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What to look for in a good roasting pan

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I roasted a duck last night in a thin roasting tray (or maybe it's a baking sheet...I don't know. It's barely 2 inches deep.), and the veggies that were suppose to make up the pan sauce burned. I'd like to know what I should look for in a roasting pan before I go out to buy one.

- Thick, heavy bottom to prevent burning?
- What material?
- How do I know if the pan is safe to use in the oven AND on the stove? (A lot of recipes tell you to deglaze the pan on the stove.)
- What size would I need for 6-10 lb. bird and a huge 20 lb turkey?

I see a roasting pan for $17.99 on IKEA (3 in. deep). It's stainless steel, and it says oven-safe (duh), but not sure if it's stovetop safe. (http://www.ikea.com/us/en/catalog/pro...) I certainly wouldn't want to warp it by using it on the stove.

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  1. It really doesn't matter what material a roasting pan is made from, aside from it being strong enough to hold the weight of the food, and IT CANNOT BE BLACK OR A DARK COLOR.

    Really. It's the hot air and infrared that's heating your food, so the pan really doesn't matter. That being said, an aluminum roasting pan will absorb heat in areas that aren't in contact with food, and conduct that heat to the food, so the edges of where your food contacts the pan might burn *if* you have the oven too hot. If the pan is dark, the metal will absorb more infrared heat and transfer that to the food in the same way, burning the edges of the food at the contact area.

    I've always found a good stainless steel roasting pan to be the best, however I don't deglaze it on the stovetop. If you want to deglaze something the size of a roasting pan, it'll have to be quite thick, or perhaps be cast iron to prevent it from warping. However a 20 lb cast iron roasting pan with a 20 lb turkey in it might require heavy equipment to get it into and out of the oven.

    P.S., if you have a dark colored roasting pan, put a piece of aluminum foil under the bottom to reflect the infrared and stop your veggies from burning on the bottom.

    4 Replies
    1. re: ThreeGigs

      yep, i warped my All Clad roaster trying to deglaze. that really seems like a defect to me, i mean, who wouldn't expect to be able to deglaze after roasting something? My electric stove doesn't even give off *that* high heat :-(

      1. re: danna

        It seems like a lot of roasting pans aren't strong enough to let you finish the pan sauce on the stove. Do you think it would work if you just poured in your deglazing liquid immediately after taking the pan out of the oven, while the pan is still hot? Then you could scrape up the fond and transfer the liquid to a saucepan to finish the sauce. I guess the only problem with that is that some recipes tell you to degrease before deglazing. If you degreased first, the pan would cool down. Why is life so hard?!

        1. re: danna

          Well, I expect any large area, thin, flat metal surface to warp when exposed to large heat differentials such as deglazing, especially on the stovetop.

          Personally, I just add some liquid and pop the pan back in the oven, or better yet, add some liquid to the pan (if it's dry) while the meat is still roasting. Scrape the edges a bit if necessary and you're good to go.

        2. re: ThreeGigs

          So I usually don't cook 20 lb turkeys. I was just wondering what size pan I would need for different size roasts. I usually deal with roasts that are less than 10 lbs. How do you deglaze the pan, if you don't do it on the stove?

        3. I would definitely not go for the ikea one just by looking at handles. Imagine trying to maneuver the burning handles while wearing oven mitts. They also look so flimsy that... might as well treat them as non-existant when you're dealing with a 20lb turkey.

          Get one with solid, comfortable, and big handles.

          2 Replies
          1. re: cutipie721

            I guess I wouldn't use it for a 20 lb turkey then. Would it work for smaller things though? (Like < 10 lb. roasts?)

            1. re: michaelnrdx

              That is a question for yourself. Find something approximate in weight and lift it. Can you see yourself maneuvering the whole setup from your countertop to the oven and back? If you ask me, with those two flimsy handles, I'm sure I can manage somehow.

          2. Well my Mom has one of these:

            http://itaintnew.com/-strse-305/Vinta... a really big one, not this exact

            and she has cooked many a large turkey in it and deglazed on the stove top (electrical - glass top and also coil, at one point) with no problem, for as long as I can remember.

            I have one of these:

            http://www.cuisinart.ca/cuisinart_pro...

            and honestly bought it because I thought it looked cool. LOL. Love it though. Roasts really well but, I haven't used it to deglaze. I never thought it'd be an issue and assumed when I needed to I'd put it on the stove top just like Mom :)

            3 Replies
            1. re: livetocook

              Um, your mom's been lucky: her roaster looks like Graniteware to me. That stuff's really thin and liable to burn on the stovetop if you're not careful.

              1. re: livetocook

                I used to have a cuisinart pan like that. worked great and for stove top de-glaze, the rack is nice to really get a crisp skin on a duck (or other bird).

                1. re: livetocook

                  I've used a 12 x 17 dark blue graniteware roaster for turkey for years (at least 25.) It holds up to a 23 lb bird, I use it to deglaze for gravy, and it does a good job of roasting veggies. I think experiences with these pans vary widely with each user - just like any kind of cookware.

