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What do I look for in a roasting pan?

nihon_no_cook's picture

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Disclaimer: yes, I know that if I spend an hour searching through the archives, this is probably buried somewhere already. However, I made it through the first three batches of search results without finding it, and gave up. Plus, we have some new folks on the site who might have some additional input . . .

Now that the extra-large oven is on the horizon (a month and a half to go . . . I'll start the day countdown soon), I want to get a REAL roasting pan to replace the nasty cheapo blue oval speckled pan I bought at the grocery store in college. Sure, anything will be a step in the right direction, but I'm thinking I might want to go ahead and invest in a moderately good pan. Mostly I'll be using it for roasting chickens, turkeys (medium-sized, up to maybe 18 pounds), pork roasts, and occasionally making lasagna.

I'm guessing I should go for a metal finish inside (rather than nonstick), with good sturdy riveted handles that I can manage while wearing oven mitts. I suppose I'll get a rack to go in it (is it ok to get a nonstick rack, at least? DH isn't a very motivated scrubber sometimes). Do most of the rectangular roasting pans have lids available, or am I going to be stuck making aluminum foil tents when I do a pork roast?

1. Any suggestions on brands/sizes that won't cost me $200 for a pan I'll use less than once a month? If I can get a sturdy one (with a lid) for around $100 or so, I would be happy enough to put off getting the rack for a few months until the checkbook recovers from the pan itself.

2. Is it going to be bad for my food if what I roast is considerably smaller than the pan capacity (if I do a pork roast for DH and myself, it's going to look lost in a pan that can handle an 18-pound turkey, unless I use half a bushel of veggies to fill up the rest of the pan). Maybe I should get a smaller pan for chicken/roasts/lasagna, and continue to use the disposable foil ones for Bubba the Turkey?

As usual, thanks in advance for all your expert advice and opinions . . . my Christmas list is gonna be great this year!

CLS's picture

(post #53710, reply #2 of 34)

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Nihon, I'm so not the expert in this area, but I struggled with this issue myself about a year or so ago. Finally splurged and bought a stainless steel job, about 3 inches deep, with a nonstick rack, for about $80. So far, it's awesome. Hold everything including turkey, lasagna and my spanakopita, sturdy as all hell, handles riveted on, fairly light in weight, and while it requires some elbow grease at times, nothing to excessive really. One of the things I really like about it is that when my roast is done, I can set it on top of my stove and make the sauce right there in the pan from the drippings. Also, even with a large roast, I still have plenty of room to throw in some carrots, onions, and potatoes to roast alongside.

Now, it doesn't have a mark on it to say what brand or anything it is, but I got it from Williams-Sonoma. I am certain they probably still sell it or something very similar. Good luck. And I think spending a little extra on something like this will be worth it - mine has paid for itself several times over; I use it alot.

Chiffonade_'s picture

(post #53710, reply #3 of 34)

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I know you don't want to spend a fortune, but don't buy cheap and regret it later. Invest in a large roasting pan, heavy with or without a non-stick coating, and fixed, riveted handles. If you spend $100, you know you won't be buying one again anytime soon.

Carole's picture

(post #53710, reply #4 of 34)

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Nihon, I purchased a roasting pan from Williams-Sonama(I know). It cost $120 and is labeled "made in France". We love it. It is non-stick and large enough to roast two chickens or a 22# turkey. Good investment. I have also baked lots of chicken wings in it, and it works beautifully. We have also roasted 4 Cornish Hens in it.

Carole's picture

(post #53710, reply #5 of 34)

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Hey, just read the post. Spelled Williams-Sonoma incorrectly. I'm becoming paranoid about spelling.

Valerie_'s picture

(post #53710, reply #6 of 34)

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Cook's Illustrated did an article about a year ago reviewing a bunch of roasting pans and racks. I don't remember when they did this (probably around Thanksgiving last year), but I do have the article somewhere at home. If you don't have it, I'll look it up tonight and post their top picks.

CLS's picture

(post #53710, reply #7 of 34)

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Carole, I think we bought the same one. They have two versions - one with non-stick, one without. I got the without version. I bought it the day after Thanksgiving - it was on sale. I simply can't resist that store when things are on sale!

