Practical Roasting Guidelines from a Master Chef
It’s been said that food is the most primitive form of comfort. ‘Roasting’, surely, was the most primitive means of cooking our meat. Below we share a sure-fire method for making your roasts the perfect comfort food compliments of Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall, one of our favorite cookbook authors and a proponent of naturally raised meats.
Any thoughtful cook will admit the key to their sumptuous meal starts well before kitchen activity begins – it starts on the farm (how the animals are raised,) and later at the butcher’s (how the meat is processed and handled.) Quite simply, starting with a piece of quality meat (and here, cut is a secondary consideration) is the foundation upon which all truly great meals begin.
Exactly, what is ‘roasting’? Roasting entails cooking your meat in an oven where it has direct exposure to freely circulating dry heat. Properly roasted meat is tender, delicious, appetizing, and seductive with its crackled finish. Roasting enhances the flavor, color and the aroma of your meat. And, did you know that roasted meat is easier to digest than meats cooked otherwise?
We’ve become a huge fan of Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall, author of The River Cottage MEAT Book. Hugh offers up a simple approach to roasting meats that we believe yields superlative results, and for that reason we want to share it with you.
Hugh’s Theory of Perfection is based on a simple 3 step process:
Phase I: “The Half Hour Sizzle” – a short brief burst of high heat cooking in a pre-heated oven, typically between 400-450 degrees F, for 20 – 30 minutes.
Phase II: “The Cooking” – a longer, low heat cook typically between 325-350 degrees. The length of this phase is determined by the size, thickness and level of preferred ‘doneness’ of your meat.
A meat thermometer is your best friend in determining when your roast is ready. As a general rule beef, lamb and venison should be cooked to the following internal temps: rare/125; med/140; well/160. Pork guidelines are: med/160 and well/170.
Phase III: “The Rest” – your roast is not finished until it has rested for 20-30 minutes at room temperature. In fact, Hugh suggests this may be the most important component of his formula as it allows for the juices to settle back into the meat, travelling from the outside back toward the center as the temperature evens out through the meat. This step yields that moist, meaty, flavorful staunch of meat that only a roast can deliver.
Give our roasts a try: we can’t imagine a more enjoyable evening than sharing the comfort and joy of a delicious and savory roast among family and friends.
p.s. We have Hugh’s book in our shops; stop by and take a look.