Roast Turkey with Wheat Seeds
Credit: Rachel Ham

What to do before you roast

On the surface, roasting meat seems a fairly easy process. Put the meat in a roasting pan, leave it in the oven for an hour or so, done. Well, not exactly. You could end up with a piece of leather or a hunk of mostly raw meat or a succulent, mouth-watering centerpiece for any special gathering.

An interesting side note on the word meat. Originally (from about 900 onwards) meat meant solid food, in general. Think nut meats. 1300 marks the time meat became synonymous with the flesh of animals.[5537]

Back to making the perfect roast. First, make sure your turkey, beef, lamb, pork, or chicken is thawed out. Second, take it out of the refrigerator for 10 minutes before roasting and bring it to room temperature. Third, leave a thin layer of fat on the outside of the meat for basting as it roast.[5538] If you are roasting poultry, gently loosen the skin and rub the breast with butter or olive oil to keep the meat juicy. Fourth, use a meat thermometer to make sure your oven is at the correct temperature. Fifth, dry the meat thoroughly before roasting; dry meat browns better.[5538]Finally, while your oven is preheating, season your roast liberally.

Roasting Times

A handy dandy chart

The key to a succulent, perfectly cooked roast is cooking the meat at a higher temperature in the beginning to seal in the juices.[5536] High temperatures (400°F and higher) speeds up browning of the meat surface, brings out the characteristic roasted flavor, and develops the crust or crisps the skin of poultry.[5537] After 15 minutes of higher temperatures, lower the temperature for the rest of the cooking time. This results in minimal loss of moisture and leads to a juicier roast.

Meat Temperature
for 1st 15 minutes

for rest of cooking

Minutes per lb. Seasoning suggestions
Beef 475°F 350°F 15 for rare
25 for well done
  • salt and pepper
Chicken 400°F 400°F 20 + an extra 30
minutes added.
  • salt and pepper
Lamb 475°F 400°F 12 for rare
20 for well done
  • salt and pepper
  • Dijon, rosemary, olive oil, and lemon juice
  • allspice, cinnamon, paprika, cloves, and salt
Pork 400°F 350°F 30
  • thyme, rosemary, olive oil, salt and pepper
  • garlic, oregano, salt and pepper
  • brown sugar, paprika, coriander, cumin, & chili
Turkey 450°F (for 30 minutes) 350°F 15
  • salt, pepper, rosemary, citrus fruits, onion, & celery

After you roast

Finishing off for perfection

Take the meat out of the oven and let it sit for 15 minutes before carving.[5536] This will help the juices go back in. Also, the meat will continue to cook for 5 minutes or so after you remove it from the oven. So, if you are checking the temperature of your roast, take it out a few degress lower than you would like, the roast will reach your desired temperature with resting.