9 Things You Should Roast This Christmas
Why serve roasts on Christmas? Is it because they’re elegant, or because they feed large crowds? Or perhaps it’s because they’re a dish that is prepared so fittingly with the time of year — they're easy, comforting, and require a long stay in a big hot oven.
Whatever the reason, roasts have been a part of the traditional Christmas dinner since long before the days of Charles Dickens and his 1843 novel A Christmas Carol, when Ebenezer Scrooge snaps out of his Grinch-like ways and serves up a big fat goose for the holiday. Ranging in size, type, and flavor, roasts continually make their way onto holiday menus and will forever be the culinary symbol of a picturesque Christmas. Because they’re such a definitive part of the holiday, what better way to go about them than with some fresh ideas for your holiday roast?
The definition of roasting is an uncovered, dry cooking technique. Roasting is preferred for large cuts of meat because it encourages even cooking at a regulated pace, ensuring a nice brown crust on the outside and moist interior on the inside. You may be asking yourself what the difference is between roasting and baking, and really, there is none, but some people say they like to think of baking as a cooking technique that brings things together (baking dough, cookies, etc.), while roasting is cooking something through. Along with that, roasting is usually paired with particular types of food — large cuts of meat because the technique makes great use of their fat, and hearty vegetables because it caramelizes their natural sugars.
The best part about roasting is that it’s easy — it’s a set-it-and-forget-it cooking method that makes it the perfect one for entertaining over the holidays. There are only a few things to remember when roasting, and then the rest is just deciding what, exactly, you want to roast:
- To ensure even cooking, it’s best to keep the meat elevated while roasting with either a roasting rack or bed of vegetables (we vote for the bed of vegetables).
- For larger cuts of meat, you usually want to start at a high temperature to give it a nice golden crust, and then reduce the heat for a low and slow cooking method to ensure a tender inside.
- Always let the roast rest at least 10 to 20 minutes when it’s done to let the juices return to the meat. Speaking of which, you’ll know when a particular roast is ready based on the internal temperature:
- Poultry: 165 degrees
- Beef and lamb: 145 degrees for medium-rare, 160 degrees for medium, 170 degrees for well-done
- Pork: 145 Degrees
With these three things to remember in place, now it’s just a matter of deciding what you’re going to roast come Christmas Day. No matter what type of cook you are — traditionalist, experimental, beef or pork lover — these nine roasts will give you new and creative ideas for your holiday menu. Now all you have to worry about is finishing your shopping list.
Anne Dolce is the Cook Editor at The Daily Meal. Follow her on Twitter @anniecdolce