Roasting meat

Tips for roasting meat to perfection, chicken, turkey, lamb, pork, or beef.

Oven roasting is suitable for reasonably tender pieces of meat or poultry. Slow roasting is usually the preferred method, as it ensures the joint is well browned outside, moist and tender inside. Only the really tender cuts can be browned, seared or roasted at high temperature, a method that produces the best flavor, but makes the meat tougher and dryer.

Rub salt into pork skin before roasting to get a crispy crackling.

Season the meat to your taste. Salt is better added afterwards, as it makes moisture to get out of the meat. If a recipe calls for salt and pepper added before roasting, rub them on the fat, rind and skin, never on the cut surface.

Best practices are preheating the oven and letting the meat to come to room temperature before cooking. These promote uniform cooking at the center without over browning. An exception: roasting a frozen piece of meat. If you must, place the meat from the beginning and choose a slow oven. Even so, the total roasting time from the moment the oven reaches the temperature will have to be adjusted; it will need to cook for longer.

A meat thermometer is the best way to attain a perfect degree of doneness, no undercooking, no overcooking. Insert the thermometer in the thicker part of muscle; the bulb should not touch fat or bone.

Beef may be served underdone. Make sure that veal and pork are cooked thoroughly. Some recipes ask to serve lamb or mutton slightly undercooked; we prefer to cook thoroughly lamb and mutton also.

Choose meats with a layer of fat. If the meat is very lean, rub with lard, butter, dripping, good cooking oil, or bard with rashers of streaky bacon, so it would not dry out. Rub the cut surface just with cooking oil.

Place the meat on a rack, fat side up, inside of a roasting tin. The grid holds the meat out of the drippings and prevents burning at the bottom. If the fat is at the top, the roast will be self basting.

Oven temperature and recommended time for meat

Beef – roast bone-in ribs, boneless ribs, round tip, round top, sirloin or rolled rump at 325˚ F (160˚ C – gas mark 3), rib eye or round at 350˚ F (180˚ C – gas mark 4) and tenderloin at 400˚ F (200˚ C – gas mark 6). Estimate 20-25 minutes per 1 lb plus 20-25 minutes. Using a meat thermometer, it should read 140˚ F (60˚ C) for rare beef; 160˚ F (70˚ C) for medium beef; 180˚ F (80˚ C) for well done beef.

Veal - roast at 325˚ F (160˚ C – gas mark 3) to an internal temperature of 175˚ F (about 80˚ C). It should take about 35 minutes per 1 lb + 35 minutes. Juices should run clear.

Venison - roast at 375°F for 30 minutes per pound + 30 minutes. For a juicier roast, cover in a flour and water paste and cook at 450°F for 10-15 minutes then reduce to 375°F and cook for the rest of the estimated time.

Pork - roast at 325˚ F (160˚ C – gas mark 3) to an internal temperature of 175˚ F (about 80˚ C). It should take about 35 minutes per 1 lb + 35 minutes. Juices should run clear. Pork can be kept moist by searing the outside briefly on the stove top, cooking time then should be reduced slightly.

Ham, Bacon, Gammon – roast at 325˚ F (160˚ C – gas mark 3) until an internal thermometer reaches 140˚ F (60˚ C), 20 minutes per 1 lb + 20 minutes. Most ham, bacon or gammon is pre-cooked.

Lamb – estimate 25-30 minutes per 1 lb plus 25-30 minutes. Using a meat thermometer, it should read 180˚ F (80˚ C) for a meat well done.

Poultry – choose a young bird (look for a pliable breast bone) and roast chicken at 375˚ F (180˚ C - gas mark 4), turkey at 325˚ F (160˚C – gas mark 3) to an internal temperature of 180˚ F (80˚ C) in the thigh or 160˚ F (70˚ C) in the stuffing. Juices should run clear. Estimate 25 minutes per 1 lb + 25 minutes.

Game birds - cook at 450°F for 10 minutes and reduce to 400°F for the remainder time. Estimate 40 minutes for a young pheasant and 50-60 minutes for an older one. Baste frequently.