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How to cook the perfect roast

Top tips for the ultimate roast dinner

Roast dinners are a Kiwi favourite, and stress-free way of feeding a lot of people with one meal. They can still be a little intimidating, though, especially if you haven’t made one before. There’s a bit of preparation, but the good news is once it's in the oven, a Sunday roast dinner usually takes care of itself. 

With this easy guide to cooking beef, pork, lamb and chicken, you’ll soon be a roast dinner master!



Preparation in 8 easy steps


Depending on the size of the roast and the number of people you’re feeding, you may need as much and two and a half hours for all the preparation, cooking, resting, and carving time before your roast is ready to plate and serve.

  1. Before you start, make sure you have enough trays and can fit them in the oven. As a minimum, you will need an oven tray for your meat and another for vegetables. Maybe two trays of vegetables depending on how many people you’re feeding. 
  2. Know the correct cooking temperature for your cut of meat and cooking time. This is so essential, it’s worth saying twice. Ask your New World Butcher for advice if you’re not sure.
  3. Plan ahead of time, so you know what has to go into the oven and when. The last thing you want is some of your food to go cold while you’re waiting for the rest to cook!
  4. Take your meat out of the fridge at least 30 minutes before you put it in the oven. Never put cold meat into a hot oven. This will allow enough time for the beef or lamb to come to room temperature and result in more even cooking.
  5. Preheat the oven. You want to cook the meat at a single consistent temperature for the entire cooking time. TWhile you’re waiting for the oven to heat up, peel and cut your vegetables.
  6. Cook the meat on a meat rack. This helps to ensure even circulation of heat so the meat cooks at the same pace throughout. It also ensures consistent browning.
  7. Get your utensils ready. You’re going to need a roasting pan, meat rack, thermometer or skewer, a board for resting the meat on and a carving knife. 
  8. Warm your plates. This isn’t essential but it does help to keep your food warm while you’re eating.

How to cook roast beef

The perfect roast beef probably comes a close second in most Kiwi households. Follow these tips on how to make sure it’s tender, juicy and delicious.

Seasoning roast beef

Most of the time, adding a little salt and pepper to the outside of the beef roast, then basting it as it’s cooking is all the seasoning it needs.

If you’re feeling a little fancy or want to try something different, try this Horseradish crusted roast beef recipe. Blend horseradish, pink peppercorns, your favourite Italian herbs until smooth, mix through flour and breadcrumbs, then coat your roast before placing it in the oven.


Do you need to sear beef?

Searing meat before you put it in the oven is a good way to boost the flavour of your roast meat. The process of searing caramelizes the beef’s natural sugars forming a rich golden brown crust.

While your oven is warming up, pour a little oil in a large frying pan on a high heat. Once very hot, add your beef roast and sear each side, making sure it’s golden brown. As a general rule, to get that golden brown, crispy surface you’ll need to sear the meat for at least 10 minutes - so be patient! You can use this time to add salt and pepper to the outside of the beef too.


Why basting helps

Basting helps to keep your roast beef juicy and stops it drying out. Every now and again, take the roast out of the oven and use a spoon to pour the juices fromthe bottom of the roasting tray over the top of the meat.


How to rest roast beef

Resting your roast beef is essential. The beef will keep cooking even after it’s taken out of the oven. The heat from the oven forces all of the juices inside the beef to the centre. Resting your beef roast before cutting and serving allows the juices to be reabsorbed throughout the rest of the meat, so every slice is tender and juicy.

The time taken to rest will depend on the size of the cut. Generally, you should let your roast rest for 10 to 20 minutes before carving. A rule of thumb used by some chefs is 1 minute resting time for every 100g of meat.


Beef cuts and cooking times

In the Butcher’s section of your local New World you’ll find a variety of different cuts of beef. All of them can be roasted, but cooking times and methods will vary.

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For example, if you’re roasting Prime Rib on the Bone or a Standing Rib Roast, leaving the bone in will act as a heat conductor, adding flavour and reducing the cooking time.

Some cuts of beef are more tender than others, and so they’ll need to be treated differently to make sure you get that perfectly cooked roast beef every time. More tender beef cuts need a higher heat for a shorter amount of time, while slightly tougher cuts prefer a lower heat for a little longer. Ask your New World butcher!

TIP: Roasts with bone-in cook more quickly than boned and rolled roasts.

Slow roasting beef cuts

Some cuts of beef need to be roasted for longer on a lower heat. For these cuts, pre-heat your oven to 160-170℃ and cook it for longer. See below for information about cooking times.

  • Bolar, 
  • Rib-eye
  • Rump
  • Chuck
  • Rolled-rib roasts
  • TIP: The best way to roast these beef cuts is fatty side up, placed on a meat rack inside a roasting dish 

    Fast roasting beef cuts

    Some cuts of beef require much shorter cooking times but at a higher heat. For these cuts, preheat your oven to 220℃ for a shorter cooking time. See below for information about cooking times.

