If you’re the designated cook in your family, you’re probably pretty familiar with the pinnacle of the traditional holiday dinner: the roast. There are plenty of tasty side dishes to enjoy, but they’re really there to back up the star of the meal.
The unfortunate thing is that a holiday roast is very easy to mess up — or even just make mediocre. And while any roast is better than no roast, you undoubtedly want to make this centerpiece of your meal the best it can possibly be.
Here are four easy tips, courtesy of our friends at Food52, to help you make this year’s holiday roast your best ever.
1. Chill Out
Season your roast with salt up to a day in advance, then let it set in the fridge. Letting it sit at this lower temperature will ensure that the surface of the roast is dry, which will lead to more even, crisp, and browned exterior.
And, let’s face it, that perfectly roasted, flavorful skin is what pulls your whole roast together.
2. Add Fruit
It might seem weird, but adding fruit to your roast can bring a whole new level of flavor to this classic dish. The heat of the oven concentrates fruit’s sweetness into a thick, jam-like sauce that perfectly pairs with the salty, savory flavors of a roast.
3. Treat Your Oven Like a Grill
To evenly cook your roast, throw out the pan and V-rack. Position your oven racks about two inches apart toward the upper part of the oven, then cover the bottom rack with foil. Place a pan filled with aromatics or any flavorings you prefer on the foiled rack and place your roast (which should be covered in oil for an even, crispy cook) directly on the top rack.
With this technique, all of the meat then gets heat circulation, including from the bottom — which means you won’t need to turn it at any point. Plus, you can still make a good sauce with the drippings! Doesn’t get better than that.
4. Let the Roast Sit
One of the biggest mistakes you can make with a roast is carving it before it’s had a chance to rest. It’s best to let a finished roast sit undisturbed for up to 30 minutes before carving; this will let the moisture reabsorb and redistribute throughout the meat.
You’ll have to be patient, sure, but you’ll be rewarded with the juiciest roast ever. We think it’s a pretty fair trade-off.