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5 Steps to a Great Roast

By Cook's Illustrated Published March 2008

Beef, pork, and lamb roasts come in a variety of shapes and sizes that can make it challenging to produce well-browned, flavorful, evenly cooked meat. Follow theses tips to ensure success.

1. Season and let stand

Sprinkle the exterior of the roast with salt (preferably kosher) and let it stand at room temperature for at least an hour. As the roast sits, the salt draws out its juices, which then combine with the salt before being reabsorbed into the meat. The result: a roast that is flavorful both inside and out.

2. Tie before cooking

Tying a roast forces it into a more even shape, ensuring that the thin, narrow ends won't overcook before the thick middle part is done. Tying also makes for a nicer presentation and easier slicing.

3. Sear before roasting

Browning meat produces new flavor compounds that are essential to the success of a roast. But blasting the oven temperature to accomplish this can dry out the meat's exterior and doesn't uniformly brown the entire roast. To guarantee a well-caramelized crust, sear the roast in 1-3 tablespoons of oil for two to three minutes per side, either in the roasting pan or a skillet, before putting it into the oven.

4. Choose appropriate roasting method

Most recipes call for cooking roasts in a moderately hot (350- to 400-degree) oven, but this method can lead to an overcooked exterior and an unevenly cooked interior. Depending on the meat's size and shape, we prefer to roast at temperatures as high as 450 degrees or as low as 250 degrees.

5. Let Meat Rest

All roasts should rest under a foil tent for 10 to 20 minutes before being carved. As the protein molecules in the meat cool, they will reabsorb any accumulated juices and redistribute them throughout the roast.

First, season the meat and let it stand.

Next, tie the roast before cooking.

Searing the meat before roasting will ensure flavor without sacrificing juiciness.

After the meat has cooked, let it rest under a foil tent.