All Tied Up
Not every roast needs tying. Many are naturally suited to seasoning and popping in an oven, such as pork loin and other bone-in cuts that have their own built-in structural supports. But roasts that have been butterflied and seasoned, are stuffed, or have an irregular shape require a bit of reassembly and securing with butcher’s twine. This ensures that your stuffing doesn’t tumble out during cooking and gives the roast a more symmetrical shape so it cooks more evenly.
How to Tie a Roast
Start with a good spool of 100 per cent cotton butcher’s twine with a minimum 12-ply thickness (although 16-ply is better if you can find it). Thicker twine is less likely to snap when you pull it taut.
When you are working with twine, secure it to your work surface to stop it rolling over, off, and on to the floor while you are in the middle of your coup de grace butcher’s knot. Place the ball or cone of twine either on a heavy-bottomed base equipped with a dowel or inside a small, heavy saucepan.
Lay your seasoned or stuffed roast on the work surface. If you are tying a roast with an irregular shape, tuck in any protruding bits and pat it into a more even shape. Have your twine close at hand.
Leaving one end attached to the spool, slide the twine underneath the roast. For a rib roast, plan to knot the twine between the first and second ribs; for a boneless roast, you will make your first knot 5cm or so in from the end.
To make the first butcher’s knot (also known as a slip knot), bring the loose end of the twine over the top of the roast. Grab the end of the twine that is still attached to the spool with the ring and little fingers of your left hand (the string will drape across your index and middle fingers), then drape the loose end of twine over the index and middle fingers of your left hand (see photo 1, below).
Grab the loose end of twine with your right hand. Then, rotate your left hand so that your palm is now facing down (see photo 2). Since you are still holding the loose end of twine with your right hand, this rotating motion should form a loop on the loose end of twine (not the one attached to the spool). Slip the loose end of twine (which is in your right hand) under and through this loop (see photo 3), then move your left hand out of the way so you can tighten the knot (see photo 4). Hold the loose piece of twine steady in your right hand, then tug the end still attached to the spool tightly with your left hand until the knot is as tight as possible (see photo 5). Make a second, regular knot on top of the first one to ensure the first one doesn’t loosen (see photo 6), then cut the twine directly above the second knot (see photo 7).
Repeat until the roast is snugly tied. For a rib roast, tie the twine in between each rib. For a boneless roast, repeat the knot a regular 5cm intervals (see photo 8).