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Apr 6, 2012 12:08 PM

Do you roast with or without water in the roasting pan?

I am about to make a 4 pound top sirlion roast, and some of the recipes I have seen do not mention water at all. Which got me thinking, is it normal to put water in a roasting pan? So, I started looking, specifically for chicken and beef, it seems to be 50/50 on adding water or not. Some say add a cup or two, other just a half a cup to stop some splattering, other just say none is the best to prevent steaming.

A) How much of a difference does water really make when roasting beef or some sort of bird?
B) If you do not use water or stock, wouldn't a lot of fond get maybe overly burnt or stuck to the pan?
C) Can you still get a good pan sauce/gravy without water?

Thanks for any suggestions! I have been lurking on these boards for a while, this is my first post :)


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  1. I haven't really researched it, but for the most part, tender cuts of meat are not roasted with water - roasted chicken, beef tenderloin. Cuts that are less tender seem to have water added - beef chuck, beef round.

    Sometimes I cheat by placing the meat on a bed of onion, celery and carrots. Those veggies will generate moisture. Also, part of the reason is I can use the flavored juices for gravy.

    A) I generally do not use water. I like crisping/browning on all bits.
    B) I throw in a little onion, carrots and celery to reduce the burning.
    C) You will eventually need water, wine or stock to deglaze the pan to make gravy.

    1. If it's covered I don't use water (or other liquids) but if it's uncovered I do use just enough liquid to either prevent the juices dripping from the meat from burning onto the baking pan or enough to produce a nice basting liquid.

      1. I tend to only add water when the drippings are getting dark. That way it is dry in the beginning to help browning, but you still have drippings for sauce. It also helps control the smoking.

        1. Without.

          I want to roast not steam.

          1. As little water as possible. I only put it in to stop the fat from burning in the bottom of the pan and smoking me out of my apartment. Also, if I want to make any kind of jus, you'll need to prevent the burning by way of a touch of water.

            Not too much, or you steam the food, or at least don't get the nice crust and browning you typically want in a roast.