on.

I'm determined to adhere

to strict kitchen hygiene,

but I'm not taking my finger
out of this chicken

for love nor money.

Easy.

Okay.

♪ ♪

Let's get a nice dollop of that.

Let's see if I can shove it

up there.

That's working quite well.

There's a nice pat
of seasoned and herbed butter

under the skin of the chick,

and it will baste
the whole thing whilst it cooks.

And lemon.

Cut it in half.

Squeeze one half over the top.

Shove the other one
up its chuff.

Place it on some
strategically positioned onions

to stop its bottom from burning.

Oven is up to temperature.

There is the chicken.

There it is going in.

There is the Californian
Old Vines zinfandel.

We are cooking.

The chicken roasts

for one hour and 20 minutes
at 190 degrees.

But if you think you can now
put your feet up and drink wine,

you'd be wrong.

With time
very much of the essence,

we move on swiftly
to everyone's favorite part

of the roast dinner.

Roast potatoes.

They are made with potatoes.

The process starts
by peeling potatoes

and then parboiling them.

Vegetables peel better
when they're slightly wet.

I don't know why, but they do

if you just dampen that
slightly.

Then I take this potato peeler,

which I've had
since I was in my 20s.

I've even managed to sharpen it.
And it's excellent,

because it takes off
the thinnest layer.

Sharpening it is a bit of a nag,

because you don't simply have
to improve the edge

in the... what we could call
the throat of the thing.

You also have
to subtly reshape it.

But I'm talking about minutely.

You know,
tiny fractions of a millimeter.

I do it with a tiny punch
and a hammer,

and I have a very enjoyable day

restoring my potato peeler.

Nobody can touch me.

Yes, that is for real.

Why would I
make a thing like that up?

Do you think I want people
to think I'm a weirdo?

I just am.

I've learned to live with it.

I'm 57 years old.
I no longer give a shit.

I'm saying all this

quite confidently knowing
it can't possibly make the cut

because it's far too long.

♪ ♪

Chop the spuds
into roast-sized chunks,

and while they parboil
for 15 minutes...

Lid on. Gas on.

...prepare your roasting tin.

Put a bit of goose fat
at the bottom of the tray

and a bit of salt,
I would put in.

- Would you agree?
- [Nikki] Yes.

[James] This is going
in the same oven

as the chicken but underneath.

Bloody hot in there.

No, sorry, that's
the Yorkshire pudding voice.

- Now we can strain those.
- Yeah. [chuckles]

Whilst the roasting tin

gets superhot,
drain and fluff your potatoes.

Look at those fluffing up.

Fluffed?

And get ready to roast them
for 45 minutes.

You want the-the fat

to be on every surface
of the potato,

'cause that's what
will make them crisp up.

And at this point,
you completely forget

that it's red-hot and you do
that to put it back in the oven.

I'm not gonna make
that schoolboy error.

♪ ♪

Good, that's all going.

- Cheers.
- Cheers.

While the potatoes
and meat roast...

...it's time to tackle
the two veg.

We are steaming
today's vegetables. They are

brussels sprouts,
and they are carrots.

There's not a great deal to say
about this apart from that

steaming preserves more
of the nutrients in the food

than any other method apart from
actually eating them raw.

But never mind all that.
The most important thing

about sprouts is
the sprout is a dense vegetable.

The steamer in which
we're going to cook them is made

from very thin-gauge
stainless steel,

about .8 of a millimeter.

And the greatest noise
in the world is that.

[clangs]

That's why I always do
my sprouts one at a time,

so I can enjoy

that noise.

Isn't it lovely?

With the ticking clock
our constant tormentor,

the director
won't allow me to enjoy

the sprout symphony.

You lose the pleasure
of the "pong, pong" noise.

Carrots.

But there's no avoiding
the great carrot debate.

The carrot
has different qualities

at each end. This end
of the carrot is quite earthy.

This, the pointy end
of the carrot,

tends to be sweeter.

You should cut a carrot
into batons,

because then you get

a bit of pointy end
and a bit of middle

or a bit of middle
and a bit of nub end.

