Only tender joints are suitable for oven roasting. Beef may be served underdone, but make sure veal, lamb and pork are cooked thoroughly. There is no agreement about the best heat; the temperatures given here are for slow roasting, an increasingly popular method.
Pre-set the oven to 180°C (350°F) Gas Mark 4. Put the weighed joint on a grid inside a roasting tray. If it is very lean, rub it with lard, dripping or good cooking oil. With pork, make sure the rind is scored (the butcher will do this) and brush the cut surface with oil and salt so that you will get crisp crackling. If you want very accurate timing, use a meat thermometer. Insert it into the joint before cooking.
Beef 20-25 minutes per 450 g (1 lb) plus 20-25 minutes. Using a meat thermometer, register 60°C (140°F) for rare beef: 70°C (160°F), medium; 80°C (180°F), well done.
Veal 35 minutes per 450 g (1 lb) plus 35 minutes. With a meat thermometer, register 80°C (180°F).
Lamb 25-30 minutes per 450 g (1 lb) plus 25-30 minutes. Using a meat thermometer, register 80°C (180°F).
Pork As for veal.
Bacon and gammon See the times given for boiling in your recipe. Simmer for half the stated time, drain, then roast in the oven for the rest of the cooking time, at 220°C (425°F) Gas Mark 7, basting frequently. The temperature, with a thermometer, should be 70°C (160°F).
Spit roasting To spit roast in the oven, follow the times given above. Under direct heat, allow 15 minutes per 450 g (1 lb) plus 15 minutes.
PRESSURE COOKING Reduces the cooking time by up to 75 per cent. Follow manufacturer’s instructions.
MICROWAVE COOKING Not suited to cuts requiring long slow cooking. Follow manufacturer’s instructions.
Times vary: a beef steak may take 7-10 minutes; a thin veal escalope 4; a pork chop 15— 20 minutes.
Grilling Pre-heat the grill. Brush the meat with butter or oil and add seasoning.
Frying Shallow-fry meat in butter, dripping, lard or oil. Cook at a high temperature to start with then lower the heat until the meat is cooked through.
This is a slow method of cooking for tougher cuts of meat. The meat is accompanied by vegetables, herbs and seasoning, and simmered in stock, water, wine or another liquid.
To prepare the meat, cube it, toss in seasoned flour and fry quickly to seal in the juices. Remove the meat and fry vegetables in the pan until golden. Stir in a little flour to absorb the fat then replace meat, pour on sufficient liquid to just cover and season. Simmer on the stove or in the oven at 160°C (325°F) Gas Mark 3, for 1 ½-3 hours.
Braising is a slow method of cooking for less tender cuts of meat such as brisket, spare rib chops and offal. To prepare the meat, roll in seasoned flour and fry quickly in
hot fat using a heavy-based pan or casserole. Remove the meat and lightly fry vegetables in its juices. Return the meat to the pan, barely cover the bed of vegetables with liquid, season, and cook slowly on a very low heat on top of the cooker, or in the oven for 2-3 hours at 160°C (325°F) Gas Mark 3. When the dish is cooked, reduce the liquid by boiling and pour over the meat. Slow cookers are also good for braising.
Small, tougher cuts of meat such as brisket and topside are suitable for pot-roasting. The oven-proof pan or casserole must have a tightly-fitting lid and a thick base, and be large enough to hold the joint comfortably without it touching the sides.
Fry the meat in a little fat until brown. Remove and cover the base of the pan with a bed of chopped root vegetables. Replace the meat and cook on the top of the cooker turning the meat frequently for 45-50 minutes in the oven at 160°C (325°F’) Gas Mark 3 for 1 ½-3 hours.
Salted meat and tongues are customarily boiled, but whole unsalted joints may also be cooked in this way.
Soak salted meat in cold water overnight. Drain, pour over fresh water, season, add a bouquet garni, a chopped onion and root vegetables. Bring to the boil, simmer slowly in a pan with a tightly-fitting lid. Allow about 20-25 minutes per 450 g (1 lb) plus 20-25 minutes.
When meat is to be reheated, it is important to bring it to the boil and then simmer for 20 minutes.
Sometimes steaks and veal escalopes are beaten to crush tough fibres; mincing meat has the same effect. Tough cuts, used for stews and braises, are often marinated for a few hours in an aromatic mixture with herbs, spices and an acid, such as wine or cider. As the meat soaks, the acidity in the marinade helps tenderize it.
A stew cooked in wine tastes even better, reheated thoroughly, the day after it is cooked. If you have a prepared meat dish and want to freeze it, follow the freezer manufacturer’s instructions.
There are many traditional accompaniments to roast and grilled meats. Their flavours enhance the meat.
Horseradish sauce, mustard, Yorkshire pudding.
Fried steaks French or English mustard; fried onion rings.
Maitre d’hôtel (parsley and lemon) butter, mustard, watercress.
Breadcrumb and parsley stuffing, bacon rolls.
Roast lamb, lamb chops
Mint sauce, red currant jelly.
Serve mutton with onion sauce and apricot and walnut stuffing.
Roast pork, pork chops
Apple sauce; sage and onion stuffing; orange and watercress salad.
When roasting lamb or pork, nick the skin in four or five places and insert pieces of garlic or sprigs of rosemary.