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ALL ABOUT ROASTING by Molly Stevens BOOK REVIEW

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To order a copy of All About Roasting <click here>

 

All About Roasting: A New Approach to a Classic ArtTo give it its full title the book is called All About Roasting: A New Approach to a Classic Art

I thought I knew all about roasting until I picked up this book. I have been cooking roast dinners for more years than I care to remember so my expectations of learning anything new were very low. And I have to admit I was somewhat prejudiced in my outlook, after all how can anyone from outside the UK, the country famous for its roast beef and Yorkshire pudding, tell us how to cook a roast. How wrong could I have been?

I started reading and I was gripped, as if I was reading some crime thriller. I just wanted to know more especially when I came across salting. I had never heard of anyone salting a joint of beef (nor steaks), let alone done it. Sunday could not come quickly enough, or should I say Friday, as I would need to start salting my beef 24 hours before cooking.

I was talking to one of the checkout operators in my local supermarket about salting a roasting joint and she said she could remember her mother doing that. So is it a cooking skill we have just forgotten or am I just someone who never learnt it? Be that as it may the book is truly fascinating.

Every kind of roast is covered from the traditional roast dinner through to roast vegetables and fruit, with a whole section on fish. There is even the recipe for British Roast Potatoes.

One thing that strikes you as soon as you pick the book up . . . it is heavy and you certainly need to rest it on a table. And it is not just heavy because it is a big book but because there are so many pages just packed with information. The trend these days is for books packed with photographs selling on the appeal of the photographs rather the content of the book. Not so here. Photographs are limited as the book stands on its own for the quality of writing and the sheer knowledge that has gone into its writing.

I read in an Amazon review that "This indeed would be a good cookbook and gift for beginning cooks . . ." and it would, but for me this has already proved a real gem. As an experienced cook it is teaching me things I did not know and also reminding me of things I had forgotten over time or through bad habits. I just can't wait to try more form the book.

A lot of hard work and time has gone into putting it all together. It is one of those books that should be on your kitchen bookshelf.

Molly Stevens

Molly Stevens is a food writer, editor and cooking teacher living in Northern Vermont. Her cookbook All About Braising: The Art of Uncomplicated Cooking won a 2005 James Beard Foundation award and an International Association of Culinary Professionals award. Food & Wine magazine listed the book as one of the top 10 cookbooks of 2004. Molly's articles and recipes appear regularly in Fine Cooking magazine where she is a contributing editor. She has contributed regularly to Bon Appétit, Saveur and Eating Well magazines. Her recipes and tips have also appeared in The Wall Street Journal, Everyday with Rachel Ray, Real Simple, Yankee, Easy Living (UK), Drinks, Real Food, and House & Garden (South Africa) magazines

From 2000 through 2005, Molly co-edited the annual series, The Best American Recipes with Fran McCullough . In 2006, Molly and Fran culminated the series by publishing The 150 Best American Recipes: Indispensable Dishes from Legendary Chefs and Undiscovered Cooks , which was nominated as an IACP finalist. Previously, Molly co-authored One Potato, Two Potato with Roy Finamore. She also wrote New England, part of the Williams-Sonoma New American Cooking Series (Time-Life). Past editorial projects include Williams-Sonoma Kitchen Companion (Time-Life), The All New Joy of Cooking (Scribner), and several of Anne Willan's books, including Country Cooking of France (Chronicle), From My Château Kitchen (Clarkson Potter) and Cooking with Wine (Abrams).

Molly has been described in the New York Times Book Review as “a beautifully clear writer who likes to teach”. Classically trained as a chef in France, Molly has directed programs and taught at the French Culinary Institute, New England Culinary Institute, and L'Ecole de Cuisine La Varenne in Burgundy, France and Venice, Italy. She continues to travel and teach cooking classes across the country. Molly served on the board of directors for the Vermont Fresh Network from 2003 to 2008. She was a 2009 fellow in the Environmental Leadership Program.

(Taken from her web site)

Web site: www.mollystevenscooks.com

Ever fancied a cooking holiday? Ever fancied learning
to make bread - www.cookingholidays.co.uk

  • Roasts, glorious roasts - wogan "the book reader" (Amazon review)

    I thought I had the best book on roasts already in my collection, but I guess this will have to join the cookbook shelf and share the grandeur of roasts together. Molly Stevens includes recipes for; beef and lamb, pork, chicken and other poultry, fish and shellfish, vegetables and fruit.

