What’s worse than wasting good grassfed meat because you overcooked it?
Um…maybe losing a small child in a grocery store or at a park? Dropping your grandmother’s 200-year-old vase that was worth thousands of dollars?
Seriously, if you’re forking over the dough for grassfed, pastured, organic meat, it’s really a killer to end up hating (or throwing away) your dinner.
And while simply trying a new recipe is one sort of risk, roasting seems like the ultimate meat gamble – you’re putting many pounds of meat, sometimes $20-40 worth at farm prices, into an oven where you can’t even see it and hoping you know enough that it doesn’t overcook, become dry, end up tasteless…or worse.
I’m a Recipe Girl
When I cook, especially when I’m trying something new, I pretty much follow a recipe. That doesn’t necessarily mean I follow the recipe, like I don’t change anything (I do!), but that I learn my technique from the recipe I’m using.
I’ve never really thought about taking time to learn an actual “cooking technique” outside of simply learning as I go while making dinner.
My frustration at times when things don’t cook right, don’t gel like I expect, don’t emulsify correctly, or aren’t done on time for dinner (classic Katie problem) may be a sign that I should invest a little time in learning cooking techniques rather than just collecting “recipes.”
This week I’m working on roasting, which caught my eye at Craftsy for all the reasons mentioned above. If you’ve ever had a dry or disappointing roast beef or chicken, you might want to follow along with me.
Roasting Techniques Every Cook Should Know
See that word in the title of the class – “techniques?” That really did catch my eye and make me think, “Hmmmm, I don’t know a single roasting technique. I just follow a recipe when I roast something…” After watching a few of the lessons, which are very comprehensive, I realized I was totally right (for once) about my lack of knowledge.
What I’ve learned in just two lessons:
- the difference between high heat and low heat roasting and what meats to roast at both temps
- the point of allowing a piece of meat to sit at room temp for a bit before roasting
- why sometimes I read that a roast chicken is done at 160F and my meat thermometer’s guide says it should get to 180F
- why one would use twine to tie up a roast (never would have guessed)
- the best shape of pan for roasting a whole chicken (with high heat roasting) – and the one I use is absolutely the opposite! But I roast at 325F typically…so I’m learning a lot!
- why I often miss “perfectly done” on my roast chickens
- the point of the “resting” time for roasts
- sooo many mistakes I make when attempting to butcher (ahem) carve my roast chickens
A Few Tips for You
I would highly recommend the course, but I also feel strongly that I should always share something useful with you in a post – so here are some gems you can use right away from the “Roasting Techniques Every Cook Should Know” class at Craftsy:
- Meat is 75% water, and you want to take some steps to keep the moisture in (avoid dry roasts!). As the roast cooks, it releases some moisture and that water goes to the surface. THAT’S why meat needs some time to rest before you cut it – if you cut it right away (like I do since my roast chicken is almost always late for dinner), you let all those juices out. You need to let roasts “rest” out of the oven for 10-30 minutes depending on size so that the moisture can sort of “sink” back into the meat.
- High heat roasting is no good for very large cuts of roast beef or chicken – a chicken over 4 pounds should not be roasted at high heat…which means I need two techniques for chickens, which are often anywhere between 3 pounds and a whopping 7+ pounds at my house. Whoa!
- Don’t use a rack to hold the meat up above the pan in high heat roasting (anything 400F or over) – too much splatter, air movement, etc. Better to let those roast sit directly on the pan or on top of a few onion wedges for some air flow but not to much.
- When you’re roasting meat, it begins to heat faster as you go – that’s why I overcook things! So the time it takes for the meat to get from 100F to 120F is shorter than the time it will take to get from 145F to 165F…and suddenly you’ve overcooked your meat because you didn’t know that! I love that tip…
I hope those mini-tips will help you get a little jump on great chicken roasting, since as real foodies, I bet we do a ton more roasted chicken than your average cook.
Bone-in chicken is always the least expensive when you’re buying well-raised meat, and sometimes, if you buy direct from the farm like I do, a whole chicken is your only option. You’ve got to know how to deal with it. (Another one of Craftsy’s classes is all about dealing with chicken and has 2-3 videos just on how to cut up a whole chicken and cook it in different ways!)
Why Bother with a Class?
A number of you have been enjoying the free knife skills class I talked about a couple weeks ago, and my cutting board and I have been putting those skills into practice daily (I still stink at a lot of them, but I’m cognizant about them at least!).
I admit, though, that although I’ve written it in the calendar three times, my son and I haven’t yet watched any of the lessons. Life just moves too fast sometimes, and homework, chores, and enjoying a good book before bedtime seem to be interfering with my best laid plans.
That’s one difference when you pay for a class in my opinion – since you put your good money on it, I think you’re more likely to trump intention with action and actually watch the videos.
Another major difference in the regular classes is the instructor interaction. Molly Stevens, author of a whole book on roasting (and braising), is the instructor for this class, and she is required to answer all students’ questions. She’s very thorough (you can see the other questions asked) and I can’t wait to see the answer for mine, which was about any variation needed for pasture-raised birds which may be more sinewy or tough.
If you’re on the fence about this one, go free range and just go for it! Once you purchase it, it’s yours to keep forever — watch anytime, anywhere and as many times as you like. Craftsy also offers a refund guarantee if you’re not happy with the class (although I really can’t imagine). SIGN UP HERE
Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links to Craftsy from which I will earn a commission if you make a purchase.