A standing beef rib roast, perfectly seasoned, crusty on the outside and juicy on the inside. Beef tenderloin, cooked so wonderfully it melts in your mouth. A crowning glory of roasted pork, succulent and tender to the bone.
At least that’s how they are supposed to turn out.
Roasts bring grandeur and elegance to the table, not to mention giving the cook the opportunity to whip up a show-stopping centerpiece. But they also pose challenges.
If you’re one of those cooks who have shelled out big bucks for a pricey roast, you may be wondering: What is the best way to roast a roast?
It can be one of the scariest, most intimidating of kitchen tasks. You’ve spent a lot of money, and you want everything to be spectacular.
“I tried once to cook a prime rib and was completely devastated,” Geri B. of Canton, Mich., said in an email to the Free Press Test Kitchen. Her recipe said to sear it at 500 degrees, reduce the heat to 325 degrees and cook it for 30 minutes per pound. “It was lousy,” she said.
The Free Press gets lots of calls and emails at this of year from frantic cooks staring at big hunks of meat.
To guide you, we’ve pulled together advice from tested recipes and local meat cutters. The result should be perfectly pleasing roasts that will impress your guests.
Standing Beef Rib Roast with Garlic Peppercorn Crust
Serves 8-10 / Preparation time: 20 minutes / Total time: 3 hours
Ask for a butcher’s cut when buying a standing rib roast. The rib bones are sliced from the meat, the fat is trimmed and then the bones are tied back on. This provides flavor and the roast is easier to carve.
4 medium cloves garlic, coarsely chopped
1 tablespoon kosher salt
1 tablespoon coarsely ground mixed or black peppercorns
1 teaspoon dried thyme
2 teaspoons sweet paprika
2 teaspoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 butcher’s cut standing beef roast, about 5-7 pounds
For the gravy: 1.5 ounces packaged demi-glace
2¼ cups water, divided
¼-½ teaspoon kosher salt
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
½ cup dry red wine
In a mortar and using a pestle, crush garlic and kosher salt together to form a paste. (Alternately, crush together in a bowl with the bottom of a wooden spoon or use a small food processor.) Add pepper, thyme, paprika and olive oil, mixing to form a paste. Rub the paste all over the roast, coating it well. Cover loosely with aluminum foil and let stand at room temperature 45 minutes.
Preheat oven to 450 degrees 30 minutes before putting roast in oven. Place roast, bone side down, in a large roasting pan and roast 30 minutes. Reduce oven temperature to 325 degrees and continue roasting about 1 hour, 20 minutes, or until internal temperature reaches 135 degrees for medium-rare. (The temperature will rise about 5 degrees during the standing time.)
While the roast is cooking, prepare the gravy base. Combine the demi-glace, 2 cups water and salt in a medium saucepan. Bring to a boil, stirring to dissolve the demi-glace. Reduce heat and simmer 5 minutes. Whisk flour and remaining ¼ cup cold water together. Whisk into the simmering liquid and continue cooking at a simmer 4 minutes. Remove from the heat and set aside.
When roast is done, transfer to a carving board and tent loosely with aluminum foil. Let rest 20 minutes before carving. Pour fat out of roasting pan and place pan over two burners on medium heat. When hot, deglaze pan with wine, stirring to dissolve any caramelized juices; simmer 3 minutes. Pour gravy into pan and simmer a couple of minutes, stirring often, to blend the flavors. Transfer to a warmed gravy bowl and serve with the beef.
From “Williams-Sonoma Christmas Entertaining” (Free Press, $24.95). Tested by the Seattle Times. Nutrition information not available.
Serves 8 / Preparation time: 20 minutes / Total time: 1 hour (plus standing and marinating time)
Have the butcher trim the tenderloin for you. Cut the tenderloin so you have one even center cut. Roast the tapered end separately and for less time than the center cut.
