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Roasting: A Simple Art Hardcover – December 1, 1995


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Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

Kafka believes in "hot ovens, short roasting times, and rare meat," so most recipes in this cookbook start with "heat oven to 500x F." The result is food with profound flavors that is sensible, even primal, yet has the flair you'd expect from an opinionated pro. Despite controversy over her recipe for roast turkey, this book so impressed her peers that they voted it a Julia Child Cookbook Award in 1995. Herbivores rejoice: There are over 100 mouth-watering recipes for vegetables and some fruits, too, along with those for roasted meats, poultry and fish.

From Publishers Weekly

The first hairy hominid who discovered that fire rewarded the successful hunter with sublime pleasures of taste and smell could not have foreseen that that first rack of mammoth's rib might lead to Kafka's King Mackerel with Jalape?o Lime Sauce. Although the fish and vegetable dishes (Roasted Yellow Squash in Mint Bath) are enticing, this book addresses most valuably the often dismissed appetites of meat and fowl lovers. Along with recipes for racks of lamb, rib roasts and holiday turkeys come others for pheasant ("with liver-rich dressing"), bison (best served "unbelievably rare") and wood pigeon (stuffed with grapes). There are recipes for leftovers (Chutney Chicken Salad) and invaluable tips on how roasting enhances a stock, how to deglaze and how to control oven temperature. Kafka (Microwave Gourmet) is big on using every useful bit of a beast: she happily describes, in detail, how to butcher a baby goat and what to do with its head (some stocks are richer than others). Less ambitious cooks might do better to start with Kathy Gunst's Roasting (see below), because Kafka is as serious about her cooking as that hominid was about hunting.
Copyright 1995 Reed Business Information, Inc.
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 452 pages
  • Publisher: William Morrow & Co.; 1st edition (December 1, 1995)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0688131352
  • ISBN-13: 978-0688131357
  • Product Dimensions: 8 x 1.4 x 10 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 2.7 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (45 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #547,117 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

The recipes are detailed and easy to follow.
Amazon Customer
When I first bought the book I roasted a lot of meat: pork loin, chickens, lamb shanks--all were excellent.
Tim Michael
Without doubt one of the best cookbooks I have ever read.
James J. Skelly

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

42 of 43 people found the following review helpful By mtspace on September 22, 2005
Format: Hardcover
Perhaps once in a decade there is a book which changes the way we think about cooking. Julia Child's introduction to French cooking did this in the 1960's and started culinary revolution in the United States that still rages. This book's influence may not be quite so profound, but it will forever change the way we think about roasting meats and vegetables. Or at least it ought to do so.

Kafka's implicit thesis is that it is the browning of meat and vegetables that imbues each with the rich 'meaty' flavor we love dearly. Most recipes for roasted meats fail to get the surface temperature high enough to cause browning. This means that almost every recipe for roasting chunks of meat at 350 F cheats both chef and diner. The solution to the problem is to crank up the temperature.

In my own oven, following Kafka's instructions will inevitably set off six smoke detectors, fog the house in thick smoke, and dispatch the local fire company. This is not how I wish to spend my mealtimes; for there is never enough food in the oven to feed them all. So I have adapted one or two recipes from this book. And in any month I will treat myself several times to a perfectly roasted chicken using one of these. (Click on my profile to reach the website that will soon have my favorite poultry recipes adapted from this book.)

Do not be put off by the fire alarm problems. Buy the book and try cooking at 425F or 450F instead of 500F. Make sure the bottom of the pan onto which the drippings fall is kept moist by covering it with vegetables of one kind or another during the entirety of the cooking process and that these same vegetables or a rack holds the meat out of the liquid. Do all these things and roasting will become a painless, economical and delicious way to prepare a meal. You will never look back.
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27 of 28 people found the following review helpful By Tim Michael on January 6, 2002
Format: Hardcover
When we moved to Asia last fall I had to get rid of half my cookbooks and many of my pans... but there was no way I was going to let go of "Roasting" or my non-stick roaster! I have roasted three Thanksgiving turkeys -- two fresh birds, as Kafka recommends, and one frozen (turkey's hard to come by in Taiwan) -- and all three came out BEAUTIFULLY. What was the brouhaha all about?
When I first bought the book I roasted a lot of meat: pork loin, chickens, lamb shanks--all were excellent. Now I find myself turning more often to the vegetable section; I especially like to roast a pan of mixed veggies (Kafka gives a table for timing them all perfectly) to serve as an appetizer and in my own recipe for a hearty, flavorful soup that even my vegan friends can enjoy. Her recipes for left-overs are so tempting I roast with a week's worth of meals in mind.
I have given this book as a gift, and shared recipes with guests who love the food. I have no complaints about the mess. Maybe it's my non-stick pan--cast-iron works great, too--but I have had no problem with too much smoke (a little is to be expected), encrusted pans, or a filthy oven afterwards.
If you like to cook, and if you like to serve and eat great meals even more, you have to try this one out. Kafka makes it fun & easy, and she makes you laugh -- I love this book.
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18 of 19 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on December 16, 1999
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
A few days ago I made the absolute best roast chicken I have ever had. My family raved about it. The butter-lemon-garlic inside the bird made it great. I made two together since one chicken is never enough if you want leftovers. The bad side is after back breaking scrubbing - my almost new oven is still dirty. A new professional Viking and NO self cleaning! I loved the chicken but don't think I can go through this hard work every time. I still don't know what else to try to clean off what's left in there. She recommends lining the bottom of the oven with foil but the Viking info I have says NOT to do that. Has anyone else lined the bottom of their oven with foil and not had problems with heat distribution? I also made the New York Strip Roast and that too was out of this world.
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12 of 12 people found the following review helpful By J. C. Cabanillas III on November 26, 2001
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I learned to cook in my teenage years, and learned a lot of things from my parents, my grandmother, and from cookbooks. However, I have never come across a cookbook that changed my outlook on cooking more than this one. After hearing Barbara Kafka on the radio, I bought a copy as an impulse buy. After reading the book and trying out a couple of recipies, I was hooked. It is the only cookbook that I proselytize about, and I have provided copies to several family members and friends. Perfect meats and vegetables - every time. Juicier meat than I ever had been able to cook in the oven before. A profound change in the way I prepare foods.
Try it - you will never look at your oven in the same way again.
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12 of 12 people found the following review helpful By James J. Skelly on January 20, 2000
Format: Hardcover
Without doubt one of the best cookbooks I have ever read. And I mean READ. Kafka's writing style is as comforting as the food she teaches you to prepare. The roast chicken, lamb, rib roast (rare, but not Saxon pillage), beef fillet...one better than the next. Makes a bit of a mess but cooking is an art and some energy needs to be expended. Lent the book to a friend about a month ago. I think she changed her phone number so I couldn't call her to get it back!
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