Roasting is a dry heat method of cooking food, wherein the food, which is usually meat, is exposed to dry heat. The heat source could be from an open fire, heat from an oven or even dry heat inside a pot or container. When preparing roasted dishes, the food gets caramelized and attains an extremely appetizing taste, which is a unique feature of roasted recipes. Roast beef, pork and chicken are some of the most popular roasted dishes of worldwide prominence.
Origin of Roasting
Roasting was originally applied to a process of cooking food, generally large pieces of meat or a whole animal, over an open fire, with the meat placed on a rotating spit. The rotating spit allowed the meat to get evenly cooked, and the direct contact of the food with heat resulted in Maillard reaction, a process of browning, which imparted a unique, delectable flavor to the roasted food. The first usage of roasting as a method of cooking can be dated back to the domestication of fire by man, which happened thousands of years ago. Almost every cuisine began with cooking food over open fire; hence roasting is still practiced in almost every cuisine of the world. Roasted dishes mostly include various cuts of meat, but there are also some vegetables that can be used for roasting purposes.
The Process of Roasting
Although roasting originally evolved as a method cooking food over direct fire, there are four traditional methods of roasting that are practiced across the globe till date. These methods include:
1. Pot Roasting: The food is roasted inside a covered utensil, like a pot or a pan. This method is practiced only for superior quality meats, such as small cuts of meat and poultry. The food is generally tied, in order to retain its shape. The meat is placed in a thick-bottomed pan, which is layered with fat, and placed on low heat. The juices released from the food can be used to make an accompanying sauce or gravy for the pot roasted dish.
2. Spit Roasting: Spit roasting is the oldest and original form of roasting. Food is generally basted with fat, and cooked on an open fire over fierce heat. The spit should be constantly revolved in order to ensure even coloring and cooking. The intensity of heat depends on the size of the meat being roasted.
3. Oven Roasting: As the name suggests, this type of roasting is carried out in an oven, with the food placed on a roasting tray, along with hot fat. Aromatic herbs and vegetables are often added along with the meat so as to enhance the flavor. Beef and pork are popular types of roasted recipes.
4. Tandoori method of Roasting: A tandoor is a clay oven, popularly used in the cuisines of Southeast Asia and the Middle East. Various types of roasted dishes comprising mainly of mutton and poultry items are prepared in the Tandoor. Tandoori chicken is a hugely popular roasted dish made by marinating chicken pieces and roasting them in the tandoor.
Popular Roasted Dishes
Roasted cuts of beef and pork are most famous roasted dishes in the Western cuisine, whereas poultry and mutton are more preferred in Asia and the Middle East. Although meat is the most suited ingredient for preparing roasted dishes, certain types of tuberous and root vegetables such as potatoes and carrots can are also suitable for being roasted.
Advantages and Disadvantages of Roasting
The process of roasting highly enhances the flavor of the food, which is a big advantage. Also, roasting is an inexpensive process as the basic method does not require much specialized equipment. On the other hand, roasting involves the use of a lot of fat, which is not very appealing for health conscious gourmets.
Techniques Similar to Roasting
Poeling and Encasserole are cooking methods very similar to roasting, with the only difference being that poeling is pot-roasting carried out only in butter, and encasserole is poeling along with the addition of vegetables. Grilling and barbecuing are also very similar to roasting, as both involve dry heat sources.
The intensity of heat decreases with the increase in thickness of the meat.