Roasting is the cooking of foods at high temperature typically in an oven or a pit. The main difference between roasting and baking is that baking uses a lower cooking temperature and takes longer.
In fact roasting is probably one of humanity's oldest cooking techniques as all that it takes to roast meat is to place it directly on the fire. The meat is tenderized and becomes tastier and easier to digest. It probably was not long before our hunter-gatherer ancestors found that it was not the fire itself but the heat of the fire that cooked the meat. Thus strips of meat and vegetables would be hung on sticks above the fire. They also found that hot rocks cooked just as well as an open fire and that food buried in a pit with hot rocks roasted very nicely and tasted better as the food steamed as well as roasted.
These roasting pits are the fore-runners of modern ovens and the use of roasting for all kinds of foods is still alive and well today.
Below, two classic roasting dishes are presented:
Roast Pork with Fennel Seed
1 belly of pork
2 tbsp fennel seeds
1 tsp fresh rosemary leaves
1/4 tsp fresh thyme leaves
10 garlic cloves
sea salt and black pepper to taste
Score the skin of the pork with a sharp knife then remove any ribs from the underbelly (but reserve) and remove the skin in one piece (this is critical). Add the fennel seeds to a pestle and mortar and pound to a powder. Add the garlic and form a paste. Then add the other herbs and pound in along with plenty of seasoning. Use this mixture to spread over the de-skinned meat then put the skin back on top of the paste. Roll this up (with the skin on the outside) and secure with string.
Drizzle a little oil in the bottom of a roasting tin, add the pork bones on top of this and then palace the rolled belly of pork on top. Place in an oven pre-heated to 135 ° C and cook for two hours. Leave the meat to rest for at least half an hour then transfer to a serving plate.
Roast Welsh Lamb
2 kg leg of lamb
Salt, black pepper
Level teaspoon of ginger
Large tablespoon of honey
Bottle of dry cider
Rub the lamb all over with salt, pepper and the ginger. Spread the honey over it and sprinkle with 2 level tablespoons of chopped rosemary. Place the joint in a deep close fitting pan and pour the cider to come about 5 cm up the pan.
Roast the lamb for 1.5 to 2 hours in an oven pre-heated to 160 ° C, basting occasionally.
Transfer the lamb to a hot dish and let it rest for 15 minutes before carving. Strain the juice into a wide shallow pan and reduce by boiling to make well-flavoured gravy. Serve with boiled potatoes and tender seasonal vegetables.