Jean_'s picture

(post #53710, reply #8 of 34)

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Nihon, I just can't resist any longer. Every time I read your topic heading I say to myself "I look for a turkey or prime rib!" I'll go to my room now. :-)

MEAN_CHEF's picture

(post #53710, reply #9 of 34)

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All of this talk about spending a lot of money on a roaster compels me to share a way out. I have two covered high sided roasters which I hardly ever use (good for large quantity braising but little else). A roaster needs low sides so that you don't steam the bottom of your roast. What I have always used is the broiler pan that came with my oven and a cheap adjustable rack. Broiler pan has just enough depth to collect juices and is very low so browning is great. It will hold a 25 pound turkey. Total cost: under $10.00

nihon_no_cook's picture

(post #53710, reply #10 of 34)

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Ok, now I'm confused. I just typed my family's recipe for pork roast into MC last night, and it calls for part of the cooking time to be covered. I don't plan on changing the cooking method, as we all really like the way the suckers turn out when cooked this way. . . . BUT, if I get a low-sided roaster, am I going to be able to get a good enough cover on it with aluminum foil? I am all thumbs when it comes to foil (don't remind me of the time I used two piece of foil to cover something, but neglected to crimp them together, and ended up with barbecued hockey pucks instead of barbecued steaks), especially when I have to use it on a hot pan (first part of cooking is done uncovered, then it gets covered when the veggies are added, so the pan will be really hot while I'm trying to foil it). Suggestions?

nihon_no_cook's picture

(post #53710, reply #11 of 34)

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Carole and CLS -

Thanks for the input. I was wondering if the W-S pans were worth the price, or if I should try to locate a restaurant supply store when I get back home. But if you guys are happy with the W-S pans, that's probably good enough for me!

Btw, I'm guessing that there aren't lids to go with these pans. Is that correct?

nihon_no_cook's picture

(post #53710, reply #12 of 34)

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I do not have that issue, and would appreciate it if you could post the results when you have time. Thanks for the offer!

Dutchess_'s picture

(post #53710, reply #13 of 34)

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Nihon, I have roasted my Thanksgiving turkey, and a lot of other meats, in a broiler pan for years, and I agree with Mean Chef that it works very well ---- but last year I became very enthused about buying a roasting pan after reading the article in the November issue of Fine Cooking entitled, "Picking a Roasting Pan To Use All Year." As I mentioned earlier, in a thread talking about All Clad pans, I purchased an All Clad roaster from an internet site called Outlets On Line for half the price I would have paid in a retail store. I love this roasting pan. Soon after I got it, I followed the recipe for roasting a beef tenderloin in the January 1999 Fine Cooking, and the roasting pan was great for searing the meat and then roasting it in the oven. It also works very well for lasagna.

MEAN_CHEF's picture

(post #53710, reply #14 of 34)

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Are you trying to be difficult? My solution is cheap, not perfect. I have a covered roaster for the purpose you described.

But, keep in mind the ones that everyone are talking about are fairly low sided and do NOT have covers.

Roasting and covers don't go together in my experience. You can always tent with foil. If you are a klutz, wear over mitts.

nihon_no_cook's picture

(post #53710, reply #15 of 34)

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Me? Difficult? Only rarely, my dear. I think I need to swipe a pair of oven gloves (with fingers and sleeves that come up to my elbows) from work . . . trying to do anything with Al. foil wearing oven mittens is just asking for profanity.

Maybe I'll just keep Old Blue for the pork roasts, and get another pan for the uncovered stuff. Where did you find a broiling pan that is sturdy enough to hold a turkey? Most that I have seen have been flimsy aluminum-esque pans. . . now that I think about it, I do have a sturdier one, but it's black, and impossible to clean. I suppose I could line it with aluminum foil . . . at least that I could do with a cold pan!

Valerie_'s picture

(post #53710, reply #16 of 34)

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Sheesh, in a hurry this morning and left the article at home. Will have to try to post this weekend or Monday. However, I do remember that they did not endorse the really expensive brands. They preferred a US $30-ish roasting pan. I'll get the brand soon...

Valerie_'s picture

(post #53710, reply #17 of 34)

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Cook's Illustrated, #36, February 1999

They compared All-Clad, Calphalon, General Housewares Corp, Roshco SilverStone, Roshco, Faberware, Mirro, and Progressive International (and rated them in that order. In other words, they thought the All-Clad was the best pan and the Progressive was the worst).

They rated their pans by roasting a 12-pound turkey, searing a pork loin on the stove and roasting root vegetables.

Their top 3 choices, with comments:

All-Clad
Considered best pan. This is the Stainless Steel, Roti, Model #5016. Runs for about $180.00. Stainless steel exterior and interior with aluminum core. Weighs 8 lbs.

Tester's Comments

This expensive pan had a nice, heavy feel and great handes. Turkey browned and crisped beautifully, altho stove top performance was a bit quirky. Cleaned relatively easily.

Calphalon
French Roast Pan, Model G6818HC, $152.00. Hard anodized aluminum. Weighs 7 lbs 4 oz.

Tester's Comments

The turkey was fine, and both pork loin and vegetables browned deeply and evenly. However, turkey drippings scorched a bit, and the dark surface color obscured the drippings in the pan.

Best Buy: General Housewares Corporation
Granite Ware Extra Large Capacity Oval Roaster, $17.99. Enameled Steel, weighs 3 lbs, 11 oz.

Tester's Comments

This pan's good performance with turkey and roasted vegetables surprised us. But it tends to burn food when used on the stove top, and it's not particularly easy to clean. For the price, tho, it can't be beat. Make sure your rack fits in the oval shape.

