Roasting is defined by the use of intense dry heat with the view to caramelising and crisping the outside of the meat. Traditionally this method was usually done as whole carcasses or large joints on a spit over open coals but nowadays refers mainly to meat or poultry cooked in an oven. Fish and some vegetables may also be roasted, and potatoes, for example.
- Shopping – Roasts unlike stews, braises or even cured and smoked dishes are unadorned and therefore the first important point is the quality of the meat that you are going to roast.
- Cut – unless you are going to roast and entire animal then the prime cuts are the best and wherever possible try and roast on the bone as this is not only more flavoursome but also helps to prevent shrinkage. • Beef- rump, sirloin, fillet, rib eye. • Lamb – leg, rack, saddle • Pork – loin, belly (although belly isn’t a prime cut) • When using poultry, it’s always best to use the whole bird
- Quantity – the bigger the piece of meat the more forgiving the roasting process is so always err on the side of plenty – there is very seldom much left over from a good roast.
- Room temperature – always remove your meat from the fridge well before you intend to roast it. Leave it covered so that when it goes into the oven it is at room temperature. The larger the joint to be roasted the longer in advance you need to remove it from the fridge.
- Seasoning – season liberally with salt and pepper, remember that particularly on large pieces of meat you are only helping to develop that glorious crust that make roasts so appealing. If you want to introduction a myriad of different flavours rather do this with your accompaniments.
- Heat – put your seasoned joint into a furiously hot oven (200º-250ºC) for the first 10 – 15 minutes (this initial intensity can be longer for larger pieces of meat) – this will help to develop that magnificent crust. This is best done at the beginning of the cooking process while the core temperature of the meat is low so that no unnecessary moisture loss occurs. Cranking up the heat to “brown” the meat at the end when the core temperature is close to ready will result in unwanted moisture loss. Once this initial scorching process is complete turn the oven down to a cooler 150ºC for the rest of the roasting period.
- Cooking times & temperatures– cooking times can be deceptive as most guidelines are based on weight not on thickness – (a 10cm piece of sausage will cook in the same time as a 5cm piece even though it is double the weight).
- The best way to check large pieces of meat is with a meat thermometer.
- Cooking temperatures: Beef, Lamb & Venison Pork Rare 50ºC Medium rare 55ºC 55ºC Medium 60ºC 60ºC Well done 70ºC 70ºC The best test for chicken is to tip the bird forwards and check the colour of the juices that run out – if they are clear the bird is done.
- Resting – this is without doubt the most important part of roasting. All pieces of meat, whole or otherwise need to rest after cooking for at least 15 minutes. The easiest method to do this and make sure that the roast doesn’t get cold is to turn off your oven and leave the door open. If your oven doesn’t cool down quickly then place the roast on the stove top and cover with foil.