After spending years of making holiday meals and entertaining family and guests you have a tendency to memorialize tips for choosing the best roaster pan.
You become knowledgeable as to why size, heft (the roaster’s weight) and type of metal contribute to the success of any roasting endeavor.
When considering the heft of a roasting pan, you’ll also need to consider how it’s going to be used.
Not all Roasting Starts in the Oven
How many times have you browned a brisket or seared a rib roast before it went into the oven? There are many roasted dishes that start out with stove-top cooking first.
Then there’s the after roasting. Some of the best flavors come from those browned bits in the bottom of the roasting pan. You’ll generally want to take advantage of any drippings and those little sticky bits to make a deep, rich flavored sauce or gravy. This suggests that in choosing the best roaster pan you consider its stove-top worthiness as well.
A heavier roasting pan is worth its weight in brownability!
One thing many kitchen gourmets fail to consider is safety. Many think about the convenience in cleanup only when choosing that “tinsel” strength aluminum foil pan available at the grocer. Remember, you’re sashaying through the kitchen with a turkey or roast the size of a small appliance.
Anything wiggly and wobbly like the flimsy aluminum foil roaster is not only dangerous but it’s just plain ugly and not worthy as the centerpiece of your feast. Save yourself the embarrassment of a dropped bird or possible trip to the emergency room and know that the best roaster pan will be something of substance.
Getting a Handle on Choosing the Best Roaster Pan
Ever considered a roaster’s handles? They come in all types…straight up from the roasters sides, fold down for easy storage and not so easy handling when cooking, flared out from the sides or no handles at all with just a rim or lip around the perimeter…not so easy to pick up with oven mitts. My preferred handles are those straight up and riveted to the sides with enough room to get a good grip with oven mitts.
Your best roaster pan will have a non-reactive metal interior. Why is this important? Because when deglazing a pan with wine or vinegar or cooking with acidic tomatoes, this can have a chemical reaction with metals like aluminum causing them to discolor and impacting the taste of your food.
No one wants to serve a masterpiece that has an “off-taste” that friends and family can’t quite put their finger on or are too polite to mention. When choosing the best roaster pan, consider any of these options:
- Stainless steel like the Cuisinart Pro-Stainless Roaster
- Hard-anodized aluminum like Calphalon Non-Stick Roaster
- Enamel on steel like KitchenAid’s Enamel on Steel Covered Roaster
An Inexpensive Oven-Only Roasting Option
A good stainless or all-clad hard-anodized aluminum roaster pan will cost you in the neighborhood of $100 to $150 or more depending on the brand.
However, those good old time enameled steel roasting pans, the speckled roasters with the lids you see in popular big box stores like Walmart, Target and Sears work well in the oven.
They are lightweight but not as insubstantial as the disposable aluminum foil style roaster pans. The speckled enamel over steel roasters are not suited to stove top browning but work well as an oven-only option. These pans are not budget busters and cost around $20.00. I have one of the speckled roasters as well as a Calphalon Non-Stick Roaster in my pantry.
Size Matters in Choosing a Roasting Pan
Before making the decision to invest in the best roaster pan for you, measure the inside of your oven so you know what size your oven can accommodate. Just like when you’re baking cookies, you need to ensure you have at least 2 inches of space around your cookie sheet as well as a roasting pan.
Don’t forget to include extra space so you have room to grab the handles when removing that special roast. A roaster measuring 16 inches by 13 inches doesn’t sound like a big roaster but it is. It’s great for turkeys, large cuts of meat and/or chickens surrounded by vegetables.
This is generally a once in a lifetime purchase so investing in stainless will generate years of exceptional use. A large stainless roaster will be heavy and doubly so when you add a 20+ pound bird to it. Adding a set of dumbbells to your shopping list at the beginning of the year will have your arms in shape just in time for any holiday feast.