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Tips for a Great Roast

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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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