Why Fat Is Essential When Roasting Just About Any Food

Roasting meat or vegetables can be intimidating. If you're newer to cooking, it might feel more comfortable to sauté your ingredients in a pan where you are watching the entire cooking process and can adjust the heat as your ingredients cook. Roasting is a whole different ball game. The idea of putting ingredients into the oven at a high temperature and walking away might give even the most experienced cooks a few jitters.

The key when roasting is to have good tools on hand like a meat thermometer and a trusty timer (per The Spruce Eats). The other big secret is to make sure your ingredients have enough fat in or on them. When the fat-to-ingredient ratio is handled with care, you can expect to have delicious eats that are well caramelized and bursting with flavor. At this point it may almost be second nature to drizzle oil or butter over vegetables or meat before roasting, but why is it such an important part of the process? 

Roasting with fat like a pro

Having enough fat on or in your ingredients when you roast them is crucial for a few reasons. The first is that fat keeps your ingredients' natural moisture intact so that they roast as opposed to drying out, according to The Spruce Eats. Having enough fat on meat or veggies before roasting also ensures that they'll be tender on the inside even when the outside is crisp. 

Bon Appétit notes that when cooking with fat, the fats themselves are able to reach very high temperatures. This enables the ingredients to also rise to that level of heat and caramelize, thus allowing for even browning and developing the all-important crust. 

In order to roast ingredients with fat like a pro, you'll want to make sure that your ingredients are coated in fat but are not drowning in it. NBC News notes that if you're roasting on a sheet pan, about two tablespoons of oil or ghee should be plenty. If you are roasting a high-fat meat like pork shoulder, you can use a bit less as the meat will render its own natural fats while cooking.