    One of the best things about this book is the amount of useful information it gives in the introduction. There is a chart for what goes with specific dishes, and page numbers, many worthwhile conversion charts. The introduction includes information about the history of roasting, the science behind it, how to roast and basic methods, the effects of basting, brining, salting, steps to make a pan sauce, carving, the equipment, and ovens, even shopping instructions.

    There are not many photos of the finished recipes themselves, but there are very good photos of techniques and how to accomplish specific instructions along with the directions on how to prepare the recipes. There are suggestions for wine, serving amounts, roasting time and options are included.

    Sources with web sites, telephone numbers (all in the US) and an index is included.

    So far we have tried and enjoyed whole roast duck with hoisin sauce (lazy person's Peking duck), and the roast goose, which is supposed to be for Christmas, but we could not wait and a very good recipe for British roast potatoes.

    This indeed would be a good cookbook and gift for beginning cooks and even those a bit more experienced.

All About Roasting: A New Approach to a Classic Art

  • “Whether you are someone who takes visceral pleasure from the crackling sounds and intoxicating smells of a kitchen in which something is being roasted or a culinary scientist who just wants to know how it’s done - you need to have this cookbook.” ~ Danny Meyer, author of Setting the Table, The Transforming Power of Hospitality in Business

All About Roasting: A New Approach to a Classic Art

  • “I’m delighted to see that Molly Stevens has come out with a book that’s far ahead of the pack on the subject of roasting. The book is detailed yet succinct, complex yet simply explained and a must-have for any cook’s library. Brava.” ~ James Peterson, seven-time James Beard award winner, most recently for Meat: A Kitchen Education

All About Roasting: A New Approach to a Classic Art

  • “Roasting is my favorite kind of cooking. And All About Roasting is my favorite kind of book.” ~ Nigella Lawson, author of Nigella Fresh

ALL ABOUT ROASTING SAMPLE RECIPES

SEAR-ROASTED CHATEAUBRIAND

As much as I love to innovate and explore new flavors, there are times when I crave something classic, and Chateaubriand, especially when paired with béarnaise sauce, more than satisfies that craving. Chateaubriand has come to refer to the center, most indulgent portion of the beef tenderloin. Though you will often see it on restaurant menus (especially around Valentine’s Day), as just big enough to serve two, a larger portion makes an exquisite offering for a small dinner party. While you can prepare and serve this cut as you would any cut of beef tenderloin, there is something deeply satisfying about the combination of the tender, almost silky meat and the rich, tarragon-infused butter sauce. One bite and you instantly recognize why this combination has stood the test of time. Because it is smaller than a whole tenderloin, the Chateaubriand is manageable enough to sear in a skillet before gently roasting, which results in a gorgeously browned exterior and an interior that’s rosy and juicy.

Method: Combination sear and moderate heat
Roasting time: 25 to 35 minutes (plus 8 minutes to sear)
Plan ahead: For best flavor and texture, salt the beef 12 to 24 hours ahead.
Wine: Look for an aged classified growth Bordeaux (Pauillac or St.-Julien), or Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon.

Ingredients

One 2 to 2½ lb center-cut piece of beef tenderloin, trimmed of silverskin and any excess fat (see below)
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 tablespoon peanut oil or grapeseed oil
Béarnaise Sauce (see below)

How to make

  1. Season the beef. Sprinkle the entire surface of the beef with the salt and pepper (I use about 1 teaspoon salt and 1/2 teaspoon black pepper). Place it on a rimmed baking sheet on a wire rack and refrigerate, uncovered or loosely covered, for 12 to 24 hours.

  2. Heat the oven. Position a rack in the center of the oven and heat to 375°F (350°F convection). Let the beef sit at room temperature for about 30 minutes as the oven heats.

  3. Sear the meat. Heat a low-sided, 10 inch ovenproof skillet over medium/high heat until quite hot. Add the oil, and heat until shimmering, about 30 seconds. If the surface of the meat is not very dry, pat it dry with a paper towel. Lower the meat into the skillet and brown one side well. Turn with tongs to brown all sides, about 8 minutes total.

  4. Roast. Slide the skillet into the oven, and roast until an instant read thermometer inserted in the center reads 120°F for rare, 125°F to 130°F degrees for medium-rare, or 135°F for medium, 25 to 35 minutes.

  5. Rest, carve, and serve. Transfer beef to a carving board, preferably one with a trough, and let rest for 10 to 15 minutes before carving crosswise into one third to half inch thick slices. If serving with the béarnaise, spoon some sauce over each serving or transfer the sauce to a warmed sauceboat and pass it at the table.