1 whole beef tenderloin (about 5 pounds), trimmed
⅓ cup balsamic vinegar
⅓ cup olive oil, plus 2 tablespoons, divided
2 cloves crushed garlic
3 tablespoons reduced-sodium soy sauce
¼ teaspoon dried crushed rosemary leaves
For the sauce: 1 cup reduced-sodium beef broth
⅓ cup balsamic vinegar
2 tablespoons of butter
You will need an ovenproof skillet large enough to hold the whole tenderloin, or you can cut it in half or use a heavy-duty roasting pan that will fit over two burners and can take direct high heat.
Trim the beef tenderloin of any fat. Place the tenderloin in a sealable plastic bag. In a glass measure, whisk together the vinegar, ⅓ cup olive oil, garlic, soy sauce and rosemary. Pour the marinade over the beef and seal the bag. Marinate at least 1 hour and up to 3 hours.
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.
Heat the 2 tablespoons of olive oil in a large, ovenproof skillet over high heat. Add the marinated tenderloin, discarding marinade, and sear about 3 minutes on all sides until browned and crusty. Transfer the skillet to the oven and roast about 20 minutes or until desired degree of doneness. (If the skillet or pan becomes too dry, add a little beef broth or water.) For medium-rare, the internal temperature should register about 120-125 on an instant-read thermometer.
Remove the roast from the oven and transfer to a platter. Tent with foil and let it rest 10 to 20 minutes before slicing.
For the sauce: In the skillet the tenderloin was roasted in, add the beef broth. Heat over high heat, scraping up any browned bits on the bottom of the skillet. Whisk in the balsamic vinegar and continue heating. Whisk in the butter until the sauce thickens slightly.
Slice the tenderloin and serve drizzled with sauce.
From and tested by Susan M. Selasky for the Free Press Test Kitchen.
Per serving: 499 calories (53 percent from fat), 30 grams fat (11 grams sat. fat), 2 grams carbohydrates, 53 grams protein, 236 mg sodium, 167 mg cholesterol, 0 grams fiber.
Racks of Pork
Serves 10 / Preparation time: 20 minutes / Total time: 2 hours
This recipe, with two pork rib roasts, crisscrosses the two so the bones interlock for an elegant presentation. Serve with a ready-made apple chutney or sauteed fresh apples.
½ cup olive oil
4 teaspoons curry powder
2 racks of pork, 3 pounds per rack, 5 ribs each
1½ pounds medium red onions
½ teaspoon kosher salt
Freshly ground black pepper
Whisk together olive oil and curry powder in a small bowl. Brush all pork surfaces with half the oil mixture; reserve remaining oil. Let racks rest at cool room temperature 1½ hours before cooking.
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Peel onions; cut into 1-inch-thick wedges, leaving root ends intact. Salt and pepper pork racks on all sides. Put a large, heavy, flameproof roasting pan or tray over one or two burners on medium-high heat. When pan is hot, brown 1 pork rack on all sides, beginning with fat side down; 4-5 minutes. Remove; repeat with remaining rack.
Put racks in pan, facing each other, fat sides out, bone ends up and intertwined. Scatter onions around pork. Drizzle onions with remaining curry oil; toss lightly. Roast until meat thermometer inserted in center registers 150 degrees and onions are softened and browned, about 1 hour.
Remove pork from pan; arrange on serving platter, bones intertwined. Surround with onions. Cover loosely with foil; let rest at least 20 minutes. Serve sliced into chops. Sprinkle with some salt, top with apple chutney and garnish with onions.
From “Sunday Roasts: A Year’s Worth of Mouthwatering Roasts, from Old-Fashioned Pot Roasts to Glorious Turkeys, and Legs of Lamb” by Betty Rosbottom (Chronicle, $24.95). Tested by the Chicago Tribune.
395 calories (62 percent from fat), 27 grams fat (7 grams sat. fat), 6 grams carbohydrates, 30 grams protein, 214 mg sodium, 98 mg cholesterol, 1 gram fiber.