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Nothing says 'holiday meal' like a beautiful roast

42 Recipes
Rib roast with tapenade
(Robert Gauthier / Los Angeles Times)

Not feeding 25 this year? Serve a smaller roast. Something on this list will surely feed your yen.

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With or without a crowd, a roast is a great centerpiece for a meal, if for no other reason than roasts are easy. Throw the meat in the oven and you don’t have to think about it for a while. You can turn your attention to side dishes, desserts and setting the table, or leave the kitchen altogether and take a shower or catch an episode of “The Queen’s Gambit” or “The Crown.” With the right size roast, once you’ve shut that oven door, you are free for a good two hours, often more, to do whatever is on your list.

If you are looking for as easy as it gets, you can do as my mother did. A purist, she seasoned our roasts with salt and pepper and let the flavor of the meat shine. No sauce, no gravy — just the jus from the pan and the moat of the carving board. Toss in some potatoes and a few other vegetables and the bulk of your meal takes care of itself. (You can then focus on dessert!)

Since you are not my mother, you may want to dress it up a bit, say with a glaze or a sauce or a coating of herbs, seasoned breadcrumbs or chopped nuts for additional texture and flavor. Whether you favor beef or pork (or duck or fish or poultry or cauliflower), this list is full of showstoppers, many of which you can set and forget.

Rib roast with tapenade

Time2 hours 30 minutes
YieldsServes 8

Whole Roasted Cauliflower With Spicy Tahini Sauce

Time1 hour 30 minutes, largely unattended
YieldsServes 2 to 4

Spiced crown pork roast with glazed root vegetables

Time3 hours 40 minutes
YieldsServes 6 to 8

The ultimate turkey

Time3 hours
YieldsServes 11 to 15

Winter roast pork with basil pomegranate sauce

Time2 hours
YieldsServes 10 to 12

Crackling Roast Pork Shoulder With Fennel and Chile

Time14 to 16 hours
YieldsServes 8 to 10

Pot Roast With Onion Marmalade

Time2 hours 30 minutes
YieldsServes 6 to 8

Slow-Roasted Salmon a la Brisket

Time45 minutes
YieldsServes 4 to 6

Bacon-wrapped pork loin with roasted apples

Time1 hour 15 minutes
YieldsServes 6 to 8

Rack of lamb with mint gremolata crust

Time55 minutes
YieldsServes 4

Slow-Roasted Salmon with Al Pastor Rub

Time45 minutes
YieldsServes 4 to 6

Turducken

TimeTotal time: 2 to 4 hours, plus 6 to 7 hours roasting time (timing will vary depending on how quickly the birds are boned)
YieldsServes 25 to 30

Roasted or grilled fillet of beef with black pepper

Time25 minutes
YieldsServes 4 to 6

Herb-Crusted Rack of Lamb

Time35 minutes
YieldsServes 4

Crown roast of pork stuffed with wild rice and dried fruit

Time3 hours 30 minutes
YieldsServes 12

Roast lamb with fresh mint sauce

Time2 hours
YieldsServes 6 to 8

Roast duck with seared prawns

Time30 minutes
YieldsServes 4

Pistachio-crusted beef tenderloin

Time1 hour 45 minutes
YieldsServes 8 to 10

Roast pork loin with red currants

Time1 hour 35 minutes
YieldsServes 6 to 8

Chinese beef brisket

Time3 hours
YieldsServes 6

Roast Lamb With Fresh Peas and Turnips

Time4 hours 30 minutes
YieldsServes 6

Slow-Roasted Salmon with Miso Barbecue Sauce

Time45 minutes
YieldsServes 4 to 6

Vertically-roasted duck

Time1 hour 45 minutes
YieldsServes 4 to 6

Roast pork shoulder master recipe

Time3 hours 35 minutes
YieldsServes 12 to 14

Port wine-glazed crown roast of pork

TimeTotal time: 2 1/2 hours Active work time: 15 minutes
YieldsServes 12 to 14

Coffee'd brisket

Time4 hours 15 minutes
YieldsServes 8 to 10

Chipotle- and orange-glazed ham

Time2 hours 10 minutes
YieldsServes 10 to 12

Roast leg of lamb with figs and olives

Time1 hour 30 minutes
YieldsServes 8

Five-spice roast pork belly

Time1 hour 5 minutes
YieldsServes 8

Pot-roasted lamb with fennel and potatoes

Time2 hours
YieldsServes 8 to 12

Spiced pork tenderloin with roasted apples and pumpkin risotto

Time1 hour 10 minutes
YieldsServes 4 to 8

Bistro Garden Pot Roast

Time3 hours 30 minutes
YieldsServes 6 to 8

Spatchcocked Roast Duck With Vietnamese-ish Herb Sauce

Time2 hours, largely unattended, plus 48 hours chilling
YieldsServes 4 to 6

Slow-Roasted Salmon with Spicy Radicchio and Olives

Time45 minutes
YieldsServes 4 to 6

Roast leg of lamb with rosemary, garlic and anchovies

TimeTotal time: 2 1/2 to 3 hours
YieldsServes 8 to 12