Roasting Methods

Roasting Methods

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 brown stocks.

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.

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