You could argue that carrots
should be cut into circles,

because if you cut a carrot
into a circle,

at any point in the carrot
you get a cross section

of the entire carrot structure.

Or...

you can do what the army does,
and just go like that.

I don't think it makes
a great deal of difference,

to be honest. They are carrots;
they will cook anyway.

Steam the vegetables
for around 10 minutes

near the end
of cooking the roast.

The chicken has just
under 45 minutes to go,

and the potatoes are in
at the right time.

They will be done coterminous...

I think is the word...
with the chicken.

Thank you for watching.

Cut. Cut away. Move on.

Those with more
culinary experience

will be screaming
that I'm cooking this roast

all out of sequence.

For the purposes of television,

I'm showing each element
in a fuller version

rather than scattered
throughout the process,

which would normally
be the case.

However, because this is telly,
everything should be ready,

on time, at the same time.

Hopefully.

♪ ♪

In a short while,

I'll be battling
time and tide...

Calm down, everybody.

...as I grapple with the gravy.

This always takes a bit longer
than you think, and this is

- when I panic.
- But first...

it's time for a vegetable
and dairy overdose.

Cauliflower cheese,

a great accompaniment
to the carvery of my youth

and also
our vegetarian alternative.

I'm going to get Nikki
in for this,

because it's all becoming
terribly exciting.

- Hi.
- You want to come
and join in cauliflower cheese?

Yes, I'd like to do that.
What... where are we at?

♪ ♪

To help me on my way,

the crew have bought me a
cauliflower-separating device.

Being TV people,
they unwrapped it

and threw the packaging away, so
I have no idea how you use it.

- So if I do...
- I think maybe

the other way around, so that
it curves 'round the core.

[James] Oh, yeah,
could be right.

- Ah.
- Ah.

Hey, we might be onto something.

It's quite good, actually.

That is quite good.

You want nice big, chunky,
crisp pieces of cauliflower.

We don't want soggy
cauliflower cheese, do we?

[Nikki] No. It needs to be
big pieces, not overcooked.

This is going
into boiling water,

because cauliflower, as far as
I know, grows above the ground.

A watched pot never parboils,

so I make a suggestion.

If you could go to the garden
and get a cutaway

of a Victorian death mask

leaning
against a small palm tree

with a "see all evil" monkey
looking on,

that would be fantastic.

♪ ♪

The cauliflower
is now perfectly done.

In fact, we've
only just got that in time.

This is why cooking a roast
can turn into a bit of a panic.

We're going
to leave this to cool

whilst we make
the cheese sauce.

Should I go and get the things
to make the cheese sauce?

Let's get the things to make...
If you could get the things

to make the cheese sauce,
I'll go for a wee.

- How's that for a deal?
- That sounds like...

- Excellent.
- ...a plan.

♪ ♪

The cauliflower's there.
Here is the cheese.

The most important thing to do
is test the cheese.

Here's a small piece
of cheese for you.

That is good cheese.

And it's vegetarian, remember,

- because the cauliflower cheese
- Really good.

is an accompaniment and it's
our vegetarian alternative.

It starts with a roux,
which means...

melting some butter and then
stirring in some flour.

I've got a special treat
for you.

- What's my special treat?
- I don't say this

- to very many people, but...
- Oh.

would you like to be responsible
for grating the cheese?

- Yes.
- And would you like to use

my rotary cheese grater?

I'd love to use your
rotary cheese grater. Thank you.

I've never used
a rotary cheese grater before.

This particular one is made
by Mouli in France.

[Nikki] Mm.

- Do you know how to do it?
- Oops.

- Mm.
- That's a yes.

[Nikki] Oh, dear.

♪ ♪

While Nikki gets to grips
with my antique grater

and 150 grams of cheese...

- I've made a cheese mountain.
- That looks great.

...I add half a liter of milk...

Please, feel free.

...and let the expert whisk.

- It's smooth.
- Once the sauce

starts to thicken,
it's time to think about cheese.

If there's one thing
I can't stand,

it's a wishy-washy, namby-pamby,

- left-wing cheese sauce.
- [giggles]

I want it thick and British.

Peasant island lumpen,
not lumpy.

That's, um...

Are these little black bits
part of the Mouli?

