Book Review: All About Roasting

By Sarah Strauss


There has been some great press lately about this book – and deservedly so!  Based on my transcendent experience with All About Braising, I pre-ordered my copy of All About Roasting, Molly Stevens’ latest cookbook, and waited breathlessly for it to arrive at my door.  Patience is not one of my great virtues, I’m afraid.

One of the many reasons that I love Molly Stevens is that she includes so much educational information in her books.  The recipes are fantastic, to be sure, but significant value is added to the experience of this book by fully reading the Introduction: The Principles of Roasting, before you start cooking.  This section covers a history of roasting, how roasting relates to baking, a description of the Maillard reaction, to presalt or not, the importance of resting, and an overview of the various types of pans and racks that can be used to roast.  The Introduction is thick, but don’t skip over it – there is a lot of important information to savor and digest inside.

In the body of the book, recipes are divided into sections based on the variety of meats or vegetables and fruits to be roasted.  We enjoyed beef dishes such as the Peppered Tri-Tip Roast and the Straight-Up Roast Beef. We loved the Roasted Rack of Lamb with Crunchy Mustard-Herb Crust especially.  The pork dishes we tried included delicious Spice-Crusted Pork Roast Tenderloin and Char Siu.

Not surprisingly, the Basic Roast Chicken and a Green Salad with a Vinaigrette Made From Pan Drippings was so perfectly simple but so meltingly elegant, as was the Skillet Roasted Chicken with Shredded Cabbage Slaw.  I’ve always been fond of pan drippings, but both of these recipes helped to strengthen that love even more.

We roasted up some Quick-Roasted Mushrooms with Pine Nuts and Parmesan, some Chile-Roasted “Candy” Corn, and multiple batches of Blasted Broccoli, with great pleasure.  Our meals were finished off with roasted fruits, such as the Brown-Sugar Roasted Pineapple, which was slurpingly good.

But the best recipes are the roasted shrimp dishes.  Surprisingly, shrimp tastes so much better roasted that I think we are spoiled now, and can only cook shrimp in this manner ever going forward.  The Herb-Roasted Shrimp with Pancetta and the Garlic Roasted Shrimp with Tomatoes, Capers and Feta are the two specific recipes we loved the most.  All you need to round out these dishes into a meal is some good bread and company.

As the kitchen fills with good smells and the oven maintains its glow, we find ourselves counting the minutes of the rest and waiting, our appetites whetted with anticipation, for what we know will be another delicious meal. Timing is everything and good things really do come to those who wait.

 “All About Roasting: A New Approach to a Classic Art” by Molly Stevens. Color Photographs by Quentin Bacon.  Wine Pairings by Tim Gaiser.  Published by W.W. Norton & Company, 2011. 573 pages.

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