Nina’s Tips & Techniques: The Holidays featuring the Holiday Roast

OMG – My recipe says “tie the roast”… WHAT DOES THIS MEAN? Am I going to ruin the holiday meal?

Don’t freak out… it’s simpler than you think!

First, let’s understand why you might want to tie a roast in the first place. Think about the shape of a beef tenderloin, for example – it is skinny on one end and thicker on the other, with two flaps at the top of the chateau. If you put this whole thing in your oven the skinny part will cook faster than the thicker part – so part of your roast will be overcooked and the other part will be undercooked. Now imagine you could fold in the skinny end and control the chateau, to make one uniform looking piece of meat that cooks evenly all the way through… THIS is why you tie a roast! You might also tie a roast if it is stuffed or rolled – tying it will keep the stuffing in and everything in place when you go to cook it.

Butchers use fancy techniques to tie roasts, but you don’t need to get fancy to tie a roast too. Just get some basic butcher’s twine and cut 4-6 short pieces, long enough to go all the way around your roast. Lie them down parallel to each other, about 2 inches apart. Place the roast on top of the strings perpendicularly  so they stick out on both sides. Now fold or arrange your roast exactly how you want it. I always tie the fly away areas first. Just draw the two ends of each string up and tie them in a firm double knot – don’t worry about squeezing the meat – the point is to tie it up tightly. Trim the ends of the strings with scissors. You’re done!

I’m interested in doing a stuffed roast, but it seems really intimidating… is this something that should be reserved for the pros??

I am confident anyone can stuff a roast! Especially now that you know how to tie one! The single trickiest part of doing a stuffed roast is cutting it… but hey, the worst thing that could happen is you cut it in half. This is not the end of the world – you can just tie it back together! Place the roast on the cutting board with the long end facing away from you. Hold your knife parallel to the meat and make long, sweeping cuts down the side of the roast, using your other hand to peel back the part you have already cut so you can see what you are doing. Keep cutting until it folds open neatly like a book. Some people also choose to pound out their meat a bit at this stage. Stuff filling inside, fold it back up, tie it with the above technique, and voila! Be confident and HAVE FUN!


Featured Recipe: Herb-Crusted Beef Tenderloin