Roasting 101: What it is, What it’s Not, and How to Get it Done

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Most people know that roasting involves the oven, but the more you know about its intricacies, like sauces, equipment, and why it’s not the same as baking, can help you achieve the perfect roast. Keep reading to see why this popular method is one of Chef Gerrie’s Fabulous Five essential cooking methods.

What is Roasting?

Roasting is another dry heat cooking method used to cook either meats or vegetables in the oven. Typically, roasting is done in a convection oven at 375° F or higher.

What is a convection oven? An oven with a fan and exhaust system that blow hot air around the food then vent it back out. Convection ovens can cook food evenly and often more quickly than a fan without a convection system.

Roasting vs. Baking:

Because these two cooking methods use the same equipment — a hot oven — they easily get mixed up under the roasting umbrella, but there are some significant differences…

  • One obvious identifier is the product being cooked. Baking pertains to breads, cakes, and pastry items, while roasting is used to cook meat, poultry, fish, and vegetables. Roasted foods already have a solid structure in the raw state, while baking starts with a liquid, or loose structure that is then baked solid.
  • Another difference is the temperature used. Roasting requires a higher temperature, starting at about 375° F. Baking on the other hand typically occurs below 375° F.
  • A big difference between these two oven-based, dry heat cooking methods, is the way the process begins…

Roasting seeks to achieve a crispy, crunchy crust so roasted foods are typically pre-cooked on the stove. By searing the outside of the product before it’s roasted, the outer layers are heated to a point that the main juices inside the product render a penetrating steam throughout the product more deeply.

Not only does this method result in tender, juicy bites, but because the meat is cooked so thoroughly and consistently cooked, it creates the perfect base for a pan-roast sauce to complement your final dish.

Now that you know the difference between these two seemingly similar cooking methods, you need to have the right equipment…

What You Need to Roast:

Sear the meat until brown in a sauté pan, cast-iron skillet, or large pot depending on your raw product. Then pop your seared meat on a wire rack inside a roasting pan before placing in the oven.

The purpose of roasting is to create a crisp crust which seals in its own juices, flavors, and succulent mouth feel. Thus, when roasting, you leave your product uncovered. If you were to cover it, you’d create steam and the moisture would stew or braise the product rather than roast.

A good roasting pan is heavy duty and has a level, strong bottom, low sides, and holds a perfectly sized wire rack to fit the length and width of the pan.  

The wire rack lets the meat to drip fat and drain protein into the bottom of the roasting pan. Throughout roasting you should use these drippings to baste the meat and keep it moist. After the meat is roasted you can use the drippings to create a perfect pan-based sauce to complement your meat.

>> 4 Steps to Your Sauté Pan Sauce

Chef Gerrie’s Roasting Tips:

  • Use a digital thermometer to determine doneness in roasted foods. Digital thermometers are faster and more accurate than analog. The doneness temperature of your product will depend on the type of meat, size, and any additional cooking that may come after roasting.
  • For an exceptional pan-based sauce that will pair well with your finished product, make a roux with the drippings by adding flour to the fat and then stirring in stock to create a sauce. Go the extra mile to make your sauce super creamy by straining it through a cheesecloth lined chinois, or fine strainer. With that said, these extra steps are not necessary.
  • Always sear large pieces of meat to ensure the heavier product will be cooked throughout. Smaller pieces, or smaller products, can be quickly browned, or roasted without precooking if you don’t desire a crusty outer layer.
  • Vegetables can be roasted whole, chopped, quartered, or halved. For thick skinned or root vegetables you can either roast with the skin peeled or left on depending on your taste. Roasting vegetables produces a brown exterior with a deep intensity of flavor inside.
  • Enhance the flavor profile of roasted vegetables by cutting and peeling them raw, then using a marinade to act as a protective shield to their flavors.

Let’s Chat!

What’s your favorite roast food? What’s your method? Let’s swap stories in the comments section below or on my Facebook page, Chef Gerrie.

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