How to Cook: Roasting
By Nutritional Weight & Wellness Staff
January 15, 2018
Picture this: you open the refrigerator and stare blankly, desperate for any idea how you are going to get dinner on the table tonight. The choices are slim, and none of them appeal to you. Or maybe you look at the whole chicken you bought and wonder if it will get the best of you, like it did the last time when you accidentally overcooked it.
Not to worry, we have you covered! Our new “How to Cook” series is packed with the tips you wished you had learned years ago and simple techniques that will transform your dinner into one that will have your whole family asking for seconds. Learn how our busy nutritionists get a tasty meal on the table without a lot of work. Before you know it, you will be roasting, sautéing, stir-frying and using a slow cooker, with confidence and ease. Sure, it takes practice, but the “How to Cook” series takes the guess work out of cooking methods you can use night after night. Let’s start with roasting and a timeless favorite, a delicious roast chicken.
Roasting refers to cooking in a dry-heat environment, most commonly the oven, but it can be done on a grill, too. You might also think of baking when you think of roasting. Baking typically refers to breads and desserts, but the terms can be interchangeable. This type of cooking tends to retain the most vitamins and minerals, and brings out the flavor in meats and vegetables.
If you are new to roasting meat, chicken is a great way to start. Have you ever roasted a chicken? Let us teach you how.
Roasting a whole chicken is a flavorful and cost-effective way to cook dinner. Try cooking two chickens if you have the room, and either use the leftovers during the week or freeze them for later.
1 (4-5 pound) whole chicken, neck and giblets removed (save them to make your own broth)
4 Tbsp butter at room temperature
1-2 Tbsp dried herbs blend such as Italian seasoning, herbs de provence, or poultry blend
½ tsp salt
¼ tsp ground black pepper
- Preheat the oven to 425°F.
- Using your fingers, mix the butter, herbs, salt, and pepper together.
- Pat chicken dry. Using your fingers, separate the skin from the meat, creating a space between them on the breast and near the thighs. Spread the butter under the skin, and all over the bird. Feel free to season the outside and inside of the cavity with extra salt and pepper.
- Tie the legs together with kitchen twine (NOT YARN) to help the chicken keep its shape and cook more evenly.
- Place on a rack in a roasting pan or in a 9X13” baking dish, breast side up.
- Roast 25 to 30 minutes. Remove from the oven and baste with juices in the pan.
Return to oven, reduce the oven temperature to 375°F and roast another 30 to 40 minutes, basting once or twice, until juices run clear when a knife is pierced into a thigh or a meat thermometer in the breast reaches 165°F.
- Cover with foil and let rest 30-45 minutes before carving. This allows the juices to cool inside and keep the meat moist. We promise the meat will still be hot when you serve it.
While the chicken rests, pop your chosen vegetables into the oven. You can even use some of the cooking juices from the chicken to roast them.
Roast Pork Tenderloin
Need dinner on the table in under 45 minutes? Try this roast pork tenderloin (smaller than a pork loin). Serve it with steamed vegetables and butter or a side salad for a fast weeknight dinner. Serves 3-5.
1 (1-1.5 pound) pork tenderloin
1 tsp sea salt
½ tsp ground black pepper
1-2 Tbsp spices or herbs-optional (Chinese 5 Spice, Garam Masala, chili powder)
2-3 Tbsp butter, lard, ghee, coconut oil
- Preheat oven to 400°F
- Place a large skillet or rimmed sheet pan in the oven with the butter, lard, coconut oil or ghee.
- Season the tenderloin with salt and pepper and any chosen spices/herbs.
- Remove the skillet from the oven and swirl the fat around. Place the tenderloin in it. If the meat is too long, just bend the ends to make them fit.
- Place the skillet back in the oven and roast for 10 minutes, flip the meat and continue roasting another 10 minutes, or until the internal temperature is 140-145°F. At this temperature your meat will still be a bit pink, but it won’t be dry; and it’s perfectly safe.
- Remove from the oven and let rest 5-10 minutes.
Slice and serve.
Roasting vegetables helps concentrate their flavors and makes them taste incredible. The keys to perfectly-roasted vegetables are using enough fat and cooking at an appropriate temperature for the vegetables you have chosen. Since roasting is a form of indirect heat, you can actually cook at a higher temperature compared to direct heat sources such as sautéing. Cooking at a temperature above a fat’s specific smoke point (when it starts to burn) is very damaging to that fat. Even though olive oil smokes somewhere between 350-375°F, it will not start to smoke in an oven until about 400°F. If you plan on roasting vegetables at a temperature above 375°F, we recommend using a solid fat such as butter, coconut oil, organic lard, or ghee because these solid fats resist burning the best.
Cooking times will vary even when using the same vegetable, depending on how small you slice and dice them. Also, if you like your roast vegetables to have some crunch, cook for the shortest time; if you like softer vegetables, keep them in the oven longer.
Want to try roasting veggies tonight? Simply turn your oven to 375°F. Toss one pound of fresh green beans with 2-3 Tbsp olive oil and place in a single layer on a rimmed baking sheet. Season with salt and pepper. Roast for 10 minutes, stir, and then continue roasting for another 10-15 minutes or longer depending upon your taste preference.
Use the same technique and these recommendations to expand your roasting repertoire.
Asparagus, green beans: 375-400°F, in olive oil or butter for 15-30 minutes
Zucchini, eggplant, tomatoes: 375-400°F, in olive oil or butter for 20-40 minutes
Winter squash cut in half, seeds removed: 350°F, coat with olive oil, cook cut side up for 60-90 minutes until tender, scoop out the flesh and season with salt, pepper, and a sprinkling of dried sage.
Sweet potato, white potato, cubed winter squash: 375-425°F, in butter, olive oil, or coconut oil for 20-40 minutes.
Cauliflower, broccoli, Brussels sprouts: 425°F, in bacon grease, lard, ghee for 30-45 minutes
Carrots, beets, parsnips, rutabaga, turnips: 425°F, in coconut oil, lard, ghee for 25-45 minutes
For something really tasty, try roasting vegetables in bacon grease.
- Preheat your oven 425°F.
- Put 2-4 Tbsp of bacon grease or 2-4 slices of bacon on a baking sheet or in a 9X13” baking dish. Place baking sheet in the oven while it pre-heats to melt the fat.
- Once the fat is melted, toss it with 1 pound of chopped broccoli or Brussels sprouts, cut in half. Season with salt and pepper.
- Roast for 15 minutes, stir, continue roasting another 15-20 minutes.
If you’re new to cooking or don’t feel like you have great skills in the kitchen, roasting meat or veggies is super easy, and almost fail proof. In the words of Julia Child, “you must have the courage of your convictions!” For even more delicious recipes that use the roasting technique, click on the links below.
Look for more “How to Cook” articles coming out in the next several months. Next up, sautéing.