Drizzly skies and chilly temperatures are a great excuse to turn on the oven, warm up the house and cozy up to some succulent dishes made with the world's oldest cooking method -- roasting.
The great thing about roasting is that it's easy. You throw ingredients in a pan, slide it into the oven, and stir only occasionally. It brings out the best in food, sealing in flavor, tenderness and juiciness.
When roasting, use heavy metal roasting pans rather than light ones, which can warp at high heat. In general, roast on the middle rack of the oven, where temperatures are more even.
And remember that foods roasted at high temperatures,
especially meat and poultry, will continue to cook after being removed from the oven, so let them stand, tented loosely with foil to keep the heat in, for 10 to 15 minutes, so the juices settle back into the meat.
Warm up your house and your appetite with these recipes from "Reasons to Roast" (Chapters-Houghton Mifflin, $15) by Georgia Chan Downard, culinary director of the Television Food Network, and Evie Righter, a cookbook editor.
Pork Sausages Roasted With Onions and Apples
1 1/2 pounds sweet Italian sausages, lightly pricked with a fork
2 cups sliced onions
2 McIntosh apples, cored, halved and thickly sliced
3 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
L 1 tablespoon minced fresh sage or 1 teaspoon dried, crumbled
salt and freshly ground black pepper
3 tablespoons minced fresh parsley
Preheat the oven to 425 degrees. Lightly oil a roasting pan. Place the sausages in roasting pan and roast, turning occasionally, for 20 minutes. Meanwhile, combine the onions and apples with the butter in a large bowl, toss to coat and season with the sage and salt and pepper to taste. Pour off the fat from the roasting pan and add the apple mixture to the pan, scattering it around the sausages. Roast, stirring occasionally, for 20 minutes more, or until the juices run clear when the sausages are pricked with a fork and the onions and apples are golden. Transfer to a large serving platter and sprinkle with the parsley.
Roasted Broccoli With Lemon Garlic Butter and Toasted Pine Nuts
1 pound broccoli florets (from one 1 1/4-pound bunch)
2 tablespoons olive oil
salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 teaspoon minced garlic
1/2 teaspoon grated lemon zest
1 to 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
2 tablespoons pine nuts (toasted in a small, dry skillet over medium heat for 3 to 5 minutes)
Preheat oven to 500 degrees. In a large bowl, toss the broccoli with the oil and salt and pepper to taste. Arrange florets in a single layer on a baking sheet and roast, turning once, for 12 minutes, or until just tender.
Meanwhile, in a small saucepan, melt the butter over medium heat. Add the garlic and the lemon zest and heat, stirring, for about 1 minute. Let cool slightly and stir in the lemon juice. Place the broccoli in a serving bowl, pour the lemon butter over it and toss to coat. Scatter the toasted pine nuts over the top.
Roasted Figs With Mascarpone
12 firm but ripe figs, such as Calimyrna, halved
2 to 3 tablespoons sugar
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
3 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 cup ruby port
1/2 cup mascarpone (or ricotta or creme fraiche, sweetened with sugar to taste)
1/4 cup sliced blanched almonds, toasted in small, dry skillet over medium heat for about 3 minutes, for garnish
Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Butter a shallow flameproof baking dish large enough to hold the figs in a single layer. Arrange the figs, cut side up, in the baking dish, sprinkle with the sugar and cinnamon and dot with the butter. Roast for 10 to 15 minutes, or until heated through. Transfer the figs to a platter. Place the baking dish over high heat, add the port and bring to a boil, boiling for 1 minute, scraping the bottom of the baking dish. Pour the liquid over the figs and cool to room temperature.
To serve, divide the figs with their liquid among 4 goblets, top with the mascarpone, ricotta or creme fraiche, and sprinkle with the almonds, if desired.
Pub Date: 1/13/98