How to Roast
Roasting uses dry heat to cook meat over an extended period of time. It’s a simple, easy way to cook a large cut of meat for a large crowd. Many types of meat can be roasted, such as beef, pork or poultry. The most popular methods include roasting in pan in the oven or in a slow cooker on your countertop. Either way allows you to add yummy root vegetables to the mix. Although a roast may take longer to cook than a stovetop meal, once prepared it makes for an ideal family Sunday dinner.
Roasting vs. Baking
The only real difference between roasting and baking is the type of food being cooked. Dinner recipes call for roasting, while breads, pastries and desserts are baked. In both instances the food still goes into the oven but they are both cooked with a dry heat method rather than in a liquid. Roasting can also be done on the barbecue in a pan or on the rotisserie.
Roasting Tools & Racks
All you need is a good roasting pan, a rack, your oven and a meat thermometer. The rack keeps the meat away from any liquid that collects in the bottom of the pan. To serve the roast you will also need a cooking fork and a large knife or electric knife to carve the meat. There are three common roasting racks: flat, u-shaped and v-shaped. Flat racks allow the meat to sit more evenly spread out while v-shaped racks help the meat retain its shape better. A u-shaped rack nestles the meat snugly over the pan. For a more specialized meal such as beer-can chicken, a vertical roaster would be used. If you don’t have one try roasting the meat on top of the vegetables, which will also add flavour to the meal as they roast together.
- Season the meat with kosher salt and pepper, ideally the night before so the flavours have time to penetrate the meat. You can also add spice rubs, herbs or garlic.
- Preheat the oven to the required temperature and place the roast on the rack with the fat side up in the roasting pan. Remember that using a rack keeps the meat elevated and allows even airflow. Don’t cover the pan.
- If using a temperature probe, insert it into the centre of the roast without hitting the bone. Put the meat in the oven and cook for 20 to 30 minutes at a higher temperature until brown.
- Once browned, set the temperature and timer in accordance with the size and type of roast.
- When finished, remove from the oven, cover in foil and let the meat rest for about 20 minutes before carving. If not done then return to the over for another 10 to 15 minutes. While it’s resting, use the time to make the sauce with the drippings.
Beef & Pork
Most cuts of meat will turn into a delicious roast, such as rib eye, rump roast, sirloin or even chuck roast. Pot roast is ideal for the slow cooker. Just let your palette decide which cut you use from meal to meal. Prime rib is the classic cut, usually with the bone in. A perfect prime rib is juicy and medium rare on the inside with a brown crust on the outside. Cuts for roast beef can be sized to suit, ranging from 1lb right up to 10lbs or more.
Roast pork is traditionally served with roasted apples or ginger. Perfect roast pork is moist inside with a crisp crackling on the outside (the fat is scored, rubbed with oil and salt before cooking). The crackling can be either left on the meat of removed at the end of cooking and served separately. The best cuts to use are the shoulder, loin, side and leg. Each provides a different tenderness and taste.
Lamb & Poultry
A good cut of lamb is lean, tender and delicately flavoured. Lamb chops, leg of lamb, shoulder, or top round are popular cuts to buy for roasting. A "spring lamb" (from sheep less than three months old) is a great seasonal delicacy. Try a roasted leg of lamb with rosemary, Greek roast lamb with chopped tomatoes and kalmata olives, or classic rack of lamb with herbs, garlic and olive oil.
Roasted chicken results in delicious crisp skin that turns golden brown. Roast chicken is commonly prepared using a whole chicken with lemon juice, salt and pepper and onion. Turn it into a Mediterranean meal with the addition of coriander, cinnamon, seven spices mix and paprika. Turkey is generally prepared using a simple rub of butter, herbs and garlic or flavours of sage, oregano and garlic.
Roasted vegetables, crisp and salted from the oven are a definite treat. Roasting evaporates some of the water in the vegetables, which intensifies the flavour and caramelizes the outside, which adds a hint of sweetness. Turnip and other similar vegetables become sweeter after being roasted in the oven. Vegetables that roast best include potatoes, carrots, onions, beets, parsnips, sweet potatoes and squash. In order to cook properly, they should all be the same size, coated evenly and seasoned well.
Larding & Barding
Larding is the most traditional method but less common for home cooks because it’s more labour intensive. Here, you pull an extra layer of fat through the meat so that when it cooks, the fat dissolves into the meat and adds flavour. Barding is simpler and involves layering fat on top of the meat — similar to enjoying a cut of meat that has been wrapped in bacon.
Brining & Marinating
Brining is done by immersing the meat in a saltwater mixture before it’s cooked. This adds flavour, tenderness, and reduces the cooking time. Turkey is commonly brined, but other meats can be prepared this way too. Marinades can vary, but generally consist of oil, vinegar, lemon juice or wine with spices and herbs. Before cooking, your meat must sit in a marinade for several hours so the acidic mixture is soaked into the meat for tenderization.
Basting is most common for turkey or chicken, where the drippings or butter are spooned over top of the meat while it’s cooking. Opening the oven door to baste lowers the temperature of the oven so it should be done quickly.
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