What is Roasting?

Simply means to cook uncovered in the oven.
Roasting has long been a favorite method for cooking tender joints of meat. The reason is that when you roast your meat, not only does the outside become attractively browned and crispy, but the inside remains tender and juicy. Roasting itself refers to a dry heat method of cooking in the oven. It is considered a dry heat method because no liquid is added to the meat to cook it, but the meat is left uncovered to cook. Generally, it is advised to place meat on a raised rack inside the roasting pan in order to allow air to circulate freely around the meat. Another option, although more messy, is to place the meat directly on the oven rack, and place a pan on the shelf underneath to catch the juice and fat that comes out of the meat. Either method will work equally well.

The standard roasting temperature of the oven is 350 degrees F. However, you can roast at lower temperatures if you extend the cooking times. This will result in a juicy and flavorful roast, if you have the patience to wait. (It is not recommended, however, to roast poultry below the temperature of 325 degrees F., as this can cause food safety issues. The temperatures, if too low, will not kill all the bacteria in the poultry. Yuck!) No matter what temperature you roast at, however, the best and only way to tell if the meat is cooked to your preference is with a meat thermometer. Digital Instant Read Thermometers are the easiest to use, but any meat thermometer will do. Only by checking the exact temperature inside the meat can you be sure if it is really done cooking.

There are several different opinions on the proper way to go about roasting your meat. While everyone seems to agree on the basic time of roasting, there seems to be dispute on the first 10-15 minutes of cooking and the placing of the meat. Let's address that here.

The most common way to roast your meat is to preheat the oven to a piping hot 425 degrees F. Prepare your meat and place it in a rack in a roasting pan. Now here is where some of the debate comes in. While some recipes demand that the meat be placed fat-side up (in order to allow the flavor and juice from the fat to flow into the meat while cooking), other recipes claim that it makes no significant difference and call for you to place the meat fat-side down. (In the instance of poultry, it would be either breast-side up or breast-side down) Whichever way you choose, place your meat on the rack and place in the preheated oven. Allow the meat to cook at 425 for 10-15 minutes in order to allow the meat to seal in the juices. Then turn the oven down to 350 degrees F. and continue cooking for the recommended time. For approximate guides, please click here.

Another way to roast your meat is to preheat your oven directly to the 350 degrees F. that you will be cooking at, and put the meat in at that temperature. The cooking time will obviously be a little longer than above. In both cases, the skin on the meat will brown nicely and the meat itself will be juicy and tender.

For information on roasting turkey & other tips, please click here.

Helpful Hints:
  • Roasting works best on the more tender cuts of meat. When doing your shopping for a roast look for use cuts such as rib roast, ribeye roast, tenderloin, tri-tip roast, sirloin roast and rump roast.
  • A common mistake in choosing meat is thinking that leaner is better. This is not necessarily true. A good proportion of fat adds the juice which prevents the meat from being too dry. If you’re unsure, ask the butcher to recommend a cut that’s good for roasting. If you have no objection to bone-in cuts, use these when possible. The bone will help conduct heat and allow the meat to cook evenly, retaining as many juices as possible.
  • Always make sure to ‘rest' the meat before carving. Juices rise to the surface of the meat during cooking, and allowing the meat to sit, covered, for 15-20 minutes will allow these juices to sink back into the meat, giving a moist result throughout.
  • While resting, the internal temperature of the meat will continue to rise 5-10 degrees. Therefore, when you take your final temperature measurement before removing the meat from the oven, take this into account! For example, if you are roasting a boneless rib roast to medium, the internal temperature for medium is 145 degrees. Remove from oven at 140 degrees to ensure perfect medium cooking of the final product.
  • Take your meat out about 30 minutes before cooking, to allow it to come up to room temperature.
  • If you are using lean meat, sear the meat by browning it in a pan first, then roasting. This will help keep what fat there is in the meat from drying out.
  • Keep an eye on your roast. If it appears to be drying out, take a baster and baste it with juices collecting in the bottom of pan.

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