Kitchen Focus

Since the official holiday season has come and gone, one might wonder if we're doomed to cold, gray days and boring menus until spring arrives. Well, if you have an oven, a shallow pan and a few basic ingredients, the answer is no. You can put a flavorful meal on the table and warm yourself on the inside and the outside ... 'cause this is roasting season! If the only thing you think of when you hear the term "roasting" is chestnuts and an open fire, you've got another think coming!

Roasting is a dry cooking method in which food releases its natural sugars when subjected to high, indirect heat. It can be used to cook anything from those famous root vegetables of winter to freshly-caught salmon. What's more, it tends to deepen the flavor of nearly all foods because it evaporates water -- which has never been known as a highly flavorful liquid -- and concentrates the natural flavors of food. It also caramelizes the sugars that are found in most foods, creating a beautiful crust on many foods.

This month, I'm sharing two of my favorite roasting recipes. The first is a recipe for Simple Roasted Potatoes. The key ingredients in this recipe are potatoes, olive oil and salt. That's it. You can tweak the remaining ingredients to suit your tastes or even omit them altogether. They make a terrific side dish for chicken, pork or beef. Actually, they are pretty darned good with just about anything!

Simple Roasted Potatoes

Choosing red skinned potatoes makes this dish even easier, because all they need is a quick scrubbing -- no peeling required!
  • 2 lbs. red-skinned potatoes
  • 1/4 c. olive oil
  • 1 T. coarse salt
  • 1/2 tsp. freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/2 tsp. crushed dried rosemary
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees.

Wash and scrub the potatoes. Cut each potato into bite-sized pieces. Place the potatoes in a large resealable plastic bag.

In a small bowl, combine the remaining ingredients. Stir to combine. Add the oil mixture to the potatoes, seal the bag and toss well to coat. Pour the contents of the bag into a 9x13-inch baking pan.

Roast the potatoes in the preheated oven for 20 minutes. Remove the potatoes, stir them and return them to the oven for another 20 minutes. Serve hot.

  • Yields: 4 servings
  • Preparation Time: 50 minutes

The second recipe I'm sharing is for a Honey-Mustard Pork Tenderloin. I like using the pork tenderloin because it's very lean, but also relatively small and therefore can benefit greatly from roasting without drying out. This particular recipe is wonderful when paired with sweet potatoes or winter squash.

Honey-Mustard Pork Tenderloin

By browning the tenderloin on the stove and then applying a glaze, the resulting crust is truly delicious.
  • 1.5 lbs. pork tenderloin
  • 2 T. olive oil, divided
  • 1/4 c. coarse mustard
  • 2 T. honey
  • 2 tsp. salt
  • 1/2 tsp. freshly ground black pepper

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees.

Brown the pork tenderloin on the stove in 1 tablespoon of the olive oil in an oven-proof sauté pan.

Meanwhile, combine the remaining olive oil, mustard, honey, salt and pepper in a small bowl. When the tenderloin has been browned, generously rub the glaze over the meat and place, uncovered, in the preheated oven. Roast for 15-20 minutes or until the glaze is bubbly and the meat is no longer pink in the center.

  • Yields: 3-4 servings
  • Preparation Time: 30 minutes

If there's a topic that you'd like to see covered in this column, let me know. You can always post comments in the discussion board using the forms provided in the articles or email me directly at .

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