Ready for roasting

Teena Burgess | VOLUME 22, ISSUE 3

With cooler weather setting in, it’s roast time. And there are plenty of options to suit all tastes and appetites.

Roasting is a wonderful way to cook a wide variety of food. It brings out the flavor in meats, the sweetness in vegetables and preserves the succulence of fish. It is also one of the easiest methods of cooking, requiring only minimal attention once your roast is tucked into the oven. If the length of time it takes to cook a large roast is a problem, then just use individual portions. Both fish and poultry, in particular, take very well to being roasted in small amounts – in fact, slow roasting is my preferred method for cooking all pink-fleshed fish.

Roast Pork with Fennel, Juniper and Baked Apples

This roast of pork is in the Italian style – if you are lucky enough to have any leftovers, it is almost better cold than hot. The apples, which should be soft and a little caramelized, can be eaten with the pork as a sauce or a simple gravy can be made by deglazing the pan with a little wine, if preferred.

1.5-2 kg loin of pork

2tsp sea salt

2tsp juniper berries

2tsp fennel seeds

2tbs sage leaves

2 cloves garlic, minced

2tsp freshly ground black pepper

2tbs olive oil

6 small apples, halved horizontally

Put the salt, juniper berries, fennel seeds and sage leaves into a spice grinder and grind for 30 seconds. Put this mix into a small bowl and add the garlic and black pepper. Reserve 1 teaspoon of this and rub the remaining mixture all over the pork. Refrigerate for 1-2 hours. Preheat the oven to 240ºC. Rinse the salt mix off the pork and pat dry with a paper towel. Put the pork on a rack over a sink and pour 2 kettles of boiling water over the skin (rind). Again, dry with paper towels. Add the reserved spice mix to 1 tablespoon of the olive oil and rub into the skin. Put the pork in a baking tray filmed with the remaining olive oil. Roast for 30 minutes or until the pork skin starts to crackle. Lower the heat to 150ºC and cook for another 30 minutes, then add the apples, basting the pork at the same time. Cook for another 30 minutes, or until the juices run clear and the meat has reached an internal temperature of 80ºC. Allow the meat to rest, covered in a warm place for 15 minutes. Serves 6

Classic Roast Potatoes

What else would you serve with a beautiful roast except potatoes with a crisp, golden skin and a soft, fluffy centre? If you can get them, King Edward potatoes are excellent to roast, but Nicola, Pontiac, Desiree, Kipfler and Sebago are all suitable varieties as well.

1kg roasting potatoes

100gm butter, melted

2tbs olive oil

Preheat the oven to 190ºC. Peel the potatoes and cut them into evenly-sized pieces, if necessary. Drop them into a large pan of boiling water and cook for 5 minutes. Drain and place on a rack for 5 minutes to allow the skin to dry out. Mix the butter and oil together in a small bowl. Film a baking tray with a little of the oil mix and add the potatoes. Baste generously with the oil mix and roast in the oven for 45 minutes for small potato pieces or an hour for larger sized potatoes, basting regularly with the oil mix. Alternatively, add to the pan in which you are roasting the meat and baste regularly with the pan juices. Serves 6

Classic Roast Chicken

A golden, succulent chicken is one of the best dishes around, but a little care is required to get it just right. The bird needs to be basted and the cavity needs to be stuffed, if only with a few herbs, while the cooking time is critical. Below is the one which works for me. The butter bastes the breast meat from above, while the liquid and flavourings in the cavity gently add a little aromatic steam to the cooking process from below.

2kg chicken

100gm softened butter

2tbs stock or white wine

Half a lemon

3-4 sprigs fresh herbs – sage, thyme, rosemary etc

2tbs olive oil

Salt and pepper

Preheat the oven to 220 ºC. Rinse out the cavity of the chicken and pat dry. Remove any fat from the entrance to the cavity. Gently separate the skin on the front of the chicken from the underlying flesh. Push the softened butter onto the exposed flesh and pull the skin back down. Put the lemon and herbs into the cavity. Film a roasting pan with a little olive oil and place the chicken into it, breast-side-up. Spoon the wine or stock into the cavity. Truss the legs together for a better shaped bird. Grind a little salt and pepper over the bird and drizzle over the remaining olive oil. Cover the roasting pan – use greased aluminium foil if yours doesn’t have a lid. Turn the oven down to 175ºC and cook for 30 minutes. Remove the foil and cook uncovered, basting with the pan juices every 10 minutes, for another 45minutes or until the juices from the thickest part of the thigh run clear. Place the chicken on a warmed carving tray and cover with foil. Leave in a warm place to rest for 10-15 minutes. Pour the roasting juices into a small saucepan, remove any fat and boil down until just starting to thicken. Serves 6

Rotisserie Roasted Shoulder of Lamb with a Garlic and Mustard Rub

Don’t just use your rotisserie for chicken – other cuts also benefit from this method of roasting. Alternatively, if you can’t be fussed with all that skewering and tightening of screws, the lamb can be cooked in a roasting pan.

