Roasting is one of our favorite set-and-forget cooking methods. As an added bonus to the rich, slow-cooked flavors, roasting fills your house with warm and delicious aromas.
Roasting is a dry-heat method of cooking that's well-suited to large cuts of meat, poultry, and fish. It can also be used to caramelize the natural sugars in fruits and vegetables to make even picky eaters fall in love with the flavors.
Food is usually roasted in an uncovered pan in the oven. Because roasted foods are cooked at a high heat with little―if any―added moisture, they take on a crusty, browned exterior and a moist interior. When choosing a roasting pan, search for the "Goldilocks" fit—not too big and not too small. 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, 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 helps you roast perfectly cooked meat every time. To be sure you get an accurate reading, insert the thermometer into the center of the largest muscle or thickest portion of the meat. The thermometer should not touch any fat or bone. 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.)
Place meat, fat side up, on a rack in a shallow roasting pan. For ham, if desired, score the top in a diamond pattern. Insert a meat thermometer. Do not add water or liquid, and do not cover. Roast in a 325°F oven, unless chart or recipe says otherwise, for the time given and until the thermometer registers 5 degrees below the specified temperature. Remove the roast from the oven; cover with foil and let it stand 15 minutes.The meat's temperature will rise 5 degrees during the time it stands.
Follow the roasting tips below for poultry. Since birds vary in size, shape, and tenderness, adjust accordingly using our handy roasting temperature chart as a guide.
Now that you know how to roast, try the strategy with these foolproof recipes.