On leisurely Sundays, when the afternoon stretches before you with only the promise of a newspaper or good book to read, putting dinner in the oven and letting it roast while you play is a lovely way to fill your house with warmth and delicious smells.
Roasting is a dry-heat method of cooking usually reserved for larger cuts of meat or poultry--though vegetables and fish (particularly salmon) can also be roasted.
Food is usually roasted in an uncovered pan in the oven. Because roasted foods are cooked at a fairly high heat with little--if any--added moisture, they usually have a crusty, browned exterior and a juicy interior. When choosing a pan to roast foods in, be sure you have a good fit. No part of the food should hang out of the pan--but if the pan is too small, any juices that are released will likely burn. The food should fit comfortably inside the pan, with no more than an inch or two of space between it and the sides of the pan. If you like to use the drippings from a roast or chicken to make gravy, invest in a heavy aluminum pan that can be placed directly over a flame or electric burner.
A roasting rack helps elevate the food out of any juices it releases so that it truly roasts and does not stew or steam, ensuring the delicious crust and crispy skin that is part of the appeal of roasted foods.
A meat thermometer guarantees perfectly cooked meat every time. To be sure you get an accurate reading, insert the thermometer into the center of the largest muslce or thickest portion of the meat. The thermometer should not touch any fat or bone in the pan. When the meat reaches the desired doneness, push in the thermometer a little farther. If the temperature drops, continue cooking. If it stays the same, remove the meat. Cover the meat, and let it stand about 15 minutes before carving. (It will continue to cook while standing).
Continued on page 2: Basic Meat Roasting