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Village aims for record with a Jubilee ox roast

By Ongar Gazette  |  Posted: May 25, 2012

BIG BEEF: The last time an ox was roasted in the village in 1977

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IT'S NOT quite fast food, but good things come to those who wait.

And after an entire day and night of slow cooking, the results should be very good indeed.

When villagers in Moreton decided to mark the Queen's Diamond Jubilee, they knew they could not do it by halves.

So, taking their cue from the village's celebrations of the Silver Jubilee back in 1977, they decided to mark the occasion with a communal meal for the whole community, cooking an entire cow in one massive barbecue.

The cow, a 350kg beast, born and reared in the village, is currently hanging to develop the flavour.

Come the Jubilee weekend at the beginning of June, an enormous fire pit will be dug, with a special scaffolding erected to hoist the animal on.

It will then be cooked over the flames, fuelled by more than two tonnes of wood, for at least 24 hours, with a team of 16 chefs volunteering to man the spit roast throughout the night.

Organiser Tony Boyce, who lives in the village, said that Moreton had a reputation for celebrating these events in style.

He said: "Thirty-five years ago, one member of the community went out and painted every kerb in the village red, white and blue."

Mr Boyce, a district councillor, continued: "I've been calling this ox roast a medieval thing, because it feels like something they may have done centuries ago. We'll be using a digger to make a fire pit, which is 10ft long, five feet wide and three feet deep, and need more that two tonnes of wood to keep it going.

"We'll have to prepare the fire on Saturday to get it started, if we want to have it cooked through by Monday evening.

"And we have a team of people who'll be looking after it."

He added: "It's not quite like you'd imagine, with people constantly turning it – if we did that, it would keep falling on its heaviest side.

"Instead, you turn it in increments every 30 minutes to make the cooking even."

Mr Boyce and his fellow organisers think the scale of the operation is big enough to interest the Guinness Book of Records.

He said: "We've been looking at the categories and I don't think an ox roast has been done like this before, so we could set a record.

"It would be a great way for our village to mark the Jubilee, and we hope a lot of people come along and enjoy it.

"There should certainly be enough food."

The evening begins at 6pm on June 4, behind the White Hart pub in Moreton.

Tickets cost £5 each, and are available from the White Hart and the Nag's Head pubs.

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