As summer morphs into autumn, many of us find ourselves grilling less and roasting more. After all, grilling is a (mostly) outdoor activity, whereas roasting is a (mostly) indoor endeavor.
Roasting, unlike other cooking methods, allows the fat in the food to drip away, which means that in addition to producing attractive-looking and delicious dishes, it can be an effective tool when dieting. The method is similar to baking, but typically is done at higher temperatures.
Basically, roasting uses dry heat to cook the food, via an open flame, oven or other heat source. The food is placed on a rack, in a roasting pan or, for even application of heat, it may be rotated on a spit or rotisserie. Oven roasting ensures that all sides are cooked evenly because the hot air circulates around the meat.
When cooking large cuts of meat, turkeys or whole chickens, cooking at a low temperature — 200 to 325 degrees — is suggested. This is known as slow roasting.
Cooking at high temperatures is beneficial if the cut is small enough to be finished cooking before the juices escape.
And then there’s the combination method, which involves a low temperature for most of the cooking, and high heat at either the beginning or the end. This provides a golden brown color, texture and crust while retaining more of the moisture than when only a high temperature is used.
Because roasting tends to deepen the flavors of food, the best wine pairing partners tend to be deeply flavored varieties.
With the holidays coming up, turkey will start appearing on tables more often, perhaps in place of chicken. With either, the increased savory quality of the poultry calls for wine with savory characteristics — Syrah or Pinot Noir. A rich, buttery Chardonnay also is an excellent choice.
With fish dishes, we often recommend Sauvignon Blanc to complement the strong flavors of the food. But roasting tends to mellow out the “fishiness,” which means that Pinot Grigio (a.k.a. Pinot Gris) or a dry Riesling can be poured.
When it comes to wine pairing, it’s wise to pay attention not only to the flavors of the food, but also the preparation utilized.