A roast, gorgeously browned, perfectly cooked, is a culinary beauty that signals a celebration.
Yet some cooks suffer from a fear of roasting, a seasonal disorder especially prevalent during the holidays. Maybe they’ve been burned in the past — using the wrong cooking method or not using an instant-read thermometer — and ruined a pricey cut.
Betty Rosbottom has heard lots of sad tales. So the cooking teacher and cookbook author set out to “dispel some of the fear that comes with doing a roast” with “Sunday Roasts: A Year’s Worth of Mouthwatering Roasts” (Chronicle Books, $24.95).
Whether you’re new to the kitchen or a roasting regular, Rosbottom’s recipes and coaching (market tips, a guide to quick-cooking roasts, less pricey cuts, etc.) are designed to help you choose the appropriate roast for a holiday feast or Sunday dinner.
Her mantra? “Get to know your butcher,” Rosbottom says. “I don’t go to a special butcher shop, but I do go to a local market and chain store, and they have a butcher in each of those. Don’t hesitate to push that bell and if you show an interest in what you’re buying and if you’re polite, you will not believe how much extra help you’ll get.”
Such as? Cooking tips. Better deals. “Just question the butcher and ask, ‘Do you like this? Do you think this is good when it’s cooked?’
“Because so many markets have prepackaged meats, we often don’t learn about all the other parts of the animal that we can use. You might see lamb chops, but maybe only at Easter you see a leg of lamb. You never see a standing rib pork roast. You never see the racks. You have to ask for that. But the butchers are willing to do it.”
And be prepared: Use a good, heavy, flameproof roasting pan, she says. “When you finish roasting, if you want to make a pan sauce, that pan can be set on flame and not be a problem.”
Racks Of Pork
Note: In “Sunday Roasts,” Betty Rosbottom serves this dish with apple chutney. You can purchase a ready-made apple chutney at the market, or serve with sauteed fresh apples. Rosbottom suggests you ask the butcher to prepare the racks so they can be sliced into individual chops: “remove feather and chine bones, trim meat between rib bones (french) and leave a thin layer of fat covering exterior of ribs.”
1/2 cup olive oil
4 teaspoons curry powder
2 racks of pork, 3 pounds per rack, 5 ribs each
1 1/2 pounds medium red onions
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
Freshly ground pepper
Whisk together olive oil and curry powder in a small bowl. Brush all pork surfaces with half the oil mixture; reserve remaining oil. Let racks rest at cool room temperature, 1 1/2 hours.
Heat oven to 350 degrees. Peel onions; cut into 1-inch thick wedges, leaving root ends intact. Salt and pepper pork racks on all sides. Put a large, heavy, flameproof roasting pan or tray over one or two burners on medium high heat. When pan is hot, brown 1 pork rack on all sides, beginning with fat side down; 4 to 5 minutes. Remove; repeat with remaining rack.
Put racks in pan, facing each other, fat sides out, bone ends up and intertwined. Scatter onions around pork. Drizzle onions with remaining curry oil; toss lightly. Roast until meat thermometer inserted in center registers 150 degrees and onions are softened and browned, about 1 hour.
Remove pork from pan; arrange on serving platter, bones intertwined. Surround with onions. Cover loosely with foil; let rest 20 minutes. Serve sliced into chops. Sprinkle with some salt, top with apple chutney and garnish with onions.
Yield: 10 servings
Nutrition information per serving: 395 cal, 27 g total fat (7 g saturated), 98 mg chol, 6 g carbo, 30 g pro, 214 mg sodium, 1 g dietary fiber
This chutney is adapted from “Sunday Roasts: A Year’s Worth of Mouthwatering Roasts” (Chronicle Books, $24.95), by Betty Rosbottom. She pairs it with roast racks of pork. It would also be delicious with roasted or pan-fried chicken, or other cuts of pork.
The chutney may be covered and refrigerated up to three days; bring to room temperature to serve.
3 tablespoons olive oil
1 small red onion, chopped
1 teaspoon minced garlic
2 large unpeeled Gala apples, halved, cored, chopped in 1/2-inch dice
1/2 to 2/3 cup light brown sugar
2 teaspoons each: country-style Dijon mustard, minced fresh ginger
3/4 teaspoon ground coriander
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/3 cup cider vinegar
Heat 2 tablespoons olive oil in a saucepan over medium heat. Add onion and garlic; stir until onions soften, 3-4 minutes. Add remaining 1 tablespoon olive oil; stir in apples. Cook, stirring frequently, until apples are translucent and lightly browned, 5-6 minutes. Add brown sugar, mustard, ginger, coriander, cinnamon and a pinch cayenne pepper; stir until sugar starts to melt. Add vinegar. Heat to a simmer; cook stirring frequently until mixture thickens and liquid is syrupy; 10 to 12 minutes. Remove pan from heat; cool chutney to room temperature.
Yield: About 1 1/2 cups
Nutrition information per serving: 52 cal, 2 g total fat (0 g saturated), 0 mg chol, 9 g carbo, 0 g pro, 6 mg sodium, 1 g dietary fiber
Roast Racks Of Lamb With Pistachios
Note: Adapted from “Rotis: Roasts for Every Day of the Week” (Melville House, $29.95), by Stephane Reynaud
2 cloves garlic, chopped
2 shallots, chopped
1 bunch fresh basil
1 bunch chervil
5 1/2 tablespoons butter, chopped
4 slices sandwich bread
1 egg white
Salt and pepper to taste
1 3/4 ounces pistachios
2 racks lamb
1 tablespoon olive oil
Heat oven to 400 degrees. Put garlic and shallots in a bowl; cover with boiling water; set aside to soften. Put basil and chervil leaves in a food processor with butter; pulse until combined. Drain the garlic and shallots; add to mixture along with bread. Process to combine. Add egg white; season with salt and pepper. Blend smooth. Stir in pistachios. Spread mixture on meat side of racks; be sure it sticks.
Put racks, herb side up, in a roasting pan; drizzle with a little olive oil. Roast until meat thermometer inserted in center registers 130-135 degrees, 15-20 minutes. Remove from oven; cover lightly with foil. Let rest 10-15 minutes before serving.