Cooking Methods - Pros & Cons: Oven Roasting
Oven roasting works great for steaks and roasts, both because the mechanical thermostat allows for very precise cooking, and because it tends not to dry them as quickly thanks to the enclosed nature of the space. Grilling times will change drastically between the hot summer and cold winter, and grills are never insulated, so the outside air temperature can make grilling in extreme temperatures very frustrating. The oven is insulated and automatically regulated, so it has a number of solid advantages.
It’s never a bad idea to use a mechanical or electronic internal thermometer to check the internal temperature of your steaks or roasts. Stop just a few degrees shy of your desired target - the meat holds significant heat and the temperature will continue to rise even after you remove the meat from the oven. And if you don’t have one yet, get yourself a roasting pan with a rack. Dry roasting would be what you accomplish by suspending the meat over the rack (incidentally this should be the only legal way to cook whole chickens). The meat cooks and the juices drip away from it, such that you can crisp the meat or skin all the way around. The juices collect in the pan and will even reduce for you, making for an intensely flavored gravy.
Roasting directly in the pan is basically braising. The meat purges liquid while it cooks, and the liquid - consisting mainly of water - will not allow the surface to get much hotter than 212 ºF, so if you like to brown your meat first, much of the effect will end up getting deglazed into the sauce (and off the meat). It does make for a more flavorful gravy, though.
You can cook pretty much anything in the oven. Leaner cuts or those with more connective tissue (e.g. shins, heels, shanks) should be oven roasted at a lower temperature and over longer times, and they generally benefit from having some liquid in the pan (wine, stock, beer, or even water), just to keep them moist throughout the process. Larger roasts should ideally be ordered with a fat cap on, and they should be roasted dry with the fat side up. The bigger the roast, the LOWER the temperature and the longer the cooking time. This allows for the heat to penetrate slowly and gradually to the center without drying out or overcooking the outside. The old chef’s adage is that a low cooking temperature cooks the center, and a high cooking temperature cooks the outside.
For steaks, you’re best off either preheating and timing your cook, or cooking more slowly for a more moist finished product. A faster cook at a broiling temperature (425 ºF and up) will yield a more layered effect, with a browner, crustier outside and a rarer, redder inside. A slower cook will yield a more uniformly cooked steak, without the crusty outside but more red real estate to show for it, as long as you stop it before long. Anything will eventually dry out and overcook if left in for too long.