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Need Roast Ideas (Pork, Beef, etc.) for Dinner Party

  • l

It's just a small dinner (5 of us), but I'm newly married and I've never actually attempted a "roast" like this. I don't know my standing rib roast from my beef tenderloin, so I'd love to get some ideas from you folks. Just a few specifications:

-I'm interested in pork or beef, but preferably not a cut that's going to be ridiculously expensive.

-Nothing too rich or saucy or heavy

-I'd love ideas that use flavor combinations that aren't too stodgy.. Spice is good! But you know what, I'm flexible on this one.

I'm open to all cuisines. Send me your favorite recipes!


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  1. Mark Bitman has a fabulous roast pork recipe in _How to Cook Anything_ that has a lot of garlic and sage. I made it for Christmas Eve and it was a huge hit and very easy to do.

    I'd highly recommend investing in an instant-read thermometer - they're easy to use and they'll help you cook the roast perfectly.

    2 Replies
    1. re: gansu girl

      Mark Bittman's book, How to Cook Everything,is a good investment for anyone who is "starting out" as a cook and entertainer. His recipes are well-written.

      1. re: gansu girl

        I'll second (or third) this recommendation, and add that if you do want to do lots of roasts, the thermometers with a probe that you leave in the roast, and connect to a unit with an alarm that stays outside the oven are great, too.

      2. In my opinion, there's nothing more delicious than a standing rib roast. Unfortunately, it does tend to be an expensive cut of meat, but if you are having a dinner party and you want your guests to enjoy what you serve them, you cannot skimp on the cut of meat. If you buy a cheap cut of meat, it's not going to be as tender as a rib roast, and the end result suffers greatly. Plus, because a rib roast is such a flavorful cut, you really don't have to do much to it for a perfect result. Preparing it is almost idiot-proof.

        Here's my recipe for a great rib roast.

        Rub all sides of the meat with salt (preferably Kosher salt) and pepper. Heat a large skillet and sear the meat on all sides. Place it into a roasting pan and use a meat thermometer to be sure that the meat is cooked the way you like it. I can attest to the fact that most people like it rare (pink) rather than well done. I roast mine at 375 degrees.

        IMPORTANT: Do NOT cut the meat right out of the oven. Cover it with foil and let it stand for at least 20 minutes before slicing into it.

        By the way, when you are finished searing the meat in the frying pan, use wine or water to deglaze the pan and reduce over the heat till it thickens. Put about 2 tablespoons of butter in at the end and after it melts you have the MOST delicious gravy.

        2 Replies
        1. re: Userfriend

          Beef tenderloin, a whole one from costco or sams club will run aroung 65 bucks. Sear it off and roast at 350f until you have reached 120f internal. Pull and let rest for 30 minutes. See the photo, a picture is worth a 1000 words


          Image: http://www.allsmokedup.com/Quickstart...

          1. re: CTChef

            All Smoked Up
            Love your picture!
            I am having 20 ppl for a sitdown on Friday and will buy the beef tenderloin on Thursady to marinade. What do you think and how much should I get? Sam's Club said they will trim/cut, etc for me
            Was thinking of the following....
            /2 c soy sauce
            1/4 c balsamic vinegar
            8 cloves garlic
            4 tsp rosemary
            1/2 c oil
            1 T pepper
            5 lb tenderloin

            500 for 15 min
            375 for 20 mins
            Let stand 20 mins

        2. Barefoot contessa has a great recipe for mustard/garlic/thyme/pepper rubbed pork loin over roasted onion, fennel, carrot and potato. This is a cheaper cut of meat and can usually be found on sale if you watch for it. Agree that meat thermometer is a must. The really great thing about this one is that you get the meat, starch and veggies in one pan, with minimal last minute fuss, so that you can enjoy your guests.

          1 Reply
          1. re: WJ

            I second the Barefoot Contessa's Roast Porkloin with Fennel. It's easy, inexpensve, and makes for great presentation on a large platter.nd with the veggies all done with the roast, clean up is a breeze.

          2. I've posted this recipe before, but I think it's really tasty and looks impressive. It's also pretty versatile, so it's easy to come up with side dishes that go along with it. (And pork tenderloin is super cheap right now!)

            Apricot-Stuffed Pork Tenderloin

            ½ cup dried apricots, chopped
            2 tablespoons finely chopped onion
            3 tablespoons butter, plus additional as needed
            1-1/2 cups soft white bread crumbs
            1 teaspoon dried parsley
            ¼ teaspoon salt
            ¼ teaspoon dried thyme
            2 pork tenderloins (approximately ¾ pound each)
            Ground black pepper to taste

            Preheat the over to 325 degrees. Cover the apricots with cold water and heat until boiling. Cover and reduce the heat. Simmer until tender 5-10 minutes. Drain.

            Sauté the onion in 3 tablespoons butter until soft, about 5 minutes. Add the crumbs, parsley, salt, and thyme. Toss lightly to combine; mix in the cooled apricots.

            Slit the tenderloins lengthwise, not quite through. Lay the tenderloins flat and spread one with half the apricot mixture. Roll lengthwise, jellyroll fashion. Tie to secure. Place on rack in small pan and spread with butter or margarine. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Bake for 1 to 1-1/4 hours, basting occasionally.

