Archive | December 16th, 2009

Tips for a Great Roast

Tips for a Great Roast

English roast meat by fire with flamesA truism about cooking the main meat for a holiday dinner is that roasts are easy.

They are easy in the sense that you set the oven at the correct temperature, season the roast (or turkey or goose),  then put it into the oven and forget about it for a couple of hours while you do other things.

Roasts only cause problems if the cook hasn’t thought through the preparation. Here are a few pointers:

  • It would be very good if you had a meat thermometer and know exactly what your target temperature is.
  • Remember that when you take the roast out over the oven it will continue to cook as it slowly loses heat. So, if you want a pork roast at, say, 165 degrees, take it out at 160, or a little lower.
  • When you take the roast out of the oven, it would be excellent if you’ve thought ahead and have a good, big open space on the stove or counter top on which to put the hot pan.
  • If you have overcooked the roast, there’s no going back, so try to err on the side of undercooking — at least you can cut into the meat and see if it’s done, and put it back in the oven if it is not. But, if you have a trusty thermometer and use it correctly, you shouldn’t have this problem.
  • Give the meat a chance to “rest” after the roasting, at least 15 minutes, before cutting. If you don’t, the meat juices don’t have a chance to reabsorb into the roast. That means the meat won’t be as uniformly juicy as it might have been.
  • Be sure you have a sharp knife to carve the roast, preferably on a cutting board with a groove around the edges to catch juices. You don’t want these running onto the floor; you do want these in your gravy.

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Jalapeño, Cornbread and Sausage Stuffing

Jalapeño, Cornbread and Sausage Stuffing

CornbreadStuffingThis stuffing was adapted from Women’s Day. I added minced jalapeños and chopped pecans to add a bit of local flavor.  If you purchase an already-made cornbread, or use boxed cornbread mix, remember that it might be sweet — unsweetened cornbread would be better in this savory dressing.

Jalapeño, Cornbread and Sausage Stuffing

1 box cornbread mix, prepared,  or your own recipe for cornbread that makes a 9-by-9-inch pan
1 cup herbed dry bread stuffing mix or 4 slices stale or dried white or wheat bread, cut into ½-inch dice
¾ pound country sausage
1-2 large jalapeños, seeded and chopped fine
2 cups sliced celery
1 large onion, diced
2 teaspoons dried sage
2 large twigs of fresh thyme, just the leaves or 2 teaspoons dried thyme leaves
¼ cup freshly chopped parsley
1 cup pecan pieces, lightly toasted in skillet until fragrant
6 tablespoons butter, melted
16 ounces chicken broth (half of a carton of broth, or 2 cups)
3 large eggs, beaten
Kosher salt, to taste
Pepper, to taste

Heat oven to 350 degrees. Have ready a 1 ½ quart baking dish, lightly buttered. (If using to stuff a turkey or crown roast of pork, see note below.)

Cut cornbread (slightly dried, either in the oven or left out overnight) in medium dice (about ¾ inch) and put into a very large bowl. Add the dry bread mix. Cook the sausage, crumbling it in the skillet, along with the minced jalapeño, until sausage is just cooked through. Add this mixture to the bread in the bowl.

Add a little cooking oil or oil spray to the pan you just used and sauté the celery and onion for a few minutes, until the onion is tender. Add this mixture to the bowl. Add the sage, thyme, parsley and pecan pieces to the bowl. Very gently, with your hands, mix the ingredients. Pour over the melted butter and the broth, then add the three large beaten eggs. Add salt and pepper, to taste. (I would add at least one generous tablespoon of kosher salt. Now, mix again, gently but thoroughly. (I like to keep some of the cornbread in cubes, as the dressing looks nicer, though much of it disintegrates when you put in the liquid ingredients.)

Scrape into the baking dish and cover with aluminum foil. Bake about 30 minutes. Take the foil off and bake another 10 minutes, or until the top is lightly browned.

Note: If you are using this stuffing in a Crown Roast of Pork, put as much of it as you can into the center of the roast, mounding it up slightly. The dressing supports the racks and helps the roast stay round. Cover the stuffing with a piece of foil as you cook the roast. Take it off about 15 minutes before the roast is done so that it will brown. Put any additional stuffing into a baking pan and cook it separately.

Makes about 10 servings.