No. Those little black bits
are... part of the vanilla pod

from the custard we made earlier
and it was on a different show.

Ignoring this slight hiccup,
we plow on.

I think the best thing
to do with this

is make it form into a bit
of a dome in the middle.

- [Nikki] So the cheese
runs down the sides.
- Yeah, exactly. So it could be

like a cheese volcano, almost.

Let us anoint it with cheese.

[chuckling]

Ooh.

Cheesy.

That's great.

[James] Into the oven for 15

- to 20 minutes.
- Till it's nice
and golden brown.

♪ ♪

- Mm-hmm-hmm.
- Mm-hmm.

It's looking good.

Oh, yes.

Mmm.

That looks like a...
a posh pub cauliflower cheese.

I think you should try that,
Nikki.

I'll have a little bit
from there.

Cauliflowery and cheesy.

It's delicious.

- [James] Is it hot?
- It's cauliflower...

[laughs] It's not quite as hot
as... as some things.

[Nikki laughs]

Delicious.

- Oh, man.
- Cauliflower's held.

- Mmm.
- It's not too soft.

- Is it hot?
- That's [bleep] hot.

[laughs]

Why do you do this to me?

Wha... Oh.

That is... that's great.

- Really good.
- It's just the perfect amount

of cheesiness,
because it's sort of...

At first you think,
"Well, that's not too cheesy,"

then you get
sort of a cheesy aftertaste.

The wine people would say
it was back here.

You get the cheese there,

like you do
with a really good burgundy.

Our vintage cauliflower cheese
is ready.

But it's not time to eat yet.

So we go back to the future
and rejoin our roast.

♪ ♪

And we arrive
at a critical moment.

I'm just gonna quickly check
on the chicken.

How nice is that!

With the chicken
and the potatoes roasting,

the vegetables ready to steam
at a moment's notice,

and the cauliflower cheese that
you've already seen me make...

- That's [bleep] hot.
- [laughing]

...all needing to be served up
at the same moment,

the roast dinner has entered
the final furlong.

So it's back to the pudding
where it all began.

Yorkshire pudding.
We got to move

very, very quickly.
Once they're in,

they take about 20 minutes,
then we can sort out

the vegetables, the gravy,
the chicken resting,

the carving and so on,
and the most important thing

when you're making
Yorkshire puddings is Nikki.

- [knocking]
- Nikki?

- Hi, James.
- Hi. I'm going to do
this Yorkshire pudding bit,

which I've never done, so...

The key to Yorkshire pudding

is to have the baking tray
extremely hot.

[Nikki] That looks like
it is smoking.

So leave that closed.

Until the last yawning incident,
as Chuck Yeager would have said.

Liven the mixture up a little
and get ready.

Bring out the boiling hot
Yorkshire pudding tray,

and then you pour equal amounts
in each of the little holes.

And moving quickly,
because we don't want it

- to cool down.
- Move really quickly.

Is everybody ready?
Does anybody have

a comment to make
before I do this,

'cause if you interrupt me,

you will get batter
in your face.

- [laughing]
- Anybody.

- Action!
- ♪ ♪

Yowzers! Very hot.

- Cloths down.
- I'm just gonna close that
to keep the heat in.

I'm sorry, yes, I should have
closed that to keep it hot.

Equal amounts
in each compartment.

[Nikki] Perfect.

♪ ♪

Okay, I'm ready.

Well, geez,
what a responsibility.

And they are...

Ooh, slight splash.

That doesn't matter.
The door is closed.

♪ ♪

With 20 minutes to go,

the chicken should be ready.

Ooh, that looks tremendous,
doesn't it? Look at that.

- Ooh, that looks delicious.
- Crispy.

Moist.

And that wing is mine!

Let's get a plate.
Do you want a carving fork?

I have a carving fork
in my bling carving set.

- ♪ Dah, dah-dah, dah! ♪
- [laughing] Wow!

This was a present
from Snoop Dogg a few years ago

when I made an album with him.

It actually makes the noise
"bling" when you hold it up

to the camera.
Look, it goes, "Bling!"

I'll just give this a little...

[high-pitched,
metallic scraping]

Oh. It makes me twitch.

