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May 23, 2009 10:41 AM

Good Roasting Pan - Is Copper a Help or a Hindrance?

I don't have a proper roasting vessel despite my downright love for roast chicken. Currently I roast in a gigantic, thin, stamped metal roasting tin - more like a vat really, based on size - that I picked up at a thrift store for a dollar. The only reason I even bought this one was that I wanted something substantial to make a sauce/gravy in and the disposable aluminum roasting vessels from the grocery store didn't cut it.

Now I'm looking at available options and one Canadian retailer has the Mauviel 4.2 quart, 13.75" x 10" x 3", 2.0 mm copper with iron handles model on sale for $250 (Canadian) regular $485. I absolutely love my Mauviel saute pan that I received as a Christmas gift last year and was wondering if this roaster would be a good complement.

Now, as I see it, the pros are going to be the extremely high quality of the build, copper will yield even heat conduction through the pan and good gravies/sauces, and the smaller size will be good for single chickens (just me and my girlfriend around here), and it could double as a lasagna pan. The potential bad though will be the same but reversed: the good heat conduction may be too much conductive heat transfer and could burn the bottoms of roasts or veg, maybe even making smoke? The copper is also 2.0 mm, not the recommended 2.5 mm for stove top use, and the small size might eventually be a limiting factor.

Does anyone use a copper roaster and if so, how does it work? Any alternative high quality roasters available here - All Clad, Paderno, Viking etc. - are in a similar, maybe slightly cheaper price bracket ($150-$250), so the on-sale Mauviel seems like a steal.

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  1. Because a roasting pan will not be sitting directly atop a heat source, but will be more or less evenly surrounded by hot air, rapid conduction of heat is pretty much irrelevant. You do want even distribution of heat, though, and so a thick metal (the copper you are considering or cast iron) or porcelain roasting pan is usually better than a thin profile steel or aluminum roasting pan. Either of the types of metal can be moved to the stovetop for deglazing and gravy, while you would be limited in that regard with a porcelain roaster.

    Looking ahead to the time after you have consumed the roast, the roasting pan is likely to be pretty greasy. At such times, especially if you have guests, it is nice to be able to just pop the roasting pan into the dishwasher and let the dishwasher do what it does better than hand-washing: use REALLY hot water to blast away the grease. You can do that with porcelain or enameled cast iron, but not with copper or nonenameled cast iron.

    All things considered, the best all-purpose roasting pan, in my opinion, is enameled cast iron. The traditional Dutch oven might well do, but something like this:
    would suit your needs perfectly, as long as you are roasting uncovered or under an aluminum foil "tent ."

    1. At least part of the fun of a roast is the ritual of the event and I think it would be hard to find a more celebratory pan to use than a Mauviel. Unless you have a duff oven that fluctuates wildly in temperature any extra mass gained from other choices is probably irrelevant to you. The size might be an issue for two people if you ever do all in one roasts with vegetables in with the roast at the same time. I ended up getting a larger LC roasting pan because of my predilection for all in one roast chicken - although I certainly coped for a while without it and it will be perfect size for lasagnes.

      I'm not a huge fan of copper, but if you already have copper and could see yourself getting more then the half price offer does seem like a steal, and even I would have hugh difficulty in choosing steel or cast iron over it at a similar price.

      1. That's a pretty good deal, and I'm sure it's a great roaster, but if you ever roast anything larger than a chicken or a rack of lamb, or if you brown bones for stock, you'll want something larger. Most home ovens will accommodate something on the order of 15x12" or 16x13".

        A larger pan will give you more room for vegetables around the roast, and they will actually roast if they have more space. I'd say this was the biggest improvement I experienced when I got a large heavy roasting pan. I have a heavy stainless roaster made by Mauviel, of somewhat more utilitarian design than their current version, and I've been very pleased with it.

        Another thing to think about is whether the roaster can take a tight fitting cover, so that you could have the option of braising in it. I don't know that there are covers for Mauviel roasters, but roasters with drop handles often have the option of a cover. Mine doesn't, but I have a big copper rondeau for that purpose.

        1. I have the larger Mauviel roasting pan(at least 16x13. I don't have it in front of my, might be a bit larger if they offer a larger one).

          I'm not sure that the expense of copper lends that much to a roasting pan. I buy mine at a deep discount where I"m employed so have collected several pieces of copper. I wouldn't say the roaster is one where I really see the benefit of copper so if you're thinking of buying it for that reason, you're probably just as well served with a good quality tri-ply roaster at a much better price(for instance the All-Clad roaster was available for $99 at SLT over the holidays, probably will go on sale again around this years holidays).

          That said, as someone mentioned above, the copper roaster makes quite an aesthetic statement and I do love pulling it out of the oven on Thanksgiving with a gorgeous turkey in a gorgeous pan. If that makes the expense worth it to you, by all means go for it!

          1. I agree with most of the preceding. A regards the actual roasting, I roast smaller things, such as chickens, in pyrex, and they work fine. However, I have a large copper roaster with SS lining, and it realy excels at two things: roasting potatoes, etc. in with a large roast and, most of all, coming out of the oven and onto the stovetop to make gravy while the roast rests on a carving board. The fond is wonderful thansk to SS's sticky properties, and I can go at it mercilessly with a wire whisk with the tough SS lining. I can also add other things that are acidic without a thought as to the surface. . Was it "worth it?" Probably not, but it is awfully nice. My main criteria in buying a roaster would be whether ti was the right size for me and whether it had an SS lining. and no, I am not exclusively pro-SS in copper. For virtually all other lined pans I prefer tin linings.

            1 Reply
            1. re: tim irvine

              Agreed about tin lining for a broiler. I also have mostly tin lined copperware, but I decided not to look for a tin-lined broiler, because I often start a roast at higher temperatures than would be safe for tin, and I don't want to have to figure out a non-metal roast rack or worry about scraping the good bits off the bottom.