Serves 4 – 6

Shopping for Chateaubriand

Depending on where you shop, you may find two definitions for Chateaubriand. Most American cookbooks (and the National Livestock Board) describe Chateaubriand as a roast cut from the center portion of the beef tenderloin. Some chefs (notably French ones) and some butchers also use the term to denote a single tenderloin steak (about 1¼ inches thick). Since these smaller steaks are best suited to grilling and sautéing, when I talk about Chateaubriand in this book, I am referring to the larger cut. Some markets use the term filet mignon roast to avoid confusion. Whatever the name, shop for a chunk of tenderloin in the 2 to 2½ pound range. Most often Chateaubriand comes from the evenly shaped center section of the tenderloin, but many markets also take it from the thicker butt portion. Both are good choices.

BÉARNAISE SAUCE

Béarnaise is a luxuriantly thick, rich sauce in the same family as hollandaise. Both rely on egg yolks, lots of butter, gentle cooking, and a good deal of whisking to make a thick yet light sauce. What sets béarnaise apart is the addition of a tangy reduction of shallots, tarragon, vinegar, and white wine that provides the perfect counterbalance to the buttery sauce. Making a good béarnaise is all about controlling the heat so that the yolks thicken but don’t scramble. Because I work on a gas stove, which responds quickly to adjustments in the level of heat, I cook my sauce directly on the stovetop in my favorite Windsor pan (see What Is a Windsor Pan?, page 84). Some cooks find using a double boiler is a safer bet. If you go that route, you will have more room to whisk if you skip the conventional double boiler and instead set a medium-size metal bowl over a saucepan filled partway with water, being sure the bottom of the bowl sits above the surface of the water and not in it. Béarnaise also makes fish, eggs, and vegetables - I love it with asparagus - mighty tasty indeed.

Ingredients

1/4 cup minced shallots (about 1 medium)
1/4 cup dry white wine
1/4 cup champagne or white wine vinegar
6 whole black peppercorns
Two 3 to 4 inch leafy sprigs tarragon, plus 2 teaspoons finely chopped fresh tarragon
12 tablespoons (1½ sticks) unsalted butter
2 large egg yolks
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

How to make

  1. Make the shallot-vinegar reduction. Combine the shallots, white wine, vinegar, peppercorns, and tarragon sprigs in a small saucepan. Bring to a simmer over medium/high heat and cook until you have only 2 tablespoons of liquid left and the shallots begin to look dry, about 5 minutes. Strain through a small fine-mesh strainer (I often use a tea strainer), pressing firmly on the solids, into a bowl or liquid measure. Discard the solids and let the liquid cool to room temperature.

  2. Clarify the butter. Melt the butter in a small heavy-based saucepan over medium-low heat. Once the butter is melted, adjust the heat so it simmers gently (it will splatter some, but the idea is to control the heat so it doesn’t pop and splatter wildly). Simmer until there appears to be no more foam rising to the surface, about 3 minutes. The butter will have separated into three parts: solids floating on top, a clear golden liquid, and more solids resting on the bottom of the pan. Remove from the heat and spoon off just the thick foam from the surface, doing your best not to spoon away the clear liquid butter; don’t worry about removing every last bit of foam. Set the butter aside in a warm spot; when you make the sauce, you need the butter to be warm enough that it doesn’t solidify, but not so hot that it breaks the emulsion.

  3. Make the emulsion. Combine the egg yolks with 1 tablespoon of the shallot-vinegar reduction and 1 tablespoon water in a heavy-based saucepan (a 1½ to 2 quart pan, preferably a Windsor pan, works well) or in a medium metal mixing bowl. Whisk the yolks vigorously, off the heat, until they are lighter in color and have gained a little volume, about 30 seconds.

    Set the saucepan over low to medium-low heat (if using the bowl for a double boiler, set the bowl over a pan of barely simmering water, making sure the bottom of the bowl does not touch the surface of the water). Heat the yolks, whisking constantly and vigorously, until the yolks lighten in color and thicken just enough so the whisk leaves tracks on the bottom of the pan (or bowl) as you drag it across, 2 to 3 minutes. (Do not try to rush this process; if the heat is too high, you risk scrambling the yolks and ruining the sauce.) Once the yolks are thickened, immediately remove the pan (or bowl) from the heat and whisk for another 30 seconds to slow the cooking.