Adapted from Women’s Day/Bonnie Walker

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Tyler Florence’s Pork Loin Seasoning Rub

Tyler Florence’s Pork Loin Seasoning Rub

CrownRoastCloseupThis rub is from celebrity chef Tyler Florence. I adapted it somewhat by adding dried thyme and sage to the fresh, as I had little fresh sage on hand. Also it’s hard to know what he means by a “bunch” of sage or thyme. I think that by a “bunch” he means the amount you get in a fresh herb packet in the produce section.

Pork Loin Seasoning Rub

1/2 bunch thyme, leaves only
1/2 bunch fresh sage, leaves only
1 teaspoon dried ground thyme
1 teaspoon rubbed dry sage
2 fat cloves garlic, mashed and minced
1/2 – 3/4  cup olive oil
Salt, to taste
Pepper, to taste

In a mortar and pestle or electric mini-chopped, combine all of the ingredients. If doing this by hand, grind the garlic up with herbs, salt and pepper and olive oil.  Rub this mixture on the outside of the pork loin and up toward the ribs before putting the roast in the oven.

Makes enough rub for one 8-10-pound roast.

From Tyler Florence

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Crown Roast of Pork Simply Impressive

Crown Roast of Pork Simply Impressive


We prepared a crown roast for a SavorSA get-together recently. I’d never made one, though I’d thought about doing it for years. It turned out well and wasn’t difficult to make, especially as good meat markets and butchers will either have the crown roasts on hand or prepare them (by shaping and tying the roast) for you.

CrownRoast1What the butcher does is take a couple of lengths of bone-in pork loin, trims it of some fat. Then, the rib ends of the chops are frenched, or closely trimmed to expose several inches of the ribs.  The butcher also cuts little notches between ribs to make the strip of ribs bend more easily. Also, these can be guides as to where to carve.  Then, the butcher stands the ribs up on the meaty ends and ties the roast (securely, you hope) into a circle.

Your part is easy. Take the roast home, season it, put stuffing in the center and put it in the oven. And, of course, take it out at the right time!  I bought an 8-pound roast with 12 chops in it, and it fed seven of us generously, plus there were leftovers.

Here are the steps. (Also, click here for general tips on making a good roast of any kind.)

  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
  2. CrownRoast2Unwrap roast and set it in a large roasting pan. Season it with salt and pepper (or try Tyler Florence’s Pork Loin Seasoning Rub). Let loin sit awhile to bring it to room temperature, or close.
  3. Stuff the center with Jalapeño, Cornbread and Sausage Stuffing. This will give you a good-looking presentation, juicy stuffing and helps push the roast into a round shape. (Some recipes say to add stuffing an hour and a half or so into the baking, but I put it in right away and was pleased with the results.)
  4. Top the stuffing and the ends of the ribs that stick up in the air with foil. About 15 minutes before the roast is done, take the foil off the stuffing so that the stuffing browns.
  5. CrownRoast4Put the roast in the oven; you might have to lower the rack to accommodate its height. Put the meat thermometer into the thick part of the meat. You want it to read at 155 or 160 degrees, depending on how done you want the pork. The 8 pound roast I made took about 2 hours and 20 minutes to roast. I took it out at about 156 degrees and let it sit for about 20 minutes. It was cooked through, maybe with just a hint of pink. You can take the foil off the rib ends now.
  6. Parade the roast around the house so that everyone sees its beauty. (Or, invite them into the kitchen.)
  7. CrownRoast6We let the roast sit 20-30 minutes to redistribute the juices. If you want to make gravy, take the roast out of the pan and put it on a large plate in a warm place to rest. Then, proceed with making gravy.
  8. Take the stuffing out of the roast and put it in the center of a large, preferably warm, serving platter
  9. Cut the strings off of the roast with a kitchen scissors.
  10. With a sharp carving knife (I used my French knife, which worked fine) slice off as many chops as you have guests (these will be big chops). Arrange them, ribs toward the center and pointing up, as much as possible, over the stuffing. Put a serving fork and spoon on the platter so guests can lift off a chop and spoon out some stuffing.
  11. CrownRoast7Hint: If you want to further enhance the presentation, either on the roast or the chop plate, make little bunches of parsley and put tiny grape tomatoes on them: It’s Christmas-y and pretty.
  12. What about those paper booties that we see on crown roasts or racks of lamb? I discussed this with someone who, as do I, considers these things. We agreed that they might be a little passé. If you want them, you can find them in a well-stocked supermarket (ask the butcher, too). Or, make some yourself out of pretty gold foil Christmas gift-wrap – passé maybe, but fun!

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