The perfect roast
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It’s almost Easter, which means it’s time to start planning a tasty Easter feast for the family. I’m looking forward to a long relaxing weekend, with plenty of celebratory food. Easter is a little early this year, and we’ve still even got a dusting of snow on the ground. This makes me want to stay inside, turn on the oven and put in a nice slow-roast to feed the family, between munching on chocolate bunnies and eggs…
Sales of lamb go into overdrive at Easter time and peak in March and April. No wonder, as it’s the quintessential Easter roast. But there are plenty of tasty alternatives, too.
After much trial and error as a home cook with lots of hungry mouths to feed, I’ve found I get the best results by slow-roasting. You also get the added advantage of more time to get everything else ready.
The perfect joint of meat doesn’t have to be super-expensive. In fact, buying a cut that you can slow-roast, such as a shoulder, can be very economical. The best cuts of meat for slow-roasting are generally a shoulder or leg of lamb. A really easy recipe to follow is Jamie’s Incredible Roasted Shoulder of Lamb with smashed veg and greens. Fall-apart lamb suitable for grannies and toddlers alike, seasonal vegetables and a tasty, rich homemade gravy.
If you’re breaking with tradition or just don’t fancy lamb this Easter, a great alternative is pork. Try Jamie’s 6 Hour Slow-Roasted Pork Shoulder or a high-welfare British Pork Belly Roast. I once visited America at Easter-time and remember eating an Easter Ham, which can be a really great way to feed a large crowd and there should be plenty left for cold cuts, too. I’m very tempted by Easter lamb, but I might also try Jamie’s Glazed Jerk Ham over the long weekend, using a gammon on the bone, for a Paddington-bear inspired twist.
Before you roast
Always take your roasting joint out of the fridge up to an hour before you are going to cook it. If you take your meat out of the fridge and put it straight into the oven, the joint will be too cold and will toughen as it gets hit by the heat.
To get ahead, you can flavour up your meat the night before by making up a spice rub, or simply using fresh herbs such as rosemary or thyme, or the failsafe flavour hit of lemon, garlic and olive oil.
If you can, make a bed of veggies for your meat to sit on. This raises the meat off the base of the roasting tin so it doesn’t stick, and sets you up to make gravy packed with flavour.
Remembering to let the joint rest after cooking is important, too. Just as taking the joint out of the fridge before roasting allows the meat to ease up, once it’s out of the oven the meat of the joint needs time to ‘relax’. Simply take the joint out of the oven, transfer it onto a warm dish, cover it with foil and let it sit for about twenty minutes. You can then collect any extra juices and add them into your gravy.
You can’t have a good Easter roast without the perfect roast potatoes and veggies to serve on the side. Follow Jamie’s top tips for the Perfect Roast Potatoes or simply throw in some roughly-chopped root veggies into the roasting tin around an hour before the end of cooking time. At home, whether we have roast lamb, pork, beef or even a roast chicken, my kids insist on having Yorkshire puddings on the side, so we never forget those.
The perfect veggies to go with your roast? Well, we’re a little early for British asparagus this year, so we’ll be having some baby topped spring carrots and some in-season purple sprouting broccoli. I might also serve some British spring greens or Jamie’s Green Veggies with Flavoured Butter.
Here’s to a great Easter and to the start of new beginnings!
The Perfect Crock Pot Roast
The Perfect Crock Pot Roast really is my Momma&rsquos recipe that I grew up on. I have tried TONS of roast recipes, and even though I have tried some pretty fantastic recipes, this has always been my favorite.
