Advice on an all purpose roasting / lasagna / casserole pan
I have been reading these boards for a while but just signed up to post as well. Everyone here has such wonderful and detailed advice and experience! I am trying to decide which pan to purchase for an all purpose large size roaster. I have come across different advice--some swear by their AC roasters while others say that the less costly Calphalon triply roaster does the job, while others prefer their LCs other dutch oven.
While I don't want to waste money, I will spend more if needed to get the right item. I am looking for a 12x15 ish size which I can use for roasting, baking a large batch of lasagna, and anything else I may need to put in a larger pan. Currently I have 9x9 and 9x12 LC ceramic bakers (that I totally LOVE) and various cheapie baking sheets plus a NS cheapie roaster that I don't like. For Thanksgiving I usually use a grocery store aluminum disposable tray.
I don't roast a lot right now (living in TX -- it's just too hot) but once we get back home to Boston I am sure I will be doing more roasting. Also, with four kids (two are growing boys) I need to start making larger quantities!
So far I have looked at:
AC stainless roaster
Calphalon triply roaster
Cuisinart Chef's Classic roaster
Sur La Table Triply stainless roaster
Emile Henry 5.4 ceramic baker
Chefs Essentials deep lasagna pan (http://www.chefscatalog.com/product/9...
)and this interesting option on Amazon: Camerons Products Stainless Steel Multi Pan http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B000...
Okay, so here are my questions:
1. Do I want ceramic or stainless (I am not sure I can handle the weight of an LC because of early arthritis in my hands and wrists
)2. Will ceramic crack over time if used for roasting?
3. Does it matter if it's all stainless or should it be a triply? I probably won't be doing a lot of stovetop usage, just oven.
4. Any particular brands (of the list above or something you own and love) that I should check out?
5. And the enduring question -- Is AC really worth the money?
Finally, I could be convinced to get an LC if everyone *really* thinks it's the way to go.
Thanks for suffering through my long post!
1. You want both. Porcelain pieces like Emile Henry and metal do different things well. EH can't be used over the flame of a stove, such as when you want to deglaze the bottom of the pan to make a roasted turkey gravy. OTOH, nonporous glazed porcelain like Emile Henry is perfect for baked lasagna. Baked on cheese and goo will clean up easy after soaking the procelain pan. Not so much with a metal pan. I have both a nonstick, heavy gauge aluminum pan and an old hard anodized Calphalon Commercial pan. The nonstick cleans up easier than the anodized finish.
2. Yes, it can crack over time.
3. I wouldn't go pure stainless on a roasting pan. Aluminum is better at conducting heat. It doesn't have to be triply, either. If you look in any restaurant kitchen, they're using heavy gauge, plain aluminum roasters.
4. Check in any restaurant supply place for commercial brands like Vollrath if value for $ is important to you. You won't find pretty kitchen props - restaurants need hard working functional pieces that they beat on every day.
5. All Clad is worth it for daily use pots and pans, as I have many AC pieces and love them. I wouldn't spend the money on occasional use pieces like a roasting pan.
I have used the "Calphalon Contemporary Stainless Steel Roasting Pan with Rack" for several years, having bought it when it was the recommended roaster in a Cook Illustrated article. (I checked just now, and it's still their recommended one.) The pan works flawlessly as a turkey roaster, beef roaster, everything. I've also made lasagna in it very successfully, but be aware that that's for making one very big lasagna. I think that a substantial bottom (tri-ply or whatever) is important if you want to be able to make gravies in the pan on the stovetop, which I often do, because it's the simplest way to take advantage of fond flavors.
Cooks did not test the ALl-Clad or other very expensive pans. The Calphalon retails at $120, and i think i got mine a bit cheaper on Amazon.
I have an All Clad roaster that I got for a about half price on Cookwareandmore.com, and that certainly makes it "worth the money." I also recently got a Mario Batalli enameled cast iron DEEP lasagna pan, but as its new cast iron it IS quite heavy. I have arthritic wrists and this one makes me a bit scared when I try to take it, full, out of the oven. But it's a beautiful piece of work, otherwise, and the higher sides are just wonderful.
For true roasting, if you are not going to take the pan to the stovetop for deglazing and gravy or sauce afterwards, the main thing a roasting pan seems (to me) to do is catch drippings. So for things like a chicken I often roast on a rack in a Pyrex dish because it is so easy to clean up. For something where I will be making gravy, however, I go with SS lined so I can whisk it without reservation and use wine or other acidics. I definitely go with metal over Pyrex or ceramic if I am also roasting potatoes or other vegetables. Chunks of potatoes and other root vegetables make a lovely "rack" upon which to roast beef, pork, or lamb. Pyrex or ceramic seems best for lasagna. Shape issues aside, I have an old oval ceramic dish I prefer for lasagna. It's nice looking and the lasagna seems to cook better and release better than in Pyrex. A heavy quarter jelly roll pan also makes a good roaster and is extremely versatile. I like Chicago Metallics but NOT the non-stick. Using an LC or Staub or the like for straight roasting seems expensive and heavy, but if you are browning before roasting or adding liquid, like for carnitas, it is a great choice.
re: tim irvine
Okay, so I am convinced I need two different pans, even though I was hoping to have just one multi-purpose pan! I am looking at the Emile Henry 14.5x11-in. Lasagna Dish (does anyone know if LC stoneware has a similar size...?) plus a stainless roaster. For now I am getting this stainless roaster from Amazon
(it was free with the 4-for-3 promo since I actually needed the other three items anyway...). That will give me time to decide if I want the calphalon or A-C or what... cutipie721, that Mauviel looked really nice! I am sad to see that A-C's roaster is made in China--and I am assuming the Calphalon is too.