Roasting is one of the easiest and most flavorful methods of cooking. It typically involves cooking in an oven, uncovered, at a high heat without any liquids such as wine, water, or stock. The result for meats, poultry, or fish is a delicious golden brown exterior; for vegetables, it's a crisp skin. Whatever food you roast will have a moist, flavorful interior. In this everyday cooking lesson, Martha explains the basics of the kinds of food and the proper equipment to use for roasting.
What to Roast
Roasting, which typically begins at a higher temperature, creates a crisp skin on vegetables or a browned skin on meats, poultry, and fish. Once crisped or browned, reduce the temperature as necessary and roast until cooked through. A general rule of thumb when roasting: The smaller the roast, the higher the temperature.
Be sure to season well with salt and pepper. This accentuates the natural flavor and sweetness that comes from roasting. When roasting vegetables, cut pieces into uniform sizes to ensure even cooking.
Some seasonings to use that highlight natural flavors in roasting include: fresh herbs, such as thyme, chervil, tarragon, and rosemary; garlic; and lemon.
When roasting vegetables, fish, or poultry -- ingredients that are less fatty than meat -- use an oil or moistening agent to prevent burning or sticking, and to impart a richer flavor. For oil and moisturizing agents, you can use olive oil or melted or softened butter.
When roasting meats and poultry, baste using juices that have accumulated in the roasting pan. An instant-read thermometer is invaluable, but never let the thermometer touch the bone, or you will get an inaccurate reading. Remove the meat from the oven as soon as the temperature of the roast reaches 10 degrees below the desired final temperature, since the meat will continue to cook out of the oven. Let the meat or poultry rest for 10 to 15 minutes before carving so the internal juices have an opportunity to distribute evenly. Use a conventional rack in a roasting pan to prevent sticking and burning; you may also use a layer of bones or aromatic vegetables placed in the bottom of the pan.
A heavy-bottomed roasting pan with strong handles is a worthwhile investment. When roasting meats and poultry, these pans go directly from the oven to the stovetop to make gravy and other sauces using the delicious browned bits that collect at the bottom, also called fond.
Recipes for Roasting
Now that you've learned the essential lessons of how to roast, try your hand at making some of Martha's favorite recipes: roast chicken and roasted vegetables.