Tips On How to Cook A Great Roast

Words: Jess Spiro

Now that winter is well and truly here (finally!) it is time to make sure your roast game is on point. Is there any better way to embrace winter than to lock that front door, pop something meaty in the oven and crack open some red wine while you wait? While there are a million recipes out there for the perfect chicken, prime rib, pork belly etc, sometimes pulling it all together can be tricky. We are here to help you get over that fear with our tips on how to cook a great roast and pull off the dreamiest roast dinner, complete with all the trimmings.

Pick good meat

What kind of publication would we be if we didn’t bang on about how to cook good food, you need to start with good ingredients? And that couldn’t apply more to any component of your meal than your meat. At this stage, you need to be buying your meat from a proper butcher (see our favourite ones HERE.) The reason for this is that they’ll really be able to guide you on your journey to ultimate roast greatness. Whether you go for chicken, pork, lamb, beef or something wild like venison, a butcher needs to be your first port of call.

Once you have your meat, you’ll need to prepare it correctly. If you’re into brining your chicken for extra flavour, you can get that done at least a couple of hours before you plan to cook. If you’re doing something fatty, like pork belly, then your best chance of getting crispy skin is scoring it and salting it overnight.

High heat, then lower

The theory behind perfecting a joint of meat is that high heat is your friend. You’ll want to get your oven nice and hot (at about 220 ºC), so that you can form a great crispy skin situation straight away. Once your meat is ready for the oven, grease it up with oil (or butter if roasting a chicken) and season it generously. Then, pop it into the hot oven, keeping an eye on it for the first 20 minutes or so, depending on how big the cut is. Once you’ve got that desired golden skin, you can drop the oven temperature to something a little less aggressive (190 ºC should do it) so that your meat can continue cooking through, albeit a little slower and more delicately.

 Sides

While your meat is in the oven, it’s now time to sort your sides out. Naturally, roast potatoes are the obvious match for any roast dinner (try Chef Rudi Liebenberg’s recipe HERE.), but for the rest of the meal, you do want to switch it up a bit. Unfortunately, as the name suggests, most of the components will be roasted.

Any root veg you do (like these butternut wedges) will need to be coordinated with everything else in the oven. And, remember to make full use of the shelves in your oven. We’re also fans of Yorkshire puddings, you can make the batter well in advance and simply cook them as your meat is resting. Something like blanched asparagus (with a cheese sauce if you’re feeling luxurious) is always a great way to add some green freshness to your plate too.

Resting the meat

You need to give your meat time to rest, to allow the juices to settle and be reabsorbed into the meat. If you skip this step, the meat will be a pain to carve and you’ll end up with meat juices all over your plate. Give the meat at least 20-30 minutes, which will also give you time to finish things up in the oven and make your gravy.

Making a kickass gravy

If there is one single piece of advice you take from this article, let it be this: roast your meat in a vessel that can be used on your hob. Meaning, whatever you roast your meat in should be stove-proof. The reason for this is simple, all those bits of meat and juices that collect in the bottom of the pan add to the flavour of your gravy. So, once you take your meat out, you can cook your gravy straight in that pan with all those delicious bits.

Carving

Carving meat is pretty simple, naturally, a chicken is the trickiest as you’ll want to properly separate the legs and thighs, the wings and breasts from the carcass. But with a big joint of beef or a roll of lamb, simple slices will suffice. If you’ve gone for a wild card cut like a shoulder of pork or lamb, then you’ll be able to pull away generous chunks – provided you’ve cooked it properly.

Serving

Now, all that’s left is to tuck in. Place your generous feast onto heaving platters and tell everyone to help themselves. Make sure you have a good bottle of red open and that someone else does the washing up to thank you for all your hard work.

Now that you know what you’re doing, try these recipes for Greek Style Roast Leg of Lamb or Roast Pork Loin on the Crown and check out our ultimate collection of roast recipes.

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