  4. Add the butter. Begin whisking in the clarified butter, a tablespoon or so at a time, until the sauce is thick and voluminous. (If at any time the butter doesn’t appear to incorporate into the sauce - in other words, if the sauce threatens to break - stop adding butter and whisk the sauce steadily until it comes back together). Continue adding all of the clarified butter, pouring carefully so you don’t add the milky solids that have sunk to the bottom.

  5. Finish the sauce. Whisk in 1 teaspoon of the remaining shallot-vinegar reduction, 1/2 teaspoon salt, and the finely chopped tarragon. Season to taste with the remaining reduction, more salt, and pepper. Keep in a warm, but not hot, place until ready to serve. (I generally keep it near the back of the stove.)

Makes about 1 cup, enough for 4 to 6 serving

 

BASIC ROASTED RACK OF LAMB

Basic Roasted Rack of LambWhen I’m looking to make a special-occasion dinner but don’t have a lot of time to fuss, rack of lamb is one of the first dishes I consider. The delicate arch of slender rib bones and the tender, distinctive meat bring a certain luxury to even the humblest table.Roasting and carving is an entirely straightforward affair—as long as you have a reliable meat thermometer in the house. My roasting method involves a quick sear on top of the stove followed by 20 to 30 minutes in a moderate oven. If you’re entertaining, you can sear the lamb well before your guests arrive, which gives you a chance to wipe up any splatters and vent any smoke, and then quietly roast the racks during cocktails.

Depending on the setting, rack of lamb pairs with a range of side dishes, from simple to fancy, from roasted potatoes (page 488) and green beans to gratin dauphinoise and porcini risotto. Traditionalists may like mint jelly on the side, but I prefer a more exciting condiment, like my Fig, Mint, and Pine Nut Relish (see below).

Method: Combination sear and moderate heat
Roasting time: 20 to 30 minutes (plus 4 to 6 minutes to sear)
Wine: Classic rack of lamb does exceptionally well with a youthful Pinot Noir from the Russian River Valley or Carneros in California or Oregon’s Willamette Valley.

Ingredients

2 racks of lamb (1¼ to 1½ lbs and 7 to 8 ribs each), trimmed (see Trimming and Frenching Rack of Lamb, page 125)
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

How to make

  1. Heat the oven. Position a rack near the center of the oven and heat to 350°F (325°F convection).

  2. Trim the lamb. If there is more than a thin layer of fat left on the racks, trim them so that only a thin layer remains. Do not attempt to remove all the fat, and be careful not to cut away any of the precious meat.

  3. Sear the racks. Pat the lamb dry and season the meat all over with salt and pepper. Heat a heavy skillet (12-inch cast iron works well) over high heat. Lower one rack, meat side down, into the hot skillet. If there’s room without crowding, sear the other rack at the same time. It’s okay if the bone ends extend over the side of the skillet (your objective here is to get a good sear on the meat; the bones don’t need to brown). When the top is nicely browned, 2 to 3 minutes, turn with tongs and brown the bottom for 2 to 3 minutes. Remove and repeat with the second rack, if necessary. This can be done up to 2 hours ahead. Leave the meat at room temperature. (If you wish to protect the tips of the rib bones from possibly charring, cover them with a thin strip of aluminum foil. I don’t bother as it doesn’t affect the flavor, and I like the appearance of a little char.)

  4. Roast. Transfer the racks, bone side down, to a heavy-duty rimmed baking sheet or shallow roasting pan. You may need to interlock the bone ends to make the racks fit. If possible, arrange the racks so the meaty part faces the outside of the pan; this will help them to cook more evenly. Roast until an instant-read thermometer inserted in the center of the meat reads 125°F to 130°F for rare to medium-rare, 20 to 25 minutes, or 135°F to 140°F for medium-rare to medium, 25 to 30 minutes.

  5. Rest, carve, and serve. Transfer the lamb to a carving board, preferably one with a trough, to rest for 5 to 10 minutes. Carve by slicing down between the rib bones, cutting into single rib chops (1 bone each, as shown above) or double rib chops (2 bones each) as desired. Serve, spooning any carving juices over the top.

Serves 4 - 6

FIG, MINT, AND PINE NUT RELISH

In place of traditional mint jelly, serve this bright tasting relish alongside roasted lamb (it’s good with pork and chicken, too). If you’re skilled at multitasking in the kitchen, make the relish as the lamb roasts. If there’s already a lot going on, make it ahead of time. The relish can sit for several hours before serving, but the lamb is best served right away.

