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Jul 19, 2009 02:30 PM

Makeshift vertical chicken roaster vs. $100 model

I saw the vertical roaster of my dreams on a cooking show - Staub cast iron, sells for $100.
A similar Emerilware is half that, but the center tube is poorly-designed. The beauty of this roaster is that it can go on the stovetop once the chicken is finished, so you can deglaze and make gravy with the drippings and aromatics in the pan. I really don't want to buy another gadget, even if it were a bargain. What I use now is a one-piece angel food pan - it's 50+ yrs old, and heavy aluminum (I think - got it from a closed commercial bakery). I pour boiling water in it to deglaze, then scrape well and transfer to a saucepan to finish making gravy. Could I safely omit this step by deglazing and finishing the sauce in the angel food pan on my electric ceramic cooktop?

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  1. I am actually cooking "beer can" chicken on my grill right now, so I am a fan of vertical roasting.

    It sounds like your angel food pan works fine, but that you are worried about how it will perform on a cooktop. If this is unfishished aluminum, meaning that satin finish that some commeercial cookware is made of, the pan will likely be fine, but you may get small metallic marks on your cooktop. This happened to me with a commercial steamer, and it took a really long time -- several months, actually, before you could no longer see small flecks of metal in the black cooktop surface. It does wash off eventually, but is seems to embed itself and it is not easy to clean. I am very cautious about this type of material on my cooktop now, and it is the only material I worry about.

    My suggestion is to remove the chicken, let it rest, and just pour off the pan juices into a stainless steel or other cooktop safe pot to make the gravy. It is not a big deal, really, but trying to get metal scuffs off your cooktop will be.

    8 Replies
    1. re: RGC1982

      Haha - when I saw the thread title I thought "beer butt chicken".

      I have a small stainless wire frame that you can insert a beer can into and then place the upright bird over it that I've been using forever, just like this one

      I can use it in any pan. At $6.99, it's worth a look.

      1. re: BeaN

        I think the OP is looking for an indoor cooking solution, which is why these roasters exist in the first place. You can't really risk posing a chicken on a beer can, even in a roasting pan or on a wire rack, in your oven, and expect to avoid the disaster that will likely happen when it invariably tips over.

        I have seen some really pretty, but really expensive ones, out there. Anything cheap is designed for outdoor or grill use, and that is not what greygarious was looking to do if he/she were interested in making pan gravy.

        1. re: RGC1982

          You're right - I use the oven, not a grill (heresy perhaps, but I don't like charred food). My cupboards are overful of pans and gadgets so I've made an ironclad rule not to accumulate more, not even one of those cheap glorified coat hangers twisted into a vertical rack. My choice is between using the angel food pan on the cooktop or not, and I will try it. The ceramic is white but the stove is 30 years old, so it's already got scratches and that's the last of my worries. As long as it won't hurt the pan, it's fine with me. Thanks.

          By the way, my tweak to vertical chicken is to stick it on with the legs pointing UP. You have to ram it down pretty hard, but the advantage is that the juices run down over the breast, basting it and keeping it from overcooking.

          1. re: greygarious

            I just found a Nordic Ware model on Amazon for $14.95. I am thinking of trying it myself.

            Try not to drag your pan across the cooktop surface and you may be fine.

            As for the hazards of grilling and getting charred food: I use a Weber gas grill, set the middle burner to the off position and place one or two birds over the middle burner. The other burners are set on low. I have done a ton of these with only one burned bird -- and that was the first time I used a new grill and didn't realize that new and unclogged burners were going to cook faster than my old clogged grill. (Shame on me, but it was funny).

            I actually like that the dark meat gets cooked a bit more when I do I cook the bird right side up. I am cooking on a grill, so I think closer proximity to the heatsource would guarantee that the breasts will come out dry. Better to point the legs and thighs down when cooking on a grill, I think. Upside down sounds like a great idea when cooking in the oven, so I'll give it a try when I decide to spring for my new (cheap) vertical roaster.

            BTW -- that Staub is beautiful -- I just saw it. But $109 is a bit expensive for this gadget. I think it's great that you have a pan that you can already use. I assume it doesn't have a hole in the middle, correct? I have tube pans too, but haven't thought of using them because the center piece has a hole. I guess I could set it in a roasting pan and see if that works.

            1. re: RGC1982

              The tube does have a hole, which I cover with a metal bottlecap or a wad of tin foil.

            2. re: greygarious

              Wouldn't that be easier if you remove the wishbone before roasting (I always remove the wishbone before roasting, because it makes carving much easier)?

              1. re: Karl S

                Not really necessary - most of the time shoving the chicken onto the tube cracks the wishbone. It's not all that hard to push it on - you just need to get it down pretty far so the whole shebang isn't too tall for the oven. If you don't, the bones at the end of the drumsticks can char.

            3. re: RGC1982

              This is exactly what I use in my oven with the roasting pan on the lowest rack. It's really not very tippy, and the stainless frame does not negatively impact making gravy later. I've never had one tip over and I've never used this on my grill.

              But maybe it's just too lowbrow.

        2. A beer can, half full with some herbs tossed in, works well for me.

          1. I'm very happy with a (stable) vertical roaster with a beer can insert that cost under $10.

            If you butterfly your chicken and cook it on a rack close to the chicken's size, with beer or other liquid below, you will get similar results.