                  For example, my current range is pretty consistent performance-wise (dual fuel), but my mother has an old elec stove (with the coils) and it's a real pain to make sure something doesn't burn. I started cooking using a elec coil cooktop, and didn't have a problem with burning while deglazing for turkey gravy using the graniteware.

                2. Here's my $.02. If you're going to go for a thin, inexpensive roasting pan, then size does matter. In one of those, if there's too much space between the various foods, then there's more likelihood of burning. If you're willing to spring for a thicker/heavier pan, you won't have to worry about the spacing around your ingredients as much and you can roast, say, a small bird with a couple of veggies in a pan big enough to accommodate a big turkey. As far as stove top, the heavier the better, but you have to see how heavy you're willing to go and also to pay for. Whatever you decide, you can get great results either way - there's just less room for error when it comes to thinner pans.

                  1. If all you do is a conventional 350 degree roast, in my experience you don't get significantly different results from Pyrex or Pillivuyt to Mauviel copper but the difference for gravy or pan sauces (the fond) is night and day. #1 would be copper (the ONE application where I prefer ] SS because you can abuse it with a whisk) . # 2 would be SS ... anything nonstick would be at the end of my list because it does not brown the drippings properly.

                    1. For smaller birds, I just use an oven-safe skillet. I mostly roast chickens that are five pounds or smaller and I use a 10" pan, but I would think you could do up to an eight to 10 pound bird in a 12" skillet. The low sides promote browning, and of course it's easy to deglaze afterwards on the stovetop.

                      I've never had occasion to cook a large turkey, but if I were to do it, I would probably get a heavy duty aluminum roaster at the restaurant supply store--something like these Vollrath pans: http://www.vollrathco.com/catalog_pro...

                      7 Replies
                      1. re: Amp1

                        I don't know why I have not considered a good cast iron skillet before. Cooking for one, it really makes a lot of sense.

                        1. re: Sid Post

                          I've roasted several chickens lately ala Zuni Cafe and my CI skillet really does the trick.

                        2. re: Amp1

                          If I do it again, I will get a restaurant supply pan, and probably even pay the double or more price to get the stainless steel version. Just before Thanksgiving, I bought one at Target for around $20, but for some reason they all seem to think it should have teflon or whatever it is inside. So gravy making is a problem. If you're going to pay big bucks, get a big pan, because most likely you will be cooking a 20 # or more turkey or other roast at some time in your life! This isn't a throwaway item. The stainless are maybe $70 to 80 IIRC. Otherwise for small roasts,cast iron pan is the best, goes from stovetop to oven and back like nobody's business. Plain or else Cuisinart. A friend got a Cusinart or similar roaster as a gift (not the normal size, it was restaurant size) and rhapsodizes about it, I think it was way over $100 though.

                          1. re: Amp1

                            I wonder about the aluminum for deglazing with anything acidic - would there be a problem with that? I've never used aluminum, so curious.

                            1. re: breadchick

                              What kind of problem exactly? That's what most restaurants use.

                              1. re: coll

                                I didn't know if there would be an issue with the aluminum reacting with the acid from lemon, wine, etc. I read something about it years ago, and didn't know if maybe it was older pans and not the newer ones. I just did a quick search and this is what I found under Answers.com:

                                "To start with, let's discuss the term nonreactive, which refers to metals (such as stainless steel) that have no negative reaction to foods cooked in them. On the other hand, reactive metals like aluminum, copper and cast iron react detrimentally with certain foods, particularly those that are acidic, such as lemon juice, tomatoes and vinegar. The results include a metallic taste and discoloration of the food."

                                So that's why I'm wondering about those professional roasters. Perhaps they're lined?

                                1. re: breadchick

                                  You're right, aluminum can react with acids and give food a metallic taste. As I mentioned when I posted the link, I would primarily use a pan like this for Thanksgiving turkey, and traditional gravy isn't very acidic. I'd be wary of using these pans when deglazing with wine, etc.

                                  Restaurants do use a lot of pans like these, but they are mostly cooking the same food night after night. I, on the other hand, am always trying new dishes. I do have a couple of aluminum pans and I've never had a real problem, but every time I add something acidic while using one, I feel like I'm playing a bit of roulette.

                          2. I have the Calphalon try ply that they recommend on Cook's Illustrated - works really well in the oven and on the stove top and is cheaper than the AC version that apparently warps on the stove top. Very large though.

                            1. what type of pan would you suggest for roasting three racks of lamb?

                              1. For small roasts -- chickens, half legs of lamb, maybe even a full leg of lamb -- I use a Le Creuset oval au gratin enamelled cast iron dishes. Mine is maybe 13" long. When I'm done roasting (usually using a roasting rack) I can put the enamelled cast iron dish on the fire and deglaze. I have a larger roasting pan for bigger roasts that has a thick bottom and can be deglased, but I rarely use this pan.

                                1 Reply
                                1. re: icookstuff

                                  The de Buyer is better than a stainless steel type for deglazing, in my opinion, but I don't know where you can find one these days.