Sunday Dinners: Learning How to Roast

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By Lyndsey Fought

One of my absolute favorite methods of cooking is roasting. Roasting is usually used interchangeably with baking, but the kind of roasting I’m talking about usually applies to poultry and meats, although it can be used to cook other foods.

Roasting is cooking with dry and high heat. Cooking the food uncovered is essential, as covering it locks in steam and changes the method from dry-heat (roasting) to moist-heat (steaming or braising). Roasting vegetables imparts caramelization, which I am a huge fan of.

The following is a menu (by me!) that based around the roasting method with accompaniments that complement the main components.

Roasted Pork Loin with Garlic and Rosemary

Note:  I’m very serious when I say this: do not overcook your meat. Do not. Please for the love of all that is delicious, do not overcook your poultry or meat. Your meat does not need to be totally white, tasteless, and dry. The minimum internal temperature for pork is 145 degrees Fahrenheit (lowered from the long-standing 160 degree standard approximately two years ago). Get an instant read thermometer and pull your pork out when the center most meat reads 140 degrees Fahrenheit. Why five degrees less? Carry over cooking. This is the phenomena where food retains heat and continues to raise in temperature after being removed from the heat source.

What you’ll need: 

  • 1 3 lb. pork loin, trimmed of excessive fat
  • 3 large garlic cloves
  • Course salt, large pinch
  • Ground pepper, small pinch
  • 3 tablespoons butter
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 3 tablespoons rosemary
  • 1 tablespoon tarragon
  • 2 tablespoon Dijon mustard

How to prepare it: 

  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit.
  2. Put all ingredients except the pork into a blender, blend until it’s a fine paste.
  3. Smear the pork loin with this mixture. Place in roasting pan.
  4. Bake until thermometer read 140 degrees, about 55 minutes. Remove from oven. Cover with foil.
  5. Allow to rest! Seriously! This is an important step, if you cut into the meat too quickly the juices will leave the meat because they don’t have time to redistribute. Rest for approximately ten minutes.

Mashed Potatoes

What you’ll need: 

  • 6 large potatoes (weighing about 4-5 pounds)
  • 3 tablespoons butter
  • ½ cup cream, hot
  • Milk, as needed
  • Salt
  • White pepper

How to prepare it: 

  1. Boil water. Peel potatoes. Add potatoes to water.
  2. Drain well. Allow to sit for a moment.
  3. Pass the potatoes through a food mill, this prevents overworking the potatoes like blenders or mixers may. (If you don’t have a ricer or food mill, use what you have just don’t over mix or blend.)
  4. Beat in butter and cream.
  5. If too thick add milk until proper consistency.  Season with pepper and salt.

Roasted Broccoli

What you’ll need: 

  • 2 lbs of chopped broccoli
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • Course salt
  • Ground pepper

How to prepare it: 

  1. Put broccoli in the shallow roasting pan. Make sure the broccoli isn’t crowded, it’s an anti-social baby and likes to roast with plenty of room. If it is crowded it may result in steaming rather than roasting.
  2. Coat with olive oil, sprinkle with salt and pepper. Toss with your hands.
  3. About ten minutes before pork roast is done, put the broccoli in.
  4. Bake at 400 for approximately 20 minutes. The broccoli should be sufficiently browned on the tips, not black but sufficiently brown, this is where the flavor is, you want brown!

Perfect Brownies with Roasted Strawberries

What you’ll need: 

  • 1/2 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
  • 4 ounces good quality dark chocolate bar, I used Lindt 70% cocoa
  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter, cut into pieces
  • 3/4  cup firmly packed dark brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon pure almond extract
  • 2 large eggs
  • 3/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
  • 3 cups strawberries, hulled and halved
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • Whipped cream, optional
  • Chocolate syrup, optional

How to prepare it: 

  1. Preheat to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Butter and flour an 8×8 baking pan.
  2. Chop the baking bar into small pieces, heat in double boiler over simmering water. Add butter, mix until smooth.
  3. Let cool to room temperature, add sugar and almond extract. Add eggs, mix well.
  4. Sift in flour, powder, and salt. Fold in.
  5. Stir in chocolate chips.
  6. Bake for 25 minutes, until a tester ALMOST comes out clean. (Brownies should be sticky so if the tester comes out totally clean your brownies will be dry!)
  7. Up the temperature to 400 degrees, arrange the strawberries on shallow roasting pan in single layer flat side down.
  8. Sprinkle with sugar.
  9. Roast for approximately 5-10 minutes. You want the strawberries soft but don’t burn the sugar!
  10. After cooling brownies for 10 minutes, cut into squares and serve with the strawberries. Top with optional chocolate syrup and whipped cream.

I hope you enjoy messing around with roasting! Comment with any questions!

Next Week: Small Bites. See all previous Sunday Dinner columns here

About Lyndsey:

I have too many interests and I get easily distracted, so I haven’t completed a single thing in my life. Yay, hyperboles! I have been to culinary school and I like baking cupcakes. I write the beginnings of too many novels. I am driven by ambition and delayed by perfectionism.

I would like to travel the world, learn from others, write some best sellers, and have a restaurant or bakery someday. I am a Slytherin. I like the tenth Doctor best (followed by ninth). I am too obsessed with Downton Abbey and the whole etiquette of that era. I never forget to be awesome!

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