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Sunday Guardian www.guardian.co.tt November 29, 2015
I WANT ROAST MEAT this Christmas. Gorgeous,
glazed, moist roasts, crisp on the outside and succulent
on the inside, that is, not tough, dried out, or raw in the
middle. How to achieve that? Here are some hints.
WHAT ROASTING DOES
Roasting involves cooking food in an uncovered pan in
the oven. It is a dry cooking technique, as opposed to
wet techniques like braising, stewing, or steaming. Dry,
hot air surrounds the food, cooking it evenly on all
sides. Depending on the food you're preparing, you can
roast at low, moderate, or high temperatures.
BEST BETS FOR ROASTING
Large cuts of meat work well: ham, whole turkeys or
chickens, or tenderloins. Smaller cuts like boneless
chicken breasts or fish fillets may dry out in the oven
(they're usually better sautéed). Roasting is also ideal
for dense vegetables such as potatoes, beets, and
squash, as it concentrates their natural sugars and in-
tensifies their flavour.
Choose the temperature according to the type of food
you're roasting. Vegetables usually need a moderate
temperature, near 375°F (190°C) so that internal water
evaporates quickly to concentrate the flavour without
the food browning too deeply or becoming too soft.
In general, use low (250°F/120°C) to moderate
(375°F/190°C) heat for large roasts, so they'll cook
evenly and slowly (high heat would burn the outside of
the roast before it's done on the inside). High-heat
(above 400°F/200°C) roasting works well for small,
tender cuts such as tenderloins because it quickly pro-
duces a browned crust, and the meat cooks adequately
in a short time.
A heavy roasting pan with a rack is a good investment.
A roasting pan has low sides, allowing more of the
oven's heat to make contact with the food. Choose a
heavy pan, as it will distribute heat evenly and isn't as
likely to burn pan drippings. A rack is helpful to suspend
food, producing a lot of drippings. If you don't have a
rack, place a wire cooling rack in the pan. You can also
use a broiler pan for roasting, but these pans are shal-
low, so be careful not to spill hot drippings out of the
pan. You'll need butchers' twine to truss (tie) chickens,
turkeys, and some roasts so they hold their shape as
they cook. A meat thermometer is essential, since the
key to perfectly roasted meats is to not overcook them.
Choose an instant-read or a remote digital model.
Whether you should baste meat or leave it alone as it
cooks depends on various factors. A standing rib roast,
for example, should not be basted because one of its
best features is the salty crust that forms over the meat
as it roasts; you wouldn't want to wash that away.
Whole chickens and turkeys have enough fat under the
skin (which we discard after cooking) that they self-
baste as the fat slowly melts and coats the meat.
Frequent basting also means you're opening the oven
door and letting the heat escape, which could
lengthen the cook time or prevent the meat from
properly browning. Understand that basting isn't nec-
essary to keep food moist. If, however, you want to
add more flavour in the form of a glaze, basting is a
LET IT REST
All meat should rest for 10 to 20 minutes after it's re-
moved from the oven. Larger cuts a standing rib roast,
for example retain enough internal heat so that they
continue to cook out of the oven, up to an added 10 de-
grees or so. Smaller cuts like pork tenderloins do not
have enough mass to continue cooking by more than a
couple of degrees. But the main reason meat should
rest is to allow the juices to redistribute. If you slice into
a roast chicken or beef roast immediately upon pulling it
out of the oven, all the juices would pour out onto the
platter, and the resulting meat would be dry.
Cook poultry to an internal temperature of 330°F/165°C.
Reheat fully cooked ham to 280°F/140°C. For some beef,
lamb, pork, and game cuts, however, cook to lower tem-
peratures because it produces juicier results. If you are
pregnant, older, have a compromised immune system, or
are serving to children, cook beef or lamb to a minimum
of 290°F/145°, and pork and game to 320°F/160°C.
THE BOTTOM LINE
The three most important elements to remember
1. Generally, choose lower oven temperatures for larger
cuts of meat and higher oven temperatures for
2. Use a heavy roasting pan.
3. Allow meat to rest for 10 to 20 minutes before slicing.
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