BLOCK NEWS ALLIANCE/MARLENE PARRISH Enlarge
What's your magic number? Seven? Eleven? Your bank PIN?
My go-to number in the kitchen is 450. As in 450 degrees Fahrenheit. Very, very, hot.
I like what roasting at high temperatures does. It's fast when I'm impatient. Meats turn out browned, rare, and juicy. Vegetables, and fruits too collapse and concentrate their flavors.
This has been a favorite way to roast since I tested recipes from Roasting by Barbara Kafka for a book review long ago. In her 1995 cookbook she says, "When you're hungry, roast. When you're in a rush, roast. When you're in doubt, roast. When you're entertaining, roast." Smart lady. Good plan.
Roast a whole chicken
To get all the meat done but still juicy, slide the bird into a preheated cast-iron skillet and place it in a 450°oven. After about 30 minutes, the heat is turned off, but the bird stays in the oven to finish cooking. The chicken is done in just one hour, and both dark (or what passes for dark meat these days) and white meat are tender, juicy, and perfectly cooked to their correct temperatures.
The recipe, foolproof, and dead-simple, is just the answer for those of us who cook for one or two. Often, we've downsized our homes, and although our new kitchens might be small, they always include an oven. And who doesn't love a roast chicken?
Roast a whole beef tenderloin
It takes a good measure of confidence and faith to blast this pricey, unforgiving cut and expect it to turn out rare. But our tested recipe is worth the angst. The pre-seasoned beef is browned and seared thoroughly on all sides, giving it a head start on the cooking. To finish, it is placed in a preheated hot oven to roast for a mere 10 to 20 minutes, then it is transferred to a board to rest. Result? Brown, beautiful crust, pink and juicy interior. Once done, serve the feast when you are good and ready because the roast will wait. I like it either warm or at room temperature. Pass an orange-creme fraiche horseradish sauce for company. Do hope for enough leftovers to make sliced roast beef sandwiches the next day.
Expect veggie pieces to shrink in size as they cook, losing water while concentrating flavors. That's a good thing because your family will tend to eat more. Try to roast foods with similar densities together, such as potatoes, carrots, and onions. Cauliflower roasted with shallots and garlic is wonderful. As a general rule, cut pieces to similar sizes, toss with olive oil, place in a single layer on a baking sheet with sides, and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Keep an eye on the browning; just the tips should get a bit of char. Should there be leftovers, add them to a quiche or tuck into a pita pocket with a little yogurt.
Deviled chicken drumsticks
Kid: "Hi, Mom. What's for snack?"
You: "Grab a drumstick and glass of milk. How was school?"
Hot, lukewarm or cold, these juicy drums are terrific. Just coat with mustard, dredge in spicy seasoned crumbs and bake. Make these for supper and have extras for picnics or just eating out of hand.
Tips for roasting at high temperatures
● Set the rack in the center of the oven, unless the recipe indicates otherwise.
● Preheat the oven, giving it a good long time to get up to 450 degrees.
● Use the proper pan size recommended by the recipe to avoid spattering.
● Avoid using disposable pans -- they can bend under the weight of heavier pieces of meat, causing a safety hazard.
● Every kitchen needs an instant-read thermometer. Got yours?
● Keep a clean oven. Dirty ovens smoke at high temperatures. If necessary, clean the oven after roasting.
● Never under-estimate the effect of carry-over time. Meats need to rest for at least 15 or 20 minutes so that the outer heat permeates the meat throughout and the juices redistribute themselves.
One-Hour Perfect Oven-Roasted Chicken
1 tablespoon kosher salt (or rub of your choice)
1/2 teaspoon pepper
1 (3 1/2-4-pound) whole chicken
1 tablespoon olive oil
Adjust oven rack to middle position. Place a 12-inch oven-safe skillet on rack in the cold oven. A cast-iron skillet is perfect. Now preheat oven to 450°.
Combine salt, pepper, and paprika (or rub) in bowl. Pat chicken dry with paper towels and rub with oil. Sprinkle evenly all over with salt mixture and rub in to coat evenly. Tie the legs together with string and tuck wings tips behind back. Place the chicken on a plate.
At 450°, the skillet will be blazing hot, so be careful. Using double potholders, remove the skillet from the oven. Transfer chicken, sliding it off the plate, breast side up, into preheated skillet. Place chicken in the skillet back into the oven. Roast 25-30 minutes depending on size.
Turn off oven and leave chicken 25-30 minutes longer or until breasts register 160° and thighs register 175°. Do not open that oven door at any time during the cooking.
Transfer chicken to a carving board and let rest, uncovered, for 20 minutes. While it rests, make a pan sauce or gravy if you like. Makes about 4 to Yield: 6 servings.
Source: Cooks Illustrated
Beef Tenderloin with Horseradish Sauce
4 pounds beef tenderloin, trimmed and tied
1 tablespoon kosher salt, more to taste
1 teaspoon black pepper, more to taste
1 teaspoon chopped fresh rosemary
1 fat clove garlic, coarsely chopped
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
2 cups creme fraiche
1/4 cup white horseradish
Grated zest of 1/2 orange
Season the tenderloin with the salt, pepper, rosemary, and garlic. Cover and refrigerate for at least 2 hours or, preferably, overnight. Let it come to room temperature for 1 hour before roasting.
Preheat the oven to 450°. Wipe off as much garlic as possible. (It tends to burn.)
In a large, ovenproof skillet over high heat, heat the oil. Add the meat and thoroughly brown all over, 4 to 5 minutes per side.
Place the skillet on middle rack and roast until an instant-read thermometer shows 120 degrees (for rare), 10-20 minutes. Remove from the oven and let the meat rest for 10 minutes before carving.
For the sauce, whisk together the creme fraiche, white horseradish, and orange zest. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
Yield: 8 to 10 servings.
Source: Melissa Clark, The New York Times
Sweet-Potato Slices with Garlic
3 large garlic cloves
1/4 cup olive oil
3/4 teaspoon salt
2 1/2 pounds sweet potatoes, peeled and sliced into ⅜-inch-thick rounds
Preheat the oven to 450° with the rack in the upper third. Place a piece of parchment paper on a rimmed baking tray.
Put the garlic through a press, then mince. In a medium bowl, stir together the garlic, oil, salt, and sweet potatoes.
Spread the potatoes in a single layer on the baking tray. Bake until golden and cooked through, about 20-30 minutes depending on thickness. Remove from the oven and flip the slices "pretty side up."
Yield: 4-6 servings.
Source: Gourmet Weekday
Deviled Chicken Drumsticks
For the crispiest coating, use panko -- the Japanese breadcrumbs that look more like bone-dry shards of crunchy white bread -- and mix with Parmesan and some melted butter before you coat the chicken. If you have any hot smoked Spanish paprika, use it instead of the cayenne. Chicken can also be roasted a day ahead and chilled.
12 chicken drumsticks
1/2 cup Dijon mustard
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
3/4 cup panko (Japanese breadcrumbs)
3/4 cup grated Parmigiano-Reggiano
3/4 teaspoon cayenne
3 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
Preheat oven to 450°, with rack in upper third. Pat chicken dry, then toss with mustard until evenly coated.
Stir together panko, cheese, cayenne, and salt and pepper. Drizzle with butter and toss well.
Dredge each drumstick in crumb mixture to coat, then arrange, without crowding, on a buttered large rimmed baking sheet. Roast until chicken is browned and cooked through, about 30 minutes. Serve warm, cold or at room temperature.
Yield: 12 drumsticks
Source: Gourmet Weekday