6 large cloves of garlic, peeled 1tbsp thyme leaves

2tbsp Dijon mustard

1tbsp olive oil

1kg boned and tied roast of lamb

1tbs olive oil

200ml white wine

Put the garlic, herbs, mustard and oil into a food processor and pulse to form a paste. Rub the paste into the lamb and leave for at least 30 minutes to absorb the flavors. Skewer onto a rotisserie spit and cook at 190ºC for about 45 minutes (25 minutes per 500gm) or until the juices run clear. If you have a meat thermometer, it should indicate an internal temperature of around 70ºC, unless you prefer it to be well done, in which case a temperature of about 80ºC is required. (If you are roasting the lamb, preheat the oven to 220ºC.) Film a roasting pan with a little olive oil and place the lamb into the pan. Reduce the oven temperature to 180ºC and cook as directed above. Baste the lamb two or three times with the pan juices. When cooked, remove the lamb to a warmed carving tray and cover with foil. Leave in a warm place to rest for 10-15 minutes. Meanwhile, remove the liquid from the pan. Pour off the fat and put the remaining juices into a small saucepan. Add the wine and boil down rapidly until the sauce thickens slightly. Serves 4

Glazed Potatoes

Just a variation on a theme – a glaze for your potatoes for when you feel like something different. This is based on using 1kg of potatoes.

2tbs soy sauce

1tsp honey

1tbs tomato sauce

1tsp Dijon mustard

1tbs olive oil

Preheat the oven to 190ºC. Mix all the glaze ingredients together. Peel, parboil and dry the potatoes as directed on page 103. Put them into a large bowl or pan and pour over the glaze. Toss gently to coat and cook as above, tossing the pan to prevent sticking while basting with the pan juices. Serves 6

Slow Cooked Citrus Salmon

Slow roasting Atlantic salmon in this way results in a meltingly tender flesh, with a delicate citrus edge to cut the richness of the dish. Serve with some home-made wedges cooked before the salmon.

4 salmon steaks or cutlets

2 lemons

2 limes

1tsp brown sugar

1tsp freshly ground pepper

1tsp freshly ground salt

Remove the zest from one of the lemons and one of the limes. Put it on a piece of paper towel and microwave on medium high for about 3 minutes or until the zest has dried. Allow to cool and place the crumble in a small bowl. Add the pepper and salt and mix. Juice the lemon and lime from which the zest has been removed and mix with the brown sugar. Cut the other lemon and lime into horizontal slices. Preheat the oven to 220ºC. Place a sheet of non-stick baking paper in the bottom of a baking dish and put the salmon on it. Brush with a little of the juice mix, sprinkle over half the zest mix and drizzle a little olive oil over each piece of fish. Surround with the lemon and lime slices. Put the dish in the oven and turn the oven off. Allow the fish to cook slowly in the dissipating heat for 20-30 minutes or until cooked through, when the flesh loses its translucency and takes on a milky tone. Sprinkle over the remaining zest mix before serving. Serves 4

Tomato, Red Capsicum and Red Onion Bake

Another very simple baked vegetable dish, which will cook alongside your roast.

4 large tomatoes

4 red onions

2 red capsicums

1tbs balsamic vinegar

1tsp brown sugar

1tbs olive oil

Preheat the oven to about 175ºC – the exact temperature is not critical. Cut both the tomatoes and red onions into thick crosswise slices. Slice the capsicum into lengthwise slices about half a centimetre wide. Butter an oven-proof baking dish and place the onion slices on the bottom. Cover with the tomato slices. Sprinkle on the sugar and season with salt and pepper. Layer the capsicum on top. Mix the balsamic vinegar and the olive oil together and drizzle over the capsicum. Bake for 30 minutes. Serves 6

Roasted Chicken Fillets with Herb Butter, Wrapped in Pancetta and Cooked on a bed of Potatoes

This is a great dish for entertaining – tasty, pretty and only needs a simple green salad to complete the meal.

225gms butter, cubed

1tbs thyme leaves

1tbs oregano

1kg chicken thigh or breast fillets

200gm thinly sliced pancetta

750gm baking potatoes

2tbs olive oil

Pepper and salt

Preheat the oven to 200ºC. Peel and cut the potatoes into 3mm slices. Film the roasting pan with half the olive oil. Spread the potato slices evenly over the bottom of the pan, season with salt and pepper and drizzle over the remaining olive oil. Place the pan in the oven to cook while you prepare the chicken. Put the butter and herbs into a food processor and pulse until well combined and softened. Lay the chicken pieces out on a board. If you are using thigh fillets, spread a teaspoon of the herb butter on the inside. Roll up the fillets and cover with pancetta. If you are using breast fillets, cut a little pocket into the thickest part of the breast with a sharp knife and insert a teaspoon of the butter mix. Close the opening and wrap the fillets with slices of pancetta. Remove the roasting dish from the oven and place the chicken pieces on top. Place any remaining butter around the chicken. Return to the oven, lower the heat to 175ºC and cook for 20 minutes or until cooked through. Remove the chicken to a warm serving plate, cover with foil and allow to rest for 5 minutes. Meanwhile, crispup the potatoes if necessary by placing them on the top shelf of the oven or under a grill. Serves 4