Holiday Meat Cooking Instructions


Hol­i­day Ham:

The smoky, salty pork­i­ness of a ham, paired with the sweet­ness of a good glaze is the sen­so­ry def­i­n­i­tion of a hol­i­day feast. The sight and smell of a glazed hol­i­day ham exudes cel­e­bra­tion.

Pre­heat oven to 375F. Lay a large piece of alu­minum foil on a work sur­face. Lay a large sheet of foil across to form a cross. Place the ham in the cen­ter and cov­er with the glaze of your choice. I usu­al­ly do a sim­ple mix of brown sug­ar and bour­bon, but I’ve seen recipes using crushed pineap­ple, pep­per jel­ly, cider, and count­less oth­er sticky, spicy com­bi­na­tions.

Gath­er up the foil so the ham is com­plete­ly encased and place the par­cel in a roast­ing tin. Add about an inch of liq­uid (any­thing from water to pork stock to bour­bon to Dr. Pep­per or 7Up). Roast for 45 min­utes-1 hour or until the ham is hot all the way through. Tear away the foil and roast for anoth­er 20 min­utes or until the glaze has formed a bub­bly, sticky crust.

Place slices of ham on a plat­ter and serve with the pan juices on the side.


Rack of Lamb

There are so many ways to cook a rack of lamb, though most recipes advise a scorch­ing, hot sear fol­lowed by a lit­tle jaunt in a hot oven. I dis­agree. If I can’t grill my rack of lamb, and in Chica­go, grilling in win­ter can be a chal­lenge, I like to roast them slow­ly with herbs, gar­lic and a healthy amount of but­ter


Leg of Lamb:

Leg of lamb is an amaz­ing roast with tons of fla­vor that is far less intim­i­dat­ing to cook than peo­ple think. It has a rep­u­ta­tion for being ‘gamey’ or ‘funky,’ but a lamb roast from a great farm won’t have those char­ac­ter­is­tics. Lamb lends itself to strong fla­vors, so be aggres­sive and cre­ative when sea­son­ing. I love the clas­sic com­bi­na­tion of gar­lic, rose­mary, black pep­per, and lemon (and anchovies mashed to a paste if you real­ly want to go for it) or for some­thing more exot­ic, a Moroc­can spice blend like Ras el Hanout mixed with orange zest or pre­served lemon and sea salt, though an aggres­sive rub with just sea salt and pep­per will result in a won­der­ful roast that real­ly shows off the qual­i­ty of good lamb.

The night before your par­ty, rub the lamb all over with extra vir­gin olive oil. Sea­son aggres­sive­ly with salt and what­ev­er else you choose. Place on a rack in a roast­ing tin, cov­er with plas­tic and refrig­er­ate overnight.

Pre­heat your oven to 450F. Roast the lamb for 15–20 min­utes or until it is start­ing to get nice­ly browned. Reduce the heat to 375. If you are roast­ing a tied, bone­less roast, con­tin­ue to cook for anoth­er hour (add an addi­tion­al 20–30 min­utes if you chose a bone in roast) or until an instant read ther­mome­ter reads 130F in the thick­est part of the roast. This will yield a pink, juicy roast. If you pre­fer your roast a bit more done, cook to 135. Remove roast to a carv­ing board and rest for 10–15 min­utes. I pre­fer the dra­ma and excite­ment of carv­ing a bone in roast at the table, but pink slices of beau­ti­ful­ly roast­ed lamb arranged on a plat­ter will make a stun­ning cen­ter­piece.



If you are brin­ing your turkey, do so the day before roast­ing,  but not longer than that. You don’t want your turkey tast­ing like ham…

Pre­heat your oven to 500 F.

Pat your turkey dry and rub with a few drops of olive oil.  If you didn’t brine your turkey (That’s ok. I rarely brine my thanks­giv­ing turkey, and I’m the butch­er…) sprin­kle lib­er­al­ly with kosher salt. You can grind some pep­per over the bird as well, but just salt is fine.  I like to mix soft­ened but­ter with herbs and sea salt and stuff it under the skin of the bird, but that too is option­al.