  • Fillet
  • Rump eye
  • Sirloin
  • Standing rib
  • Rib eye
  • Scotch fillet roasts. 
  • Beef cuts for the slow cooker

    If you’re looking for ‘falling-off-the-bone’ delicious roast beef then then look no further than your trusty slow cooker (AKA the ‘crock pot’)! Simply, pop your meat in the slow cooker and cook on low for 6 to eight hours until the meat is tender. 

    This is a great way of cooking slow roasting beef cuts, locking in the flavour and making them tender and juicy. 

    Cooking times for roasting beef

    Getting the cooking time right is a crucial step to getting that perfect rare, medium or well done roast. The table below is for your typical fast roasting cuts. Use the times as a guide and make sure you check the internal temperature with a thermometer or use a skewer to make sure your meat is cooked.
    Weigh your raw cut first, as that will tell you how long it needs to stay in the oven. 

       Minutes per 500g  Internal Temperature of Cooked Beef
    Rare   20-25 mins 50℃ 
     Medium  25-30 mins  65℃
     Well Done  30-35 mins  75℃

     

    So for example, if you had a 4kg roast and you would like to serve it medium rare, you would want it in the oven for 100 minutes, or just over an hour and a half.

    If your roast is particularly lean, or you want it cooked on the rarer side, don’t leave it in the oven as long. If your cut of beef is quite fatty or you like your roasts well done, it may take a little longer to cook.

    How to know when your beef is cooked

    There are two ways to check whether your roast beef is cooked how you want it. 

    Using a meat thermometer

    Meat thermometers come in analogue (which are usually safe to leave in the oven) or digital which are battery operated. Use the thermometer at around the time you expected the meat to be done and always insert the thermometer into the thickest part of the meat away from any bone, grizzle or fat. Take  two readings from different places particularly with any cuts that are an ‘odd’ shape.

    Using a skewer

    Take a thin metal skewer and stick it through the thickest part of your beef roast. Remove the skewer and gently press the meat around the skewer hole until you can see the juices.

  • Red Juice: Your beef roast is underdone or rare
  • Pink Juice: Your beef roast is medium-rare
  • Clear Juice: Your beef roast is medium
  • No Juice: Your beef roast is well done or overcooked.

  • How to carve roast beef

    Whether your roast is bone-in or out, you hold it steady with a long-handled fork. 
    Look for the direction of the grain, which is the direction of the muscle fibres. When carving roast beef, you always want to carve against the grain. By cutting against the grain, you make the fibres shorter, and the beef easier to chew. Cutting with the grain gives you a chewier piece of meat, which is less tender.

     

    Are you in the North Island? Buy a meat thermometer online.

    How to cook roast pork

    Roast pork is a delicious alternative to beef or chicken, and contrary to popular belief, can be just as succulent and delicious!

    Which cuts of pork are best for roasting?

    Without a doubt, the most popular cuts of pork for roasting are the loin and the leg. Bone left in or taken out, rolled up or whole, for a classic pork roast choosing leg or loin are safe bets.

    Fattier or tougher cuts of pork like shoulder, belly or cheek are better suited for slow-roasting. So if you’re choosing one of these cuts, make sure you allow for more cooking time.


    Cooking times for pork roasts

    While attitudes are changing towards how well-cooked pork needs to be, there is still a slight risk of illness from eating undercooked pork.

      Minutes per 500g   Internal Temperature of Cooked Pork
     Whole Fillet, Scotch Fillet, Rolled Leg  25 - 30 mins  71℃
     Leg 30 - 35 mins  71℃
     Loin, Shoulder 35 - 40 mins  71℃
     

    If you’re planning to cook the cracking on the roast, for the last 15 - 20 minutes  you’ll want to set the oven to grill to really make sure that crackling is crispy. Crackling is such an important part of the perfect pork roast so we’ll have more on that later.

    How to know when your pork is cooked

    While attitudes are changing towards how well-cooked pork needs to be, there is still a slight risk of illness from eating undercooked pork. It is totally fine to serve pork with a hint of pink - it will actually keep the meat far more succulent and tender.

    Check to see whether your pork is fully cooked with either a meat thermometer or by using a skewer. If you are using a thermometer, ensure the internal temperature is between 65℃ and 75℃. 

    If you’re using a skewer, you’ll know your pork roast is cooked when the juices that come out are clear or have only a slight pink hue.

    Covering your pork roast to make it even more tender

    One downside of roasting pork is that it has a tendency for drying out and shrinking. There are a number of ways you can trap in the moisture to make sure you can enjoy a juicy and tender pork roast every time.

