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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

Time 2 hours 30 minutes
Yields Serves 8

Whole Roasted Cauliflower With Spicy Tahini Sauce

Time 1 hour 30 minutes, largely unattended
Yields Serves 2 to 4

Spiced crown pork roast with glazed root vegetables

Time 3 hours 40 minutes
Yields Serves 6 to 8

The ultimate turkey

Time 3 hours
Yields Serves 11 to 15

Winter roast pork with basil pomegranate sauce

Time 2 hours
Yields Serves 10 to 12

Leg of lamb stuffed with greens, feta and pine nuts

Time 3 hours
Yields Serves 6 to 8

Crackling Roast Pork Shoulder With Fennel and Chile

Time 14 to 16 hours
Yields Serves 8 to 10

Pot Roast With Onion Marmalade

Time 2 hours 30 minutes
Yields Serves 6 to 8

Slow-Roasted Salmon a la Brisket

Time 45 minutes
Yields Serves 4 to 6

Bacon-wrapped pork loin with roasted apples

Time 1 hour 15 minutes
Yields Serves 6 to 8

Rack of lamb with mint gremolata crust

Time 55 minutes
Yields Serves 4

Slow-Roasted Salmon with Al Pastor Rub

Time 45 minutes
Yields Serves 4 to 6

Turducken

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

Roasted or grilled fillet of beef with black pepper

Time 25 minutes
Yields Serves 4 to 6

Herb-Crusted Rack of Lamb

Time 35 minutes
Yields Serves 4

Crown roast of pork stuffed with wild rice and dried fruit

Time 3 hours 30 minutes
Yields Serves 12

Roast lamb with fresh mint sauce

Time 2 hours
Yields Serves 6 to 8

Roast duck with seared prawns

Time 30 minutes
Yields Serves 4

Pistachio-crusted beef tenderloin

Time 1 hour 45 minutes
Yields Serves 8 to 10

Roast pork loin with red currants

Time 1 hour 35 minutes
Yields Serves 6 to 8

Chinese beef brisket

Time 3 hours
Yields Serves 6

Roast Lamb With Fresh Peas and Turnips

Time 4 hours 30 minutes
Yields Serves 6

Slow-Roasted Salmon with Miso Barbecue Sauce

Time 45 minutes
Yields Serves 4 to 6

Vertically-roasted duck

Time 1 hour 45 minutes
Yields Serves 4 to 6

Roast pork shoulder master recipe

Time 3 hours 35 minutes
Yields Serves 12 to 14

Port wine-glazed crown roast of pork

Time Total time: 2 1/2 hours Active work time: 15 minutes
Yields Serves 12 to 14

Coffee'd brisket

Time 4 hours 15 minutes
Yields Serves 8 to 10

Chipotle- and orange-glazed ham

Time 2 hours 10 minutes
Yields Serves 10 to 12

Roast leg of lamb with figs and olives

Time 1 hour 30 minutes
Yields Serves 8

Five-spice roast pork belly

Time 1 hour 5 minutes
Yields Serves 8

Pot-roasted lamb with fennel and potatoes

Time 2 hours
Yields Serves 8 to 12

Spiced pork tenderloin with roasted apples and pumpkin risotto

Time 1 hour 10 minutes
Yields Serves 4 to 8

Bistro Garden Pot Roast

Time 3 hours 30 minutes
Yields Serves 6 to 8

Spatchcocked Roast Duck With Vietnamese-ish Herb Sauce

Time 2 hours, largely unattended, plus 48 hours chilling
Yields Serves 4 to 6

Slow-Roasted Salmon with Spicy Radicchio and Olives

Time 45 minutes
Yields Serves 4 to 6

Roast leg of lamb with rosemary, garlic and anchovies

Time Total time: 2 1/2 to 3 hours
Yields Serves 8 to 12