The biggest, most important thing to remember when cooking anything ever in your entire life, is to Chill Out. It took me a while to learn—I had a few great teachers—and I still slip up every now and then and burn the bacon when making breakfast, but it will come with practice and you will become the cook you wish you could be. The “Rule of Chilling Out” applies to most areas in life, actually, and should be learned as soon as possible.
Ways to Apply Chilling Out:
-Recipes are Guides. Maps. You can get there however you want, but this recipe will get you there most efficiently, at least the first time.
-Take your time. Take risks. Don’t be afraid to screw up. It’s just dinner. You can try again tomorrow.
-Cook with your nose. It is your best friend and always knows what’s up.
9 Very Long Yet Surprisingly Easy Steps:
1. Take your chuck roast, pork butt shoulder roast, brisket, whatever—chicken does not apply here because, like all birds, it is sensitive. It does not get better the longer you roast it, it gets drier. I LOVE roasting whole chicken, but it has a beautiful process all its own.
Cover meat in salt and pepper and whatever other spices or herbs you love to taste.
Ideas: oregano, fresh rosemary from the yard, cayenne, coffee, thyme, honey, celery salt. Really, anything.
Add a splash of balsamic vinegar and Worcestershire sauce and let the meat soak a bit. If you don’t have much time, get at least 20 mins of soak time—sorry, “marinating”— time in. Then again, if you don’t have much time, then you aren’t ready to make the Perfect Roast Anything.
2. Preheat oven to 250 degrees. Wow, short step.
3. Get, preferably iron, skillet hot. Every person on earth needs a big iron skillet. Seriously. Add butter and chopped garlic and onion and wait for the sizzle. Plop that meat right in.
4. You may want to add more salt or various other spices at this point, if you like. The people I usually make Roast Anything for are salt freaks, so I know I can’t hold back on the salt. I usually splash a bit more Worcestershire sauce in while searing the meat because it will immediately cook down.
Now, it isn’t necessary whatsoever, but a big plus is creating your own vinaigrettes and marinades at home. I made a Rosemary Garlic Vinaigrette a couple months ago and have been using it on EVERYTHING. I also made an interesting Thyme Chamomile Vinaigrette. These things are super easy to do and always add that nice something that people can’t quite put their finger on, but continue licking that finger anyway. Making a vinaigrette means, not kidding, throwing some stuff you think will taste good together into a jar, adding whatever vinegar you like, tightly covering it, and letting it sit in a cool dark place.
Food is easy, y’all.
5. After you get both sides of that meat browned, add a half cup of water to your skillet, cover it, and put it away in the oven. Don’t look at it. This is your chance to enjoy the rest of your afternoon knowing that dinner will be ready when it needs to be. Sit down, have a beer. Play peek-a-boo with your toddler for 4 hours. Take a nap. Whatever.
6. After AT LEAST 3 hours, preferably longer, pull the cover off the roast and turn that heat up to 400 degrees to cook one more hour or so. At this point you need to pay a bit more attention. I mean, you’ll be in the kitchen making your side veggies and grain of your choice anyway, so it’s no big hairy deal. Maybe I shouldn’t use a hair analogy when sharing a recipe.
7. After about 30 minutes you’ll notice the meat getting crispy on the surface and the liquid drying up a bit. Don’t freak out. You want this. You want that fond. Fond is the sauce created from the rendered fat, or sucs, of the pan-seared then roasted anything. This is the glory of Roast Anything, and the importance of an iron skillet. The glazed, iron filled, brown drippings. Sounds gross. Tastes like love and happiness. To save the fond, you need to add a bit more liquid now. Don’t go crazy. Maybe half cup. Do it by sight. You can pour in veggie or beef broth. Or water. I usually just throw in water.
8. Now wait about a half hour, or more, however long it takes to see the thick glaze of the fond and the crisp of the top of the roast. At this point your nose will know it is time, and if you poke the meat, you will feel that the top may be crisp but your finger squishes down in there quite nicely.
9. I’m done talking. Time to eat.
Chrissy Wise is a part time Stay-at-Home Mom, part time Cook, and full time ice cream lover. She and her full time partner, Jimmy Cousins, live in Highland and spend most nights staring at their best creative work, their son Buzz.