by Terese Allen, Food Editor
What's the most nerve-wracking part of the holidays? For many novice cooks, it's preparing the main-dish meat. Roast turkey, baked ham, and beef rib roast are centerpiece presentations that come with high expectations. But, happily, they truly aren't tricky to execute. Here's a primer to help you get these classics just right.
Turkeys may be brined, barded or barbecued, stuffed or smoked, trussed or turned, but if this is your first time roasting one, skip the fancy footwork and go with the basics: Heat the oven to 350 degrees. Use paper towels to pat dry a fully defrosted, well-rinsed Organic Prairie Whole Young Turkey (12-18 pounds). Tie the leg ends together with kitchen string. Slather the turkey all over with melted Organic Valley European-Style Cultured Butter and season generously with salt and pepper. Place 2 onion halves and a few sprigs of fresh rosemary and sage inside the large cavity. Place the bird on a V-shaped or flat rack, legs up, inside a large, deep roasting pan.
Place the bird in the oven with the legs facing the back of the stove. Roast it 10-15 minutes per pound, drizzling it all over it every 30 minutes with additional melted butter or drippings from the bottom of the pan.
Meanwhile, to make broth for the gravy: Place the turkey neck in a saucepan with a peeled carrot, a halved onion (skin-on) and a parsley sprig; cover with water by one inch and simmer very slowly 2 hours.
The bird is done when an instant-read thermometer inserted into the thickest part of the thigh registers 160-165 degrees. Wearing oven mitts and using sturdy utensils, transfer the bird to a large platter or cutting board, cover it loosely with foil and let it rest at least 15 minutes, while you make the gravy.
For the gravy: Place the roasting pan over two burners set to medium. Strain the broth through a fine-mesh strainer into the pan (there should be about 3 cups total; if not, add canned chicken broth as needed). Bring to simmer, scraping up the flavorful bits from the bottom, and let it cook a few minutes, stirring often. To thicken the gravy: Combine 4 tablespoons flour and 6 tablespoons water in a jar; cover tightly and shake until smooth. Using a wire whisk, whisk half the flour mixture into the simmering liquid. Stir in any additional juices that have accumulated under the turkey. Whisk in additional flour mixture to thicken it as desired. Slowly simmer the gravy 10-15 minutes, stirring often. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Strain (or just pour) gravy into a serving bowl.
Carve the turkey and serve it with gravy. Makes enough for 8-12 guests, with leftovers.
Here's another great recipe: Brine Cured Roast Turkey with Maple Ginger Glaze.
Heat oven to 325 degrees. Place an Organic Prairie Hardwood Smoked Ham in a roasting pan and bake until instant-read thermometer inserted into the thickest part of the meat registers 140 degrees. It will take 10-12 minutes per pound. That's it!
For a glazed ham, use the tip of a sharp knife to score the fatty surface of the ham in a diamond pattern; insert a whole clove into each diamond and brush the ham with pure maple syrup, cranberry preserves or orange marmalade. Then bake as directed above. The sweet glaze makes a pleasing complement to the salty ham. A 5-pound boneless ham will yield 10 or more servings, with leftovers.
Here's another recipe: try an exotic Spiced Ham.
Purchase a 3- to 4-rib beef roast--also called a standing rib roast--that has been trimmed of excess fat (but not all of it). It should weigh 5-8 pounds. Remove roast from the refrigerator 1-2 hours before cooking and pat it dry with paper towels. Place it, bone side down, in a large roasting pan.
Heat oven to 450 degrees. Generously season the roast all over with salt and freshly ground black pepper. Roast it 15 minutes then reduce oven heat to 275 degrees. Continue to cook the beef until an instant-read thermometer inserted into its thickest part registers the desired doneness: 120-125 degrees for rare, 125-130 for medium-rare, and 135-145 for medium. (It will take 15-20 minutes per pound.)
Transfer roast to a cutting board and cover it loosely with foil. While meat is resting, spoon off all but a few tablespoons of the fat from the pan. Place pan over medium flame, add a cup or two of beef broth or red wine, and bring to simmer. Scrape up the tasty bits from the bottom of the pan. Simmer until liquid is reduced by half. Add salt and pepper, if needed. Cut the entire flesh portion of the roast away from the bones in one piece then slice it vertically into 1/4- to 1/2-inch-thick slices. Serve each portion with a little sauce drizzled over it. Makes 8 or more servings.