They say a meal roasted in the oven can magically transform an ordinary day into a grand celebration. With minimal effort, virtually any food can be roasted- from meats, poultry and seafood. The result is a wonderfully caramelized piece of meat on the outside, yet juicy and tender on the inside.
That reminds me of another saying: “A kitchen is never truly your own until you’ve roasted a chicken in it!”
There is something wonderfully elemental about roasting, a tradition that reaches back to when the first foods were cooked over an open fire. Even though most roasting today is done in home ovens, the results are enticing and often with irresistible aromas.
Once the roast is in the oven, most of your work is done apart from the occasional basting, turning, or glazing.
The terms generally associated with roasting are trussing, trimming, seasoning, stuffing or marinating. Trussing is just trying a bird/poultry to make it compact for even cooking and to retain shape. Whole fillets of meat are also normally marinated and tied with kitchen string at regular intervals so the piece of meat retains its shape and is easy to carve.
Trimming is the simple task of removing excess fat or making slits along the membranes at regular intervals in which herbs or pieces of garlic can be inserted.
You do not need to use a whole poultry or chicken for stuffing; you could use cuts of meat or just legs with skin. Breast pieces could be slit and stuffed with cheese, aromatic herbs or chutney and the skin under the legs or breast pieces could be loosened and marinated with a mixture of butter and herbs and smoked paprika or stuffed with prosciutto or bacon.
Marinating is best done overnight so all the flavours are absorbed and keeps the meat tender and juicy during the cooking process. Here, a heavy-duty zip lock bag is ideal. Just put all your mixture in the bag, place the bird or piece of meat in it, make sure it is well-coated, press out the air from the bag, seal it and refrigerate it.
Marinating, stuffing, glazing is all connected to enhancing flavour and conserving moisture of your roast. Marinating is the most common way to flavour a roast. Wet marinades also add moisture and they have a tenderizing effect.
Seasoning blends, known as dry marinades, are rubbed directly onto the surface of the roast. Stuffing’s even simple ones, tucked under poultry skin, also add flavour while holding in moisture.
One of the most important tasks a cook must perform is to baste regularly by spooning or brushing on juices, a marinate or a glaze. Thus, the formation of a crust is promoted and the fresh stays moist. Trying bacon on top of a roast or stuffing butter or oil mixed with a dry-marinade beneath poultry skin, also helps the fresh to baste itself as it cooks.
Whenever you roast, pay attention to the suggested cooking time. Start testing for doneness at the earliest time suggested, by either using a fork or a sharp knife or as suggested in your recipe. With smaller items, a closer look may give some ideas of doneness whereas whole roast poultry is traditionally tested by piercing the thigh to see if the juices are clear.
Large cuts of meat are more problematic. Once you are experienced in the art of roasting, simply pressing a fingertip against the roast will give you your answer about the degree of doneness just by the resistance you feel.
Present your roast beautifully and make it a memorable meal.