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- 1 six-pound roasting chicken
- 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
- Salt and freshly ground black pepper
- 2 medium onions, peeled and sliced crosswise 1/2 inch thick
- 2 lemons
- 3 large cloves garlic, peeled
- 4 sprigs fresh thyme
- 1 cup Homemade Chicken Stock, or canned low-sodium chicken broth, skimmed of fat
Let chicken and 1 tablespoon butter stand at room temperature for 30 minutes. Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Remove and discard the plastic pop-up timer from chicken if there is one. Remove the giblets and excess fat from the chicken cavity. Rinse chicken inside and out under cold running water. Dry chicken thoroughly with paper towels. Tuck the wing tips under the body. Sprinkle the cavity of the chicken liberally with salt and pepper, and set aside.
In the center of a heavy-duty roasting pan, place onion slices in two rows, touching. Place the palm of your hand on top of lemon and, pressing down, roll lemon back and forth several times. This softens the lemon and allows the juice to flow more freely. Pierce entire surface of lemon with a fork. Using the side of a large knife, gently press on garlic cloves to open slightly. Insert garlic cloves, thyme sprigs, and lemon into cavity. Place chicken in pan, on onion slices. Cut about 18 inches of kitchen twine, bring chicken legs forward, cross them, and tie together.
Spread the softened butter over entire surface of chicken, and sprinkle liberally with salt and pepper. Place in the oven, and roast until skin is deep golden brown and crisp and the juices run clear when pierced, about 1 1/2 hours. When chicken seems done, insert an instant-read thermometer into the breast, then the thigh. The breast temperature should read 180 degrees and the thigh 190 degrees.
Remove chicken from oven, and transfer to a cutting board with a well. Let chicken stand 10 to 15 minutes so the juices settle. Meanwhile, pour the pan drippings into a shallow bowl or fat separator, and leave onions in the pan. Leave any brown baked-on bits in the bottom of the roasting pan, and remove and discard any blackened bits. Using a large spoon or fat separator, skim off and discard as much fat as possible. Pour the remaining drippings and the juices that have collected under the resting chicken back into the roasting pan. Place on the stove over medium-high heat to cook, about 1 minute. Add chicken stock, raise heat to high, and, using a wooden spoon, stir up and combine the brown bits with the stock until the liquid is reduced by half, about 4 minutes. Strain the gravy into a small bowl, pressing on onions to extract any liquid. Discard onions, and stir in the remaining tablespoon of cold butter until melted and incorporated. Untie the legs, and remove and discard garlic, thyme, and lemon. Carve, and serve gravy on the side.
The Perfect Rib Eye Roast
The deliciously tender rib eye roast comes from the beef forequarter, a part of the main muscle of the cow, high on its back. Because this area doesn't get much exercise, the rib eye roast and adjacent cuts are extremely tender and have a great deal of marbling, thus making them the most flavorful and juicy cuts of beef. The cuts that derive from this area are the most sought-after, but also some the most expensive.
This cut of meat is best when roasted, grilled, or seared, so an outer crust forms leaving the inside pink and juicy. A heavy cast-iron skillet is our way of roasting because it also helps to brown the crust, but a good-quality steel pan does the job. If you don't have access to these tools, use a regular roasting pan. Roast this beef rib eye to rare or medium-rare for the very best results. Your cooking time might vary depending on your preferred doneness, so weigh your meat before placing it in the oven. Our straightforward recipe needs four ingredients, and two hours in the oven.
The wait is worth it, as the juicy slices of roast make a filling and mouth-watering dinner. Elegant enough for a celebratory dinner, the roast is so simple to make that it's also great for a weeknight dinner.
⏲️ How long do you cook a roast?
I don't like to give a flat-out time for cooking a roast because so many factors affect the cooking time. Your elevation, your oven (and if it is calibrated correctly or not), how thick your particular piece of meat is, and more.
If we each buy a 2 lb roast, they will vary in length, thickness, and fat. And it is no surprise that a long thin roast takes less time to cook than a thick fat roast.
For cooking "low and slow," a good rule of thumb for bottom round roast cooking time per pound is 2 hours per lb. This rule is more of a guide to help you prepare sides and effectively plan your dinner.
“Roasting slowly is where all the good stuff happens,” says Jim Swenson, who has been executive chef at the National Press Club in Washington for 17 years.
