There are many different types of roasting
methods. In some cases, roasting is used as a preliminary step in other
preparations. For example, bones are often roasted for stocks. Be sure
that the bones are cut into the correct lengths. Allow them sufficient
time to drain and dry before placing them in the oven for the best
results. Mirepoix and tomato products are also roasted in many types of
Select tender meats from the rib and loin
areas for the best results. The more tender cuts from the legs of certain
animals, such as top round, are also excellent when roasted. Young, tender
birds may be roasted, as may whole fish. Whole chickens are roasted, or
cut into pieces and "baked".
Vegetables and fruits are roasted or baked,
the terminology varies according to custom. Vegetables cooked whole and in
their skins are pierced or scored. This allows the steam that builds up as
the food cooks to escape. If this step is omitted, you will find that you
have exploding potatoes and squash shrapnel to clean. A layer of fat or
poultry skin is traditionally allowed to remain. It is felt that this
bastes foods naturally, as they roast. For additional flavor during
roasting, herbs or aromatic vegetables may be used to stuff the cavity, or
they may be inserted just under the skin.
Today, with an increased concern over the
amount of fat in diets, every trace of visible fat or skin is often
removed in an effort to keep foods "fat-free". Should the natural
protection of fat or skin be removed, then, foods might become dry and
lose flavor. In that case, an alternative "skin" should be added, in the
form of coatings or crusts. You should be aware, however, that it has been
determined that the amount of fat released from skin or fat layers as
foods roast does not penetrate far into the meat. Since it does provide
some protection from the drying effects of an oven without dramatically
changing the amount of fat, you may opt to leave it in place or remove the
fat or skin before the item is served.
Barding - tying thin sheets of
fatback, bacon or fat - and larding - inserting small strips of
fatback into a food. have been the traditional preparation techniques for
roasted foods that are naturally lean. Venison, wild boar, game birds and
certain cuts of beef or lamb may be candidates. These same techniques,
using different products are used today. Rather than larding a roast with
fatback, today you may find a roast has been studded with slivers of
garlic. A "robe" of shredded potatoes may be applied in place of the
bacon. Foods such as chicken breast, chops, squashes, tomatoes, peppers,
or apples are frequently stuffed before roasting. Keep all foods at the
correct temperature at each stage of preparation.
It is often a good idea to baste and season
them before and during cooking. Mirepoix is used to flavor the jus or pan
gravy for roasted items. It should be cut into a size that allows it to
brown properly. If it will be added during roasting, take into account the
overall cooking time. The longer a roast cooks, the larger the cut should
be. If you will add it at the last moment, cut the mirepoix small, so that
it will brown properly in a much shorter amount of time. To complete the
pan gravy or jus, a rich stock, or brown sauce should be on hand. Pan
gravy calls for flour to make a roux, while a jus is usually thickened
with arrowroot or cornstarch.
Roasting pans or baking sheets should be of
the right size and shape to hold the food correctly. There should be
enough room for air to circulate freely, but not so much that any juices
that render from the food are likely to scorch.
The less that comes between the food and
direct contact with the heated air, the more successfully the food will
roast. To that end, you may want to set foods on roasting racks, beds or
mirepoix, or even bones. Or you may prefer to set the foods directly on
very shallow roasting or baking pans. The food should remain uncovered.
Covering the pan will trap the steam that escapes from the meat. Roasting
pans that are too deep for the food will also create a steam bath that
could affect the finished quality of the dish.
You may also need butcher's twine or
skewers, instant-reading thermometers, and a kitchen fork. You will need
an additional pan to hold the roasted food while you make a sauce from the
pan drippings, Strainers and skimmers or ladles are necessary to prepare
the sauce. A carving knife should be nearby for the final service.