    One solution is to cover the roasting dish in tin foil before placing it in the oven. The tin foil traps in the steam and prevents the roast from drying out. Another, slightly less typical idea, is to coat the roast in pears to help stop the pork from drying out.

    Are you in the North Island?

    Shop online for cuts of pork

    Let your pork rest

    Like beef, pork roasts continue to cook after you take them out of the oven to rest. So if you take it out of the oven when the meat is all white, you will end up with a very tough, dry pork roast.

    Instead, take it out of the oven when it is slightly pink, loosely cover it with foil and let it rest in a warm spot on your kitchen bench for 15minutes before carving and serving.

    What to cook with your pork roast

    Pork is such a versatile meat, and it can handle sweet as well as savoury flavours. Pork really shines when accompanied with winter vegetables like beetroot, kumara, carrots, parsnips or potatoes.

    Roast the vegetables in a separate tray to get a nice crispy finish, or use them to surround the pork so they absorb the roast meat flavours.


    Cooking perfect pork crackling

    Leaving the crackling on your pork roast (for pork belly in particular) will help to keep the meat juicy and tender as you cook it. However, for hassle free cooking, you can remove the layer of fat before roasting and cook it separately to ensure that perfect level of golden, crackly goodness.

    1. Pat down the skin with a paper towel to dry it off. You want to get as much of the moisture out so it dries nicely in the oven.
    2. Score the skin with a sharp knife, cutting slits every 1cm across. Don’t cut all the way down to the meat, just enough to help some of the fat escape.
    3. Brush the skin liberally with oil and season with salt, as this will render the fat and help it to blister. For best results, rub the oil and salt into the skin with your fingers.
    4. Next, just follow the cooking instructions or your recipe as you normally would. Make sure you rest the meat for 10 to 15 minutes before carving.

    How to cook roast lamb

    We are truly spoiled in New Zealand for the quality of our lamb. When cooked well, it should be tender and bursting with flavour. Delicious!

    The best lamb cuts for roasting

    If you’re planning a lamb roast, ask your local New World Butcher for a leg, shoulder or loin. 

    • Lamb leg
      If you’re expecting a lot of people over for a Sunday roast, a lamb leg will give you plenty of tender meat for everyone. It’s a popular cut with a lovely flavour, and because it’s very lean it cooks fast and is a good choice for a health conscious dinner.
    • Lamb shoulder
      Lamb shoulders are a slightly cheaper cut, because they’re a little fattier than lamb legs. Plus the bone running through lamb shoulders can make them difficult to carve. As your local New World Butcher for a boned and rolled cut of lamb shoulder, to make carving and serving your lamb roast easier.
    • Lamb loin
      On or off the bone, lamb loins are another lovely joint for roasting. Loins carry a little more fat than the leg, but not as much as the shoulder.

    How long to cook roast lamb

    Even before you start pre-heating your oven, take the joint of lamb out of the fridge about an hour before you want to cook it. Let it come up to room temperature before you pop it in the oven.

    When roasting lamb, it’s better to cook on the side of caution. Even if you like your lamb well done, you don’t want to leave it in the oven for so long that it becomes tough and chewy. Also, remember that if your lamb cut has the bone in, it will help to roast your lamb even faster 

       Minutes per 500g  Internal Temperature of Cooked Lamb
    Rare  20 - 25 mins  50℃
     Medium 25 - 30 mins  62℃
     Well Done 30 -35 mins  70℃

    Let your lamb rest

    When you’re planning what time to eat, factor in another fifteen minutes. Take the lamb roast out of the oven, and loosely cover the roasting tray in foil. Wait for fifteen minutes or so before carving.


    How to tell when your roast lamb is cooked

    You can always use a meat thermometer, and going by the recommended temperatures above you’ll know how cooked your lamb is.

    Another test is to press firmly on the outside of the roast with your finger. If the meat is firm but there’s a bit of give, it’s probably medium rare, a firmer touchtells you your roast is well done.


    Seasoning your roast lamb

    Lamb is so versatile and easy to roast. It lends itself to so many flavour combinations and  herbs and spices.

    Before seasoning your lamb, pat it down with a paper towel to make sure it’s dry. Next, score the outside of the meat using a sharp knife, making a series of shallow cuts about 3cm apart. Then you can rub in your favourite marinade or seasoning.

    Traditionally, rosemary goes very well with roast lamb, and this Marinated roast lamb with fresh mint topping takes those classic Kiwi flavours we’ve grown up with and takes them to the next level.

    If you like a bit of heat, and want to branch away from those traditional flavour combinations, this east meets west roast lamb recipe will get everyone talking. This Spiced lamb with sweet roasted vegetables recipe is like combining your favourite roast with an Indian curry. Tasty!

    Are you in the North Island?

    Shop for cuts of lamb online