            1. f

              This weekend, I made the slow roasted pork shoulder recipe that was published last year in the LA Times food section and declared one of their top 10 recipes of 2005 (link to one of the discussions below, and one of the posts contains the recipe). It meets all of your requirements -- pork shoulder is a very inexpensive cut and even at San Francisco fancy butcher prices was less than $4 per pound. The meat is meltingly tender after 8 hours but still sliceable, but if you let it go the full 10 hours it will fall apart more, like a pulled pork consistency. the meat is not too rich or too heavy.

              I made a salsa verde sauce to go with it, but it would be fine with just the pan juices (skimmed of some of their fat). The spicing (fennel, garlic, chile peppers) is definitely not stodgy!

              Link: http://www.chowhound.com/topics/show/...

              2 Replies
              1. re: farmersdaughter

                Be sure to cover it during the long roast. My failure to include this instruction earlier led to a couple of questions.

                1. re: farmersdaughter

                  Just curious if you happened to take the internal temp. when it was taken out of oven? Zuni mock porchetta is done around 185F, and I was curious how high the temp. would be for the low and slow method. You're right, it's an inexpensive cut. I got mine on sale at my butcher's for around $2/lb.

                  To the OP: I agree that porchetta is a good place to start. Rib roast suggested by others is fattier in the end result and def. not cheap. Another option is pork loin, which is significantly leaner than shoulder, but it can make for a lovely presentation for guests and doesn't take all day to cook. You can even stuff it w/ fresh or dried fruit or some sort of bread stuffing. Season w/ bold flavors if you like. Good luck!

                2. Interested in a great leg of lamb recipe?

                  1. Easiest roast I have ever made that has impressed.

                    Recently this worked for a 7 and 1/2 lb. pork roast, so adjust as you see fit for taste and qunatity.

                    1 jar appricot preserves (the average size of jar);
                    1 jar coarsely ground mustard (about the size of a jar of grey poupon, but I like something plainer and coarser);
                    1/2 cup whole apricots;
                    1/2 cup pecans; and
                    1 pork roast.

                    Chop the apricot and pecan, seperately. Mix the preserves and mustard, to taste. Slather the mixture over the roast until covered. Use a lot. Srpinkle nuts and apricots over the roast. Stick it in the oven at 350 until done.

                    Very simple, and it gets raves. I used a boneless center loin, but any pork roast will do. I've made it with other cuts. It says moist under the apricot mustard glaze (if you can call it that) and the glaze and stuff forms a nice crust.

                    1. One of very first and successfully memorable dinners I served for my husbands boss and his wife, was a filet mignon roast rolled in butter, fresh parsley and cracked pepper,
                      served with Bernaise Sauce roasted- very med rare - delicious!
                      Served with creamed spinach and garlic, twice stuffed potatoes a salad with butter lettuce, red onion, and tangerines with a sweet an sour sauce/ and raspberry sorbet for dessert.

                      1. Here is an amazing rub to put on nearly any beef roast:

                        1 T olive oil, 1 T dijon mustard, 1 T brown sugar, 1 T bbq sauce, 1 T fresh rosemary, 1 T fresh thyme (sub 1/3 amount of dry spice if you don't have fresh), 3 minced cloves of garlic, 1.5 t sea salt and about 1.5 t crushed pepper

                        It smells AMAZING. Cook roast to your liking, and to make gravy, (while roast rests), just add some red wine, beef broth and a bit of cornstarch and boil away. It is delicious. :)

                        1. Zuni Mock Porchetta, for sure. It'll give you the non-stodgy fabulous flavor combination, and is wildly impressive. Also good because the prep happens waaay in advance, so you're free to enjoy your own party.
                          Do a search on this board - we've talked about it ALOT and linked the the recipe.

                          1. I've done a version of the mock porchetta for just me and my husband. It's very easy for a beginner.

                            And the pork loin is my new favorite thing. You can do anything to it, as long as you have a thermometer to pull it out when it's done.

                            Last week I used a recipe from Bittman that involved spearing a hole in the loin with a knife steel, then stuffing the hole with prunes and apricots. I think the fruit overwhelmed the meat a little, but it was still great. And looks so pretty when you slice it.

                            2 Replies
                            1. re: Sarah McC

                              I've done a recipe for a stuffed loin similar to what you're describing, but stuffed with a mixture of chopped garlic, sage, and rosemary--that worked really well with the meat, and infused it with flavor from the inside.

                              1. re: Nettie

                                That sounds more my speed. I'm still trying to figure out the savory fruit dishes. I like them in theory, but not as much in execution.

                            2. For something different, I love stuffed turkey breast. I get a boned and butterflied turkey breast, retaining the skin. Line it with prociutto, fresh rosemary and garlic--oh yes salt and pepper the meat before doing this. Roll up the meat long ways, skin side out and tie up roast. Brown in frying pan and roast for about an hour. Juices should run clear. Slice and serve with potatoes roasted in the pan with the turkey. Watch the salt since the prociutto is salty.