But this is just a guide to help you estimate cook time. It would be best if you were diligent about checking the internal temperature regularly to ensure you don't over-cook your roast. Over-cooked meat of any type will be overly tough and dry. For that reason, I recommend using a good meat thermometer and check often. I usually start checking once I reach the "halfway" point of that rule of thumb time.
Roast beef might sound fancy and complicated to make, but it's actually quite simple! With a good piece of meat and some simple herbs, you can have roast beef that's way more tender and flavourful than the store-bought kind. Below, we break down what's most important to know when preparing this classic dish.
There's no single cut of beef that is necessary to make roast beef. Some common cuts include:
We usually use a top round roast, but a bottom round roast should work too. If you're unsure, ask your butcher! Since the meat is slow roasted for a long amount of time, even tougher, more lean cuts of meat will be tender. Just be aware that if you choose a particularly lean cut of meat, it should be sliced relatively thin to avoid being too chewy.
This is where you can really get creative. We kept things simple in this recipe: just thyme, rosemary, salt, and pepper. Feel free to swap in any of your favourite herbs (sage, parsley, oregano etc.) or use dried if you prefer. Spices like cumin or coriander seeds would be delicious as well, do what feels right to you! Just don't be shy on the flavourings, this is a big cut of meat and the more flavour, the better. We suggest 1 teaspoon salt per pound. Veggies like onions, garlic, and spring onions would be delicious additions as well. I prefer to mix all my flavourings with olive oil to make a paste&mdashit allows for more even distribution and insures your beef gets seasoned all the way around. (Don't forget the bottom!)
You might be wondering why you have to change the temperature of the oven 15 minutes into cooking. I swear, there's a good reason! Ideally, all roasted meats would be seared on all sides in a hot pan to develop a golden, delicious crust. With something like a top round roast, searing can be next to impossible. (AKA it's WAY too big and heavy to move around in a skillet.) Starting with a hot oven gives the roast a chance to get that beautiful crust without bringing out a pan. After you've got a head start on that crust, you can lower the temperature and the meat will start cooking from the inside out.
We like to bring pretty much any meat we're cooking to room temperature&mdashespecially big pieces of meat like turkey breasts, whole chickens, and roasts like this one! Think of it this way: if you put a roast in your oven straight from the fridge, the roast will cook faster on the outside (which is exposed to the heat of your oven) than the centre, which will remain cooler, and cook more slowly. A room-temperature roast will cook more evenly throughout, so we recommend letting yours sit out for 1 to 2 hours to come up to temperature.
As far as post-cooking temperatures, we prefer a medium to medium-rare roast, with a little pink in the centre. In our opinion, the meat stays more tender and flavourful this way. If you prefer not to see any pink, you can roast longer! One thing that's not optional, though, is a meat thermometer. It takes the guess work out of cooking big pieces of meat, and we swear it'll come in handy more than just this once. Pro tip: make sure you're inserting your thermometer far enough to hit the center of the roast for an accurate reading. For a medium-rare roast, aim for an internal temperature of about 54°C. The temperature of the meat will continue to rise a bit as it rests as well.
I know it's tempting to dig right in when your roast comes out of the oven. Resist! Transfer your meat to a cutting board and let it rest for 30 minutes to allow all the juices to redistribute throughout the muscle. If you cut it right away, all those flavourful juices will end up on the cutting board and your meat will be dry and sad. 😢When it's time, make sure to use your sharpest carving knife or chef's knife to get nice thin slices.
Leftover cold roast beef is one of life's greatest pleasures. It's so versatile! Use it in French dip sliders, in a breakfast hash, or just cold, straight from the fridge. We won't judge!
Why not enjoy your Roast Beef with some yummy Roasted Vegetables?
Editor's note: This recipe was last updated on 21 December 2020 to provide more information about the dish.