Um, we're not going to cut it.
We're just going to lift it

- and drain it.
- Oh.

There's the lovely chicken
juices running out of its chuff

into the tray.

[Nikki] Let's pop it
on the plate.

[James] Looks like Christmas.

The chicken goes
into Nikki's warmer compartment

to rest.

With time marching on,

we put our two veg on to steam.

Yorkshire puddings
have been in

for seven minutes
and 23 seconds.

And they could possibly rise
a little bit more,

and they could go a
little bit browner.

- Would you agree?
- Let's leave them

- for five minutes, then.
- Five more minutes.

Time for some calculations.

So the vegetables
will be ready at ten past,

we're at five past, which would
be seven on there, 'cause we had

two minutes left on there.
So it's seven minutes past

on my clock,
those will be finished,

and ten minutes past on that
clock, those will be finished,

giving us eight minutes
to make this gravy.

Did that make sense?

Add some water saved
from parboiling the spuds

to the chicken juices.

Give it a splash of wine.

Good. Come on,
bubble, bubble, bubble.

This always takes a bit longer
than you think.

This is when I panic,
'cause I think

"Everything else is done,
and my gravy still just looks

- like the surface
of a village pond."
- We could put it

- over the big ring.
- Let's put it
over the big ring.

That's-that's the spirit.

That's better. That's
a much more encouraging noise.

Well, this has got to thicken
in the next four minutes

if we're going to get
our timings exactly right.

Thicken your gravy with
some flour dissolved in water.

This will all come out
perfectly, all at the same time,

all at temperature,
all ready to eat,

and then we'll ruin it because

the film crew will want
to put it on the lazy Susan

- and take photographs of it.
- [Nikki] That's true.

[James] That's gravy-like,
isn't it?

That is very gravy-like.

We've just gone
15 seconds over time.

The golden hour
of readiness is upon us,

and the kitchen is
a little tense.

Now I'm completely lost. Which
one are we getting out first?

- Let's put the gra...
- Yorkshire pudding is first.

- [man] No, the gravy.
- No. Gravy first. Okay.
- Oh, sorry.

- Sorry. Sorry. Sorry.
- Uh, calm down, everybody.

Yeah, it's a bit hot.

That's the gravy jug, yes?
♪ Oh! ♪

Should we take out the...

- Yorkshire puddings
and go "Ooh!" at them?
- Yes.

Those are fantastic!

What do we think? I'm struggling
not to just eat those.

- Crispy. Happy with those?
- Yeah, very happy.

That is a tray of roasties.

Those are tip-top
roast potatoes. Look at them.

That bit's too small to serve.
It must be for you.

- As, indeed, is that bit there.
- Oh, really hot.

- [laughing]
- [muffled mumbling]

[Nikki] Oh,
they are top potatoes.

Right, let's assemble
all of that in cookbook style,

arranged around the chicken

with some vegetables
and some cauliflower cheese,

and then we can just eat it.
What do you say?

- Fine.
- Here it comes.

By some kitchen miracle,
otherwise known as "Nikki,"

the roast dinner, with all
its constituent parts, is ready

on time, at the same time.

Even, through the magic
of television,

the cauliflower cheese
I made earlier.

And now it's time to...

I hate it when people say this.

..."carve the bird."

Nobody ever really taught me
how to do this,

and there are lots of theories
on it, but I would start

by cutting down
through the leg there,

ease it apart with your fingers,

look for the joint,
which is there,

take that entire leg off.

If you look for the joint
in there, you can separate that

into a thigh and a drumstick.

Done like an expert.

There's a drumstick,
there is a thigh.

Follow the shape
of the body a bit.

Keep working your way along.
I'm not claiming to be an expert

at it, but I can generally
get the chicken off

without any bones in it.

Let's plate that up
and let's eat it.

♪ Alleluia! Alleluia! ♪

[James] The Sunday roast.

It's more than a feast, it's
a ritual in how it's cooked

and how it's presented.

♪ Alleluia! ♪

And especially
in how it's eaten.

Go! I'm going
to start with a sprout,

because I always start
with a sprout.

I'm gonna start
with a potato.

