Salt added to the surface of meat just before roasting will penetrate the meat only a fraction of an inch during cooking.The same is true of the flavors of herbs, spices, and aro-matics. In the case of smaller cuts of meat, such as beef tenderloin or rack of lamb, the seasoned, browned crust that forms during roasting is an important part of the flavor of the finished dish. Although opinions vary,many chefs advocate seasoning such roasts immediately before roasting so the salt doesn't have time to draw moisture to the sur-face,which inhibits browning.
In the case of large roasts, such as beef ribs and steamship rounds, there is so little crust in proportion to meat that seasoning before roasting has little effect. Also, if the surface of the roast is mostly fat covering or bone, the seasoned fat and bones may not even be served, so the seasoning has little effect.
With roasts of any size,two alternatives to seasoning just before roasting are often used:
• Marinate the meat or apply seasonings in advance, to give the time for flavors to penetrate. See page 141 for a discussion of marinades and dry seasoning rubs.
• Serve the meat with a flavorful sauce,gravy, or jus.The sauce serves as a seasoning and flavoring for the meat.
Another way to add flavor to roasted meats is to smoke-roast them. Commercial smoker ovens roast meats in the same way as conventional ovens, except that they also have a smoke-generating unit that passes smoke through the oven chamber, flavoring foods as they cook.The flavor of wood smoke in cooked meats is so popular that some restaurants have even installed wood-burning hearth ovens to bake and roast meats, pizza, and other items.
Stovetop smoke roasting is an alternative to smoker ovens.The procedure is explained on page 71.Although there are no recipes for smoke-roasted meats in this chapter, examples of smoke-roasted fish and poultry can be found on pages 374 and 462.
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