Ingredients

1/2 cup finely chopped dried figs, black mission, Turkish, or Calimyrna (about 3 ounces)
1/4 cup coarsely chopped fresh mint
1/4 cup pine nuts, lightly toasted and coarsely chopped
1 scant teaspoon minced garlic
1 teaspoon finely grated lemon zest
3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

How to make

In a small bowl, combine the figs, mint, pine nuts, garlic, and lemon zest. Stir to combine. Drizzle in the oil and lemon juice. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

Makes about 3/4 cup, enough for 4 to 6 servings

 

SLOW-ROASTED HERBED TURKEY BREAST

Slow-Roasted Herbed Turkey BreastAs much as I enjoy roasting a whole turkey, there are occasions when I crave the taste of roast turkey but don’t want to bother with the whole bird. Fortunately, a single boneless turkey breast becomes a wonderful little roast, ideal for a small dinner party or a relaxed family supper. I will sometimes make this when there are only 2 or 3 of us at the table, knowing that I can look forward to superb turkey sandwiches later in the week. A single breast weighs between 2 and 3 pounds. For this recipe, you want one with the skin on, but no bones. This gives you a compact roast that will have a handsome, browned exterior and be a cinch to carve.

There are two keys to keeping the turkey breast moist and flavorful. First, the turkey gets rubbed with an herb paste ahead of time, so the salt and seasonings can work into the meat. I use a full complement of herbs—sage, rosemary, and thyme—but you could certainly create your own combinations based on what’s growing on the windowsill or sitting in your refrigerator. Then you want to sear the breast in a skillet before roasting it in a low oven, where it can cook through without drying out. I like to serve this with roasted potatoes and something green, like string beans or a salad. The meat is so moist that it doesn’t need gravy. Trust me.

Method: Combination sear and low heat
Roasting time: 1½ to 1¾ hours (plus 12 minutes to sear)
Plan ahead: The turkey needs to be rubbed with an herb paste 6 to 24 hours before roasting.
Wine: One of the most versatile of all wine pairings - anything from fruity dry and off-dry whites, such as Riesling, Chenin Blanc, and Pinot Gris, to lighter reds, such as a young vintage of Pinot Noir or Beaujolais.

Ingredients

2 garlic cloves
1¼ teaspoons kosher salt
3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
2 teaspoons finely chopped fresh sage
2 teaspoons finely chopped fresh thyme
2 teaspoons finely chopped fresh rosemary
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/4 teaspoon celery seeds
1 boneless turkey breast half (about 2½ lbs), with skin

How to make

  1. Make the herb paste. Combine the garlic and salt in a mortar and pound until you have a smooth paste. (If you don’t have a mortar, make the paste using a chef’s knife; see Making Garlic Paste Without a Mortar and Pestle, page 230.) Transfer to a small bowl and stir in 2 tablespoons olive oil, herbs, pepper, and celery seeds.

  2. Season and tie the turkey breast. Smear the turkey breast all over with the herb paste, using your fingers to slide some of the paste under the skin, being careful not to loosen the skin completely. Using your hands, arrange the turkey breast in a neat shape, tucking the edges under so the breast sits plumply on the cutting board. Now tie the breast, using 2 to 3 loops of kitchen string to secure it in a cylindrical shape and looping a longer string from end to end to keep the roast compact. Place the roast on a wire rack on a baking sheet or tray and refrigerate, preferably uncovered, for 6 to 24 hours. Let the roast sit at room temperature for about an hour before roasting.

  3. Heat the oven. Position a rack near the center of the oven and heat to 300°F (275°F convection).

  4. Sear the turkey. Heat a large skillet (11 to 12 inches) over medium-high heat. Add the remaining tablespoon oil and heat until the oil shimmers. Sear the turkey skin side down, maneuvering it and turning it from side to side with tongs so the skin side sears evenly, about 6 minutes. Turn the turkey skin side up and brown lightly on the bottom, another 2 to 3 minutes. Transfer the turkey, skin side up, to a shallow roasting pan or baking dish not much larger than it is (about 8 by 12 inches).

  5. Roast. Slide the turkey into the oven and roast until the juices run mostly clear with a trace of pink and an instant-read thermometer inserted in the thickest part registers about 165°F, 1½ to 1¾ hours. Let the turkey rest for 20 minutes.

  6. Carve and serve. Remove the strings and carve the turkey across the grain into 1/4 to 1/2 inch thick slices. There will be few, if any, pan drippings (because of the pre-seasoning and slow cooking), but if there are a few, drizzle these over the meat.

Serves 4 - 6

To order a copy of All About Roasting <click here>

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Published 22 November 2011

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