Here is your template. Armed with this, all you need is the weight of the meat and the temperature you’re aiming for.
■ oven thermometer (monitoring) and instant-read meat thermometer (temping the meat) ■ sturdy rimmed baking sheet with flat roasting rack
Step 1: Prep ➞ The meat must start at room temperature. When meat is cold, seasonings sit on top of the fat cap and muscle. They don’t penetrate. Room temperature meat allows the salt and pepper to break into that exterior shell, acting as a tenderising agent as well as deepening flavour. ➞ I use a heavy rimmed baking sheet lined with heavyduty foil and topped with a flat roasting rack. (Those large, expensive roasting pans with handles and V-shaped racks are primarily for turkey.) ➞ Seasoning style depends upon size and cut. For a smaller roast with very little fat cap, like a pork loin, I might make a paste out of salt, pepper, chopped garlic, and a drop of oil (pasty, not runny), smear it on, and give it a chance to sink into the meat, about 20 minutes. For a roast that will benefit from some complexity, like a butterflied leg of lamb, I make a paste of roasted garlic (mellows it), Dijon mustard, rosemary, black pepper, and olive oil, smeared on the inside of the roast (before it is rolled and tied) as well as the outside. ➞ On a larger roast with a substantial fat cap, like a majestic prime rib that can stand on its own flavour-wise, I just liberally season with salt and pepper and roast on top of a bed of aromatics: sliced onions and strong, woody herbs like rosemary and thyme (not soft ones like basil). Placed under the roasting rack, this gives the exterior crust a great aroma without flavouring the meat itself.
Step 2: Heat ➞ When a roast goes into a hot oven, moisture trapped in the fibres of the meat is pulled towards that heat source. While you do get a beautiful dark exterior at the end of the roasting period, you also get a well-done rim around the edge – not desirable. But if you use a low-temperature oven, the roast slowly acclimates to the heat, gradually raising its internal temperature. As a result, the meat retains its moisture and has an even texture. ➞ There’s ongoing kitchen controversy about when to oven-sear the meat. Some swear by an initial blast prior to roasting in a moderate oven. I am a practitioner of the reverse sear, first roasting in a low-temperature oven, then hitting it with the higher heat. I realise this is a break with tradition on what might be our most traditional meal. But why not do everything possible to preserve the meat’s moisture, which is a function of heat plus time. So: when the roast gets to your desired internal temperature in the low oven, it’s time to turn up the heat and brown the fat cap. ➞ There will be rendered fat in the pan. Siphon most off, because you’re about to heat things up to 230 degrees. In a 120-degree oven, that temperature rise is so slow it won’t affect the meat itself. It will just give you a beautiful brown crust. The sign that it’s done: colour, which typically happens in about 10 minutes.
Step 3: Rest ➞ Transfer the roast to a cutting board for about 30 minutes (15 for a small roast). Be patient. If you mess with the exterior too soon, the juices that are drawn to its heat will make a speedy exit rather than be absorbed back into the meat. (While the meat rests, carry over cooking can raise the internal temperature as much as 15 degrees.) PM