Roasting is a very easy cooking method which adds a lot of flavor to foods, with minimal effort. Whether it’s vegetables, meat, fish or nuts, this is definitely a skill that every home chef must develop. Read on for a few important must-knows.
WHAT IS ROASTING?
Roasting is a dry heat method of cooking that uses hot air from an oven, open flame, or other heat source, typically at 300°F or higher. Roasting is a great method to ensure that foods cook evenly on all sides and is one of the most effective and delicious ways to cook large cuts of meat and poultry, as well as vegetables. Through a process called the Maillard reaction, caramelization occurs on the surface of the meat, enhancing flavor. Unlike other cooking methods, whereby your constant attention is required, roasting allows the heat to do all the work. Roasting and baking are often used interchangeably, but there’s a difference. Roasting refers to foods that have a solid structure before you begin cooking, whereas baking refers to foods without initial structure, like cupcakes and cookies.
Chicken, as well as large cuts of beef, pork and lamb roasts are all commonly roasted. When it comes to beef, popular cuts for roasting include the sirloin tip, which is affordable and lean, and standing rib roast, also known as prime rib, which has wonderful fat and marbling. Smaller cuts of poultry and meat are more likely to dry out in the oven but can be seared in a pan and then finished by a short roast in the oven. Duck breasts and pork chops are good candidates for this two-step process, which locks in juices and forms a flavorful crust.
Unlike other cooking methods, whereby your constant attention is required, roasting allows the heat to do all the work.
A blend of root vegetables are commonly roasted on their own in oil and served as a side dish. Zucchini, asparagus and cauliflower also lend themselves well to roasting and, if you’ve never tried roasted brussels sprouts, you’re in for a treat. Crisp, with a nutty flavor, they are a far cry from the boiled, soggy mess that many have come to associate with the vegetable.
Whole fish and nuts can also be roasted. If roasting fish, it is best to leave the head on it, which will help to retain moisture. If it’s raw nuts you’re roasting, be sure they are shelled and try to roast each nut variety individually, since nuts vary in size and will toast at different rates.
Chicken, as well as large cuts of beef, pork and lamb roasts are all commonly roasted.
You can use a large baking dish for roasting but, when it comes to large pieces of meat, a roasting pan is best. These are wide and open with a rack inside which helps to increase the circulation of hot air around the meat and further promote even cooking. If your pan doesn’t have a rack, use vegetables like leeks and carrots as a bed for your roast.
If your roast doesn’t come tied, you’ll need to keep butchers’ twine (oven-safe string) on hand in order to truss the meat before roasting. Tying your roast will keep it the same thickness throughout and create a uniform shape. Apart from a suitable pan and twine, you’ll need a meat thermometer for accurate temperatures.
If your pan doesn’t have a rack, use vegetables like leeks and carrots as a bed for your roast.
When roasting meat, there are a few simple rules to follow that often get forgotten by home cooks. It is very important to preheat your oven before roasting, as well as allowing any meats to come to room temperature before cooking. When it comes to checking the internal temperature of a roast, always insert your thermometer into the thickest part of the meat, away from any bones, to ensure an accurate reading.
Something else to keep in mind is that a meat roast will continue to rise in temperature even after it’s taken out of the oven. You may have heard this referred to as ‘carryover cooking.' This is why you must rest your meat before cutting, allowing for an increase of between 5 to 15 degrees. After the meat has been resting for at least 10 minutes, it’s ready to slice into and enjoy!