If you want info about any of the other pans they rated, let me know. Generally, they had a problem with non-stick pans because racks tended to slide dangerously when moving the pan.

Sandra_'s picture

(post #53710, reply #18 of 34)

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Glad to hear both MC and Duchess endorse the ol' broiler pan solution -- that's all I've ever used for roasts, though I do have a lovely, French ceramic roasting pan (bought for about $20) that I use for roasting vegies, making lasagna, etc. I've been wondering if I was missing something by not having one of those expensive, deep roasting pans.

aussiechef's picture

(post #53710, reply #19 of 34)

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And, Nihon, I can't resist asking you this. What is your work that you have gloves with fingers that come up to your elbows? :)

nihon_no_cook's picture

(post #53710, reply #20 of 34)

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I make those alien autopsy videos they sell on late-night tv . . .

Nah, in real life (whatever that is) I make car paint. Need super-strength gloves with fingers to maneuver racks of test panels around in ovens that range from 200 F to 400 F. DH (who works for the same company) and I have some nasty burns to prove it . . . now they get us the kevlar-reinforced super gloves, and we're pretty much burn-free. Now if they could just make acetone smell a little better . . .

nihon_no_cook's picture

(post #53710, reply #21 of 34)

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Valerie - thanks for all the typing! Regardless of the legions of All-Clad fans here on the site, I still harbor a fondness for Calphalon cookware. Maybe this gives me enough ammo to ask DH to invest in one for Christmas (especially if I tell him it means we might have turkey more than once a year!).

MEAN_CHEF's picture

(post #53710, reply #22 of 34)

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I thought maybe you were a proctologist.

kmkat_'s picture

(post #53710, reply #23 of 34)

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Can you stand another 2 cents worth of opinion, this from a home cook? Like you, I had always wanted a good roaster to replace the dark-blue-with-white-specks one, and last year I got one at Sam's Club that I thought was a great value for the $40 price. It is 16" x 12", weighs 5 lb., 4 oz. (I just weighed it to see how it compared to the ones listed in the Cooks' Illustrated review), is the same dark gray anodized aluminum as Calphalon with heavy-duty handles sturdily riveted on, is non-stick, and came with a rack. It is Members' Mark brand, which I think may be a "house" brand, since I have seen other items of that brand at Wal-Mart, also a Sam Walton-started enterprise. It looks just like the Calphalon roaster and has that same great "hefty" feel of quality. If you don't have access to Sam's Club (a members-only warehouse store like Costco), it may be available at Wal-Mart. I bought mine last year shortly before Thanksgiving, and although it hasn't been in my Sam's Club store all year since, I suspect it will be back in time for this year's holiday cooking season.

nihon_no_cook's picture

(post #53710, reply #1 of 34)

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Geez, now that Sam's Club membership I picked up last time I was in the states is REALLY burning a hole in my pocket. Maybe there will be some left in a stray corner of the store when I return in the middle of December. . . .

Valerie_'s picture

(post #53710, reply #24 of 34)

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Just got a flyer from the Bed, Bath and Beyond up the street. Seems they're selling an 18-inch Calphalon roaster for $69. Wonder if it's a different model or does CI just have wacky info when it comes to prices. I'll be checking it out this weekend.

EM_'s picture

(post #53710, reply #25 of 34)

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A great big rectangular Pyrex dish works for me unless the turkey is monster sized. I use a nonstick rack in this. For a pork roast or anything which needs to be covered, a dutch oven is fine.

Wolverine's picture

(post #53710, reply #26 of 34)

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Hey Nihon

I have two of those calphalon roasters - one was purchased for me by mistake. When you get to the states, send me your address and I will give one to you! Save your points with DH! I can use the cabinet space! ;-)

kai_'s picture

(post #53710, reply #27 of 34)

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Hmmm, maybe I missed something, but what is wrong w/the speckled pans for the non-professional cook? I have used mine for years, albeit not that frequently (i.e., not more than once/month), and they have presented no problems that I'm aware of.

sanderson_'s picture

(post #53710, reply #28 of 34)

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The big drawback to enameled pans is that the enamel can chip off and each chip is the equivalent to a chip of glass...not a good addition to any recipe I know of. The pans aren't always flimsy...but often are and the lighter weight metal bends easily making for more chipping since the coating doesn't flex. Then there's the question of just what kind of metal is inside that enameled jacket and if you use a chipped pan could you be encouraging nasty interactions between your food and the unknown metal.

kai_'s picture

(post #53710, reply #29 of 34)

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Thanks, Sanderson. Guess I've been really lucky! I will definitely keep an eye out for chipped places.

nihon_no_cook's picture

(post #53710, reply #30 of 34)

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Holy cow, are you serious? If you are, I can give you an address in the US now (my mom's) and you can get it out of your cabinet space sooner rather than later : )

Email me if you're serious (and I'll owe you big time!).

Nihon