Ramp Up Your Roasted Foods
With pumpkin spice lattes and fresh apple pies comes another fall favorite: roasted veggies and meats. Harking to memories of juicy morsels with a crisp, sweet shell, roasting is a fan favorite for many Americans. If you haven’t already invested in a roaster, now is the perfect time to add this essential to your kitchen lineup.
The term ‘roasting’ refers to a method of cooking wherein dry heat is used - either by open flame, oven, or other heat source. Similar to baking, roasting is done with a higher temperature heat. During the roasting process, heat circulates around all sides of the item, allowing for even cooking. Small batch items (such as fresh mixed vegetables) can be roasted in a single or double roasting pan or oven, while larger quantities (such as meats) can be roasted in a large oven with rotating racks. While roasting is a more time-intensive method to cooking, the results are generally more flavorful (due to caramelization and browning) and with fewer calories (since less butter and oils are used) and with less nutrients leached out of the item.
Choosing the right roasting method is largely dependent on both the item you’re roasting as well as the end product desired. In all instances, the main goal is to retain moisture! The size and type of meat will determine the roasting method. For vegetables, there are many that do extremely well with roasting. Brussel sprouts, asparagus, potatoes, squash, peppers, and onions are good items to start with if you’re just starting to delve into the method of roasting. The juices retained from meat items can also be used for gravies and additional fatty flavorings. Get creative!
When working with your roaster, here are some essential tools to add to your lineup.
Meat Thermometer: One of the trickier parts of roasting meats is knowing when enough is enough, and you can’t truly know unless you measure the internal temperature with a meat thermometer. Every roaster is a little different, so it’s recommended that until you get the hang of things, check the temperature of your product just before the cooking time is up.
Baking Sheets and Roasting Pans: Roasting pans are essential to creating a juicy roast because of their 2 ½ inch sides, but baking pans are also recommended. While these may seem opposite to the deep roasting pans you’re accustomed to, shallow, heavy-duty baking sheets are perfect for capturing juice runoff while allowing air to circulate through the roaster.
Skillet: Low to moderate roasting heat produces a succulent, juicy roast, but the downside is that you may lose some of the browning that gives roast that crispy shell. The solution is to sear the roast in a cast-iron skillet before you place it in the roaster.
Carving Board: Roasts work great for carving stations, but they also expel a lot of juice. Be sure to allow your roast to set after you pull it from the roaster to keep juices from gushing. You’ll still have some drainage, so invest in a carving board with a channel that runs around the perimeter to catch any juice that may try to make its way to the floor or countertop.
Roasting Rack: Obviously you won’t be using a rack to lift veggies, but roasting racks can come in handy for large pieces of meat. It allows for air to circulate completely around the product, and it prevents poultry skin from sticking to the pan.
Serrated Cutlery: An obvious essential, serrated cutlery is the key to getting the perfect slice off of your roast every time. Also consider a motorized slicer after you’ve roasted meats, as the slices make great sandwiches.
Adding a single roasting piece of equipment such as a rotisserie or roasting pan can add endless options of differently-cooked items from the norm - and can help your restaurant stand out from the over 616,000 restaurants in America!