Perfect Roast Chickens (updated)
Remove the chicken giblets from each of the chickens. Rinse the chickens inside and out and remove any excess fat and pinfeathers. Pat the outsides dry with paper towels. Place the chickens in a large roasting pan. Liberally salt and pepper the cavities of the chickens. Stuff the cavity of each chicken with half of the thyme, half of the lemons, and half of the garlic. Brush the outside of the chickens with the butter and sprinkle them liberally with salt and pepper. Tie the legs together with kitchen string and tuck the wing tips under the body of each chicken. Scatter the onion slices around the chickens, drizzle them with olive oil, toss the onions with your hands, and distribute them around the chickens. (You want the chickens and onions to fit snugly into the pan or the onions will burn.
Roast the chickens for 1¼ to 1½ hours, or until an instant-read thermometer reads 155 to 160 degrees and the juices run clear when you cut between a leg and thigh. Cover with aluminum foil and allow to rest for 15 minutes. Slice the chickens onto a platter and serve immediately with the onions and pan juices.
Copyright 1999, The Barefoot Contessa Cookbook, Clarkson Potter/Publishers, All Rights Reserved/updated
Perfect Roast Beef
Calm down, people. I've only made the most amazing roast beast in the history of my kitchen slash all the other kitchens in my neighborhood and the universe AT LEAST. It's not a big deal.
Except that it is SUCH. a. big. deal.
The roast beef recipe is totally bonkers (but very simple at the same time), so get ready for the weirdness. The method might be mad, but the results are not. The meat comes out perfectly pink and medium-rare throughout, with a nice crust on the outside without having to brown it on the stove first. It takes a not-that-impressive cut of meat and transforms it into the kind of prime, thinly sliced, pink roast beef that I drool over (and pay top dollar for) at Clancy's deli counter.
It needs no condiment, which means something from me as I am always putting sauces and condiments on everything. Maybe the jus, horseradish or chimichurri would be nice on it, sure—but this naked roast is super tasty all by itself.
Okay, I can't even talk about how good this recipe is anymore. I'll just tell you how to make it and we can move on because then you'll understand why I'm geeking out so much about a piece of meat.
How to Prepare Gravy for Roast Beef
- Take the drip pan out of the oven, and place it over medium heat (or add a little beef broth or water/wine to the drippings, stir, and then scrape the result into a small pan).
- If you do not have much in the way of drippings, you can always add a little butter to make up for them.
- Add water, beef broth, red wine, or port to the drippings and deglaze (loosen the drippings and combine into the liquid). I added about 1/8 to 1/4 cup at this point, but my measurements here are not exact. It is all a matter of preference for how much gravy you are making and deciding how thin or thick you want it. This is just to get the base going, but in the end, I think my total liquid use was about 1 cup.
- Remove any pieces of garlic that may have fallen in. I added a little dash of Worcestershire sauce to the mix as well.
- Dissolve about a tablespoon of cornstarch in a small amount of water and add to the drip pan, whisking all the while. You will see it start to thicken almost immediately so add more water, beef broth, red wine, or port to taste.
- Add salt and pepper to taste.
- You can also add herbs to taste such as tarragon, rosemary, thyme, or marjoram if you have not put them on the roast as a rub. They each impart the roast with a different flavor individually, or a combination of all of them is great too.
I served this with roasted red potatoes (skins on) and some baked butternut squash. The roast will serve 4𠄶, but if it is just two of you, you will have plenty left over for lunch meat for sandwiches!
What Cut of Roast Beef Should I Use?
I use “Beef Round Eye Round Roast” from Costco. They sell them with 2 roasts in one package (I freeze them separated). One of these roasts would feed a family of 6 easily, with probably leftovers. $11 is a great price for a roast beef in my opinion. There are more expensive, fattier cuts out there, but I started with this one, and I love how juicy and lean it is. When you slice this roast beef you need to cut it thin. This is not a thick slicing roast beef.