Holiday Roasts 101
Nothing ties a holiday meal together like a big, juicy, tender roast, but which to choose? Out of all the famous holiday roasts out there, there is no wrong answer, but this how-to will help you pick which is right for your needs and tastes!
Done with lamb, veal or pork, this elegant roast is 2 rib racks bent into a circle and tied together with kitchen twine. While its namesake is due to its resemblance to a crown, its tastiness is also fit for royalty. Before being roasted, the center can be filled with your choice of stuffing, be it bread or vegetable based.
Try This! Garlic Herb Crown Roast Of Pork
Rib Roast – Bone-In or Boneless
Standing rib roasts, prime rib, roast beef – there are many names for this celebrated holiday cut. Tender and perfectly marbled throughout, there must be 3-7 ribs to qualify as a roast. Rib roasts can be done bone-in or bone-out, with the rib eye roasts being the most tender and the bone-in standing rib roast being the most flavorful.
Try This: Pistachio Crusted Beef Rib Roast
Whole Beef Tenderloin
The short loin is not weight-bearing muscle, meaning it holds little-to-no connective tissue. This makes it the most tender cut on the cow! Filet mignon, chateaubriand and tournedos are all cut from this region, a testament to them being the most desirable cuts.
When preparing a whole beef tenderloin, it is best to give it a quick sear on all sides before finishing off in the oven low and slow.
Try This: Beef Tenderloin With Horseradish Sauce
Whole Pork Tenderloin
Much smaller and leaner than a beef tenderloin, pork tenderloin is ready quickly and is delicious in a variety of marinades. Simply give your pork tenderloin a sear on all sides before you complete cooking in the oven. This helps to develop flavor and a delicious caramelization on the outside.
For a 1 – 1.25 lb. piece of pork tenderloin, cook for no more than 10-15 minutes in a 450º F oven. The internal temperature will reach 140º F when done.
Try This: Balsamic Pork Tenderloin
To many households, no holiday feast is complete without a ham! When choosing ham, it is best to check the label to see if it is fresh, which requires cooking, or cured ham, which can come ready-to-eat or also require cooking. Fresh hams are not common, but they would be prepared much like a pork loin roast. Cured hams come in two categories, city and country. City hams are brined and sold fully cooked, while country hams are cured with a dry rub, hung to try, and sold to be cooked. Hams are very fun to dress up with different sauces and glazes, especially sweet ones like brown sugar, honey, pineapple and bourbon cider.
Try This: Honey Glazed Ham
Center Cut French Style Pork Roast
Like a leaner beef rib roast, pork loin roasts are identifiable and delicious. Different from the pork tenderloin, pork loins are wider and thicker. While delicious, they are less tender than the pork tenderloin, they can be seasoned similarly to and feed as many people as a beef rib roast.
Rack Of Lamb
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This elegant holiday centerpiece is just as beautiful as it is delicious. After marinating in a spice rub overnight for ultimate flavor penetration, your rack of lamb will need a little over an hour in the oven to yield moist, tender and tasty meat for your guests. For perfectly medium rare take out at 135°F and let rest, covered, for 15 minutes.
Try This: Herb Crusted Rack Of Lamb
Leg Of Lamb
As one of the leanest cuts of lamb, leg of lamb yields a tender, flavorful meat when cooked correctly. Bone-in has more flavor, while boneless is easier to carve, but the key to either is coating it with your favorite combination of herbs and spices. Because it is naturally tender, it does not need to marinate. For medium-rare, the inside temperature should reach 130º-135º F. Don’t forget to let it rest for 20 minutes after roasting!
Try This: Garlic & Herb Boneless Leg Of Lamb
Whole Turkey or Chicken
Whether you like it Thanksgiving-style or loaded up with a creative combination of exotic seasonings (Cajun, lemon pepper & brown sugar balsamic to name a few), whole roasted turkey or chicken is always a hit for the holidays!
Try This: Maple Glazed Spatchcock Turkey
How much do you need?
If your roast is the main feature of your meal with a few side dishes, 8 ounces per person should do. From there, we suggest buying an extra half / full pound to be safe if you can handle having some leftovers.
Talk With Your Butcher
For a picture perfect roast or a special occasion, a conversation with your butcher can go a long way. You can confirm you are getting enough for the size of your dinner party, have them cut and tie your roast for easier cooking and get any additional tips or tricks you may not have considered.
Go for a quick dry brine with salt and pepper the night before roasting. By doing this the night before the seasoning has enough time to permeate the exterior to flavor beyond the crust. Simply rub the exterior of your roast down liberally with kosher salt, pepper and whatever other spices you like. Once coated, set your roast on a sheet tray or roasting pan, uncovered, in the fridge. Do this at least one day before, up to four days ahead.
Before You Even Pre-Heat The Oven…
If you were to take your meat directly from the fridge and into the oven it will 1.) take longer to cook and 2.) roast unevenly. To avoid this, take your meat out of the fridge and let it sit at room temperature for 1 to 2 hours before you roast.
“High to Low” VS “Low to High”
Most roasting techniques go with the High to Low technique. This requires starting at a high temperature to brown the outside and develop your flavored crust before finishing at a lower temperature. More recently however “reverse searing” has made its place in the world of roasting. You start instead at a low oven until just about done, only then do you crank up the heat. This keeps the inside of the roast a beautiful pink throughout until it meets a savory, deeply browned crust.
Low to high is worth a try for large cuts of meat – standing rib roast or beef tenderloins included – because these cook more evenly at low temperatures. Another added benefit? Searing the already-cooked meat takes less time than searing raw meat, just one way to avoid any gray, overcooked rings when it comes time to carve your roast.
More Juiciness, More Tenderness, More Crispy-ness = Low to High
To try the reverse sear, start roasting, covered with tinfoil, in a very low-temperature oven – 200 – 275ºF. When the internal temperature of your roast reads 125º F, remove it from the oven. Let it rest while you crank the oven up to its maximum temperature. Once reaches, set the roast back inside for just a few minutes (10 minutes at most!) to crisp up the exterior.
Tried And True = High to Low
Get a good sear on your meat by starting at a high temperature – around 450º F. Once the meat starts to brown, reduce the temp to 300-325º F. From there on you will be monitoring for the “take out temperature” (chart below!).
Golden Rules Of Roasting
Pat it dry before seasoning and again before roasting to prevent moisture from interfering with your crust.
Bring it close to room temp. The closer the meat is to room temperature the more evenly it will cook.
Use a thermometer. It’s the only way to get an accurate read on how done your meat is.
Let it rest. When it is roasting, all the juices are driven to the center. Resting your meat allows these juices to redistribute evenly throughout your roast ensuring juicy meat for all. A rule of thumb for resting time is ⅓ of the time it was in the oven. (We suggest at least 30 minutes.)
Slice against the grain with a very sharp knife. This keeps all the juices inside and tenderness intact.
Good To Know:
- Tenderloin cooks faster than other roasts.
- Bones regulate temperature. This increases the amount of tender, medium-rare meat.
- The more marble the better. The white, spiderweb-like pattern within your meat is intramuscular fat that provides richness and tenderness to your meat.
- Prop it up on a roasting tray. Even air circulation will help with even roasting.
December 7, 2019