Mmm.

[James] Right,
this is the big test.

The chicken, which I have to say
is perfectly cooked

because it's not overdone.

I'm gonna have a bit
of cauliflower cheese

with my chicken.

Mmm-hmm-hmm.

Mmm-mm.

It's all good. The Yorkshire
puddings are fluffed up.

The chicken is flavorsome,
the potatoes are crispy.

The sprouts are firm,
the carrots are firm.

The cauliflower cheese
is cheesy.

Success.

Absolutely.
And I know it's more trouble

than just going down
to the pub

and ordering the Sunday
roast special,

but what an adventure, eh?

If you do it with a friend,

like I've done it with Nikki,

you have a laugh,
you drink some wine,

you watch the magic
of the insipid chicken browning

and the Yorkshire puddings
exploding,

and the cheesy sauce
coming together

and browning on the top.

And you have, you know,
burn your fingers

and fall out and everything;
it's just fantastic.

You can't replicate that
just going out for food.

You have to cook it yourself.

Everybody remembers
their favorite roast.

You don't remember
your favorite sandwich, do you?

Cheers.

Pile in, everybody.

♪ ♪

And, as the crew dig in to my

perfectly timed
and cooked roast,

I'm left to reflect
on my cookbook adventure.

♪ ♪

And what's required
to bring each recipe

successfully to the table.

Just make sure
I'm doing this right.

I've discovered that
there aren't really any rules

when it comes to cooking...

"Don't use shit cheese."
Oh, what a good idea.

...other than just
have fun with it

and make it taste nice.

Now...

I love the use of
the word "now" in TV,

because what it really means is

"I'm just thinking about
what I'm going to say next."

Of course,
making a cookery show

is a different thing
altogether.

Is there a way of doing
a sitting down cooking show?

I mean, Robert Fripp
used to play the guitar

sitting down, didn't he?

Not only does it
have to be informative...

[blows raspberry]
'Cause that's too much,

and it will come out
of the side of the pie.

It will suppurate like a boil.

Archaeologists have found that

parts of the Great Wall
of China...

and I know this sounds like
a stupid joke, but it isn't...

are made from rice.

One has to understand
the collaborative nature

of starring in your own
cookery show...

[man] Gary, is there time
to get a shot of the spoon?

I'm trying to do
a wine tasting,

and you keep doing
close-ups of spoons.

- What's that?
- [man] You haven't brushed it
with egg.

Yeah, I know.
I'm about to say that.

There's an egg glaze to go.
I'm going to introduce it.

I've put it over there
so I can introduce it.

[man] And making the holes
in the pie.

Making the holes in the pie.

Which I had forgotten
to be honest, but, uh...

[laughter]

Be prepared to understand
all the new tools

that are at the chef's
disposal.

The plunger pushes forward,

presses the egg
into that sharp spike,

and then the spike separates
the two halves of the egg,

and the egg drops
into the container.

Let's see if it works.

Egg... Wait for it.

[laughter]

All right.

Nikki, can I have
another egg, please?

It's quite the most pointless
thing I've ever...

[laughter]

There is, of course,
a much more useful tool

than any of these things.

Everybody drinks
whilst they're cooking;

it's perfectly normal.

I mean, it's-it's sort of
a chef's privilege,

isn't it?

Why would you not?

If you are the sort
of person who drinks,

as indeed I am...

I'm not saying
I'm an alcoholic

or I'm dependent
or anything like that,

just because it's only 10:00.

It has been an experience
that has thrown up

moments of reflection.

So, if you walk quickly
across custard,

you can walk on custard.

But if you hesitate,
you will sink.

So you have to be penitent
and faithful

in a biblical sort of way.

This is not a problem
that exists in real life

it must be said,
but if you don't...

If halfway across the custard
you think,

"Can custard really
support a person..."

and you pause,
then you are lost.

That's total crap.
You can cut that out.

It's always worth remembering
that cooking is

one of the first things we,
as a species, learned to do.

Bollocks.

It's instinctive,
and my advice

is to always follow
those instincts.

Try it. Improvise.

You might surprise yourself.
I did.

Thank you for now.
See you next time. Goodbye.