Place the bird on a rack, or on some sliced onions and cel­ery ribs. I usu­al­ly add a few thyme branch­es as well. Place a probe ther­mome­ter in the meaty part between the thigh and breast and roast at 500 F for about 25 min­utes or until the breast starts to blush a light gold­en brown. Turn the oven down to 325 and con­tin­ue to roast until the ther­mome­ter reg­is­ters 158 F. An aver­age sized turkey (14–16 lbs will take about 2 ½ — 3 hours). Remove the turkey from the pan and let rest for at least 20 min­utes on a carv­ing board.

Note: I like to cook my turkey very ear­ly in the day and let it rest until it is room tem­per­a­ture. After my guests oooh and aaah­hh at the beau­ti­ful bird, I remove the breasts whole and slice them and remove the leg quar­ters and sep­a­rate the drum­sticks from the thighs. After all my oth­er food is hot and ready, I put the carved pieces back in the oven to reheat (Turn the oven back to 425 and the turkey should be pip­ing hot and still moist and juicy in about 8–10 min­utes). Arrange the slices and leg pieces art­ful­ly on a plat­ter and serve. 


Whole Duck

A whole roast­ed duck is a sight. Bur­nished, amber skin, crispy fat and earthy, pink meat that pair so well with any com­bi­na­tion of sweet, sour and salty you can think of. My favorite mem­o­ry of eat­ing duck is of one roast­ed whole on a spit and served with pota­toes and squash roast­ed in the drip­pings with herbs and orange zest and lit­tle figs stuffed with gor­gonzo­la that were warmed just enough to make the fill­ing oozy and the figs sup­ple. I can still smell this meal and it will for­ev­er be the aro­ma of win­ter.

Duck is such a gen­er­ous ani­mal. It offers a lux­u­ri­ous meal for 4–6 peo­ple, but yields plen­ty of deca­dent fat for meals to come.

Pre­heat oven to 350F. Ask your butch­er to trim the excess fat and skin from the cav­i­ty and neck area and to light­ly score the skin all over. If you choose to do this your­self, use a thin, razor-sharp knife and do not cut all the way down to the meat. 

Sea­son the duck all over with salt and place on a roast­ing rack breast side down. Place the rack in a roast­ing pan with a about an inch of water on the bot­tom. Roast the ducks until they reach 135F, about 45 min­utes to an hour. Remove from the oven. While the ducks are rest­ing, Turn your oven up to 450. Pour off the ren­dered fat from the roast­ing pan and reserve. Put the ducks back in and roast for 10–15 min­utes. Flip the duck breast side up and roast anoth­er 10 min­utes or until all the skin is a deep amber col­or. Remove from the oven and rest about 10 min­utes.


Stand­ing Rib Roast / Bone­less Rib Roast:


The day before, sea­son the roast all over with a lot of salt- an uncom­fort­able amount of salt, real­ly- and set the roast on a rack in a roast­ing tin. Cov­er with plas­tic and refrig­er­ate overnight. If you can’t do this the day before, sea­son the roast as far in advance of cook­ing as pos­si­ble, though if your only option is right before cook­ing, don’t wor­ry- it’ll still be an amaz­ing piece of meat.

Pre­heat oven to 450F. Wrap a lit­tle piece of alu­minum foil around the frenched tips of the ribs to pre­vent scorch­ing in the oven. Scat­ter a few rose­mary and thyme branch­es around the roast along with a few peeled whole shal­lots (option­al, but a nice touch) and place in the oven. After 25–30 min­utes, the roast should be nice­ly browned and very aro­mat­ic. Turn the oven down to 275 and con­tin­ue to roast for anoth­er 1–1½ hours or until an instant read ther­mome­ter insert­ed reg­is­ters 120 F (for medi­um rare, cook to 130 for medi­um) and remove from the oven. Trans­fer roast to a plat­ter or carv­ing board and let rest for about 10 min­utes with the ribs point­ing up. Remove foil and carve down along the bones to remove the meat. Slice thin and arrange fes­tive­ly on a plat­ter. Or- slice between the bones for mas­sive, dra­mat­ic steaks to share. Sea­son the cut side of the meat with some fan­cy sea salt and a few twists of black pep­per.
*Note: For a Bone­less Roast, do every­thing exact­ly the same. It will just take a lit­tle less time to cook. Plan on 45 min­utes to 1 hour after the oven sear depend­ing on how done you like your meat.



Beef Ten­der­loin Roast:

Few things say lux­u­ry like a plat­ter of ruby-red slices of beef ten­der­loin. Because it is so vel­vety-ten­der, it doesn’t have the explo­sive­ly beef fla­vor of a stand­ing rib, but it car­ries oth­er fla­vors well, so invest some time in a fra­grant rub replete with herbs and spices. I like to mix salt with chopped fresh rose­mary, thyme and pars­ley, lots of coarse­ly ground black pep­per, corian­der seed, gar­lic pow­der and chili flakes, though a qual­i­ty sea salt and fresh ground black pep­per will work great on a great piece of beef.

Pre­heat oven to 375F. Rub a thin lay­er of olive oil all over the ten­der­loin. Sea­son lib­er­al­ly with salt and pep­per or the sea­son­ing mix of your choice and place on a rack in a roast­ing tin. Place in the oven and roast for 25 min­utes. The roast should have a nice brown col­or. Turn and con­tin­ue to roast so the oth­er side browns, about anoth­er 15–20 min­utes. For a rare roast, cook until an instant read ther­mome­ter reads 120F in the thick­est part. Cook to 125 for medi­um rare and 130 for medi­um. Remove the roast to a carv­ing board and let rest for about 10 min­utes. Carve thin slices and arrange onto a plat­ter. Sea­son the slices with sea salt or more of your sea­son­ing mix.


Pork Rib Roast:

A pork rib roast is an impres­sive cen­ter­piece, but the true won­der of pork is its bal­ance of robust, porky savory-ness and its abil­i­ty to absorb and showoff oth­er fla­vors. A deli­cious blank can­vass. I like to mix salt, ground fen­nel seed (or fen­nel pollen if you can find it), ground black pep­per, chopped thyme and rose­mary, and the zest of a cou­ple of oranges. Quan­ti­ties can vary accord­ing to taste, but I like a ratio of 1 part salt, ¼ part pep­per and ½ part every­thing else. If you are, how­ev­er, a purist, just good, qual­i­ty sea salt will be deli­cious.

If you’ve opt­ed to leave the skin on your roast, score it in an attrac­tive cross-hatch pat­tern just through the skin, but not too deep into the fat. If you didn’t want the skin on your roast, I’d still sug­gest scor­ing the lay­er of fat if, for no oth­er rea­son than aes­thet­ics. It looks fan­cy and this is, after all, the hol­i­days.

The day before your hol­i­day soirée, rub the roast all over with sea­son­ing mix. Place on a rack in a roast­ing tin and cov­er with plas­tic. Refrig­er­ate overnight.

Pre­heat oven to 275F. Roast for about 1 ½ — 2 hours or until an instant read ther­mome­ter reads 125F in the thick­est part of the roast. This will result in a roast with a blush of pink in the mid­dle. If you like your pork cooked more, cook to 135F.At this point, the skin (if intact) should be very soft and the fat should be wob­bly and soft. Turn the heat to 450 and con­tin­ue to roast until the skin is crack­ly-crispy and/or the fat is a deep gold­en-brown. Remove roast to a carv­ing board and rest for about 10 min­utes. Carve down along the bones to remove the meat. Slice thin and arrange fes­tive­ly on a plat­ter. Or, for a more dra­mat­ic pre­sen­ta­tion, slice between the bones for dra­mat­ic look­ing chops. Sea­son the cut side of the meat with some fan­cy sea salt or more of your sea­son­ing mix.

*Note: If roast­ing a bone­less pork roast, pro­ceed as above but short­en the cook time to 45 min­utes- 1 1/4 hours.