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Picking a pan to roast meat

The Baltimore Sun

I would like to purchase a roaster pan for doing turkey, chicken and beef. What kind do you suggest?

To make an intelligent decision, you should first understand what roasting is about. It is a method that involves dry heat to cook a fairly large piece of meat, be it beef, lamb, pork, game or poultry, which includes turkey and duck. While spit-roasting over an open flame was once the preferred way, the term "roasting" now generally is understood as being done in the oven.

Ideally, the radiant oven heat should envelope the meat from all sides, even from underneath, and be intense enough initially to sear the outside and seal the juices in. The meat should not rest on the pan, which is placed merely to catch the drippings, so that it does not cook in its own juices. This pan should not be so deep that the tall sides interfere with the free flow of heat.

Because the roast should be held aloft - to approximate its position on the spit - a thin but sturdy metal rack is essential. It should be tall enough, being footed or crossed in a V-shape, to hold the meat above the accumulated juices. The pan that the rack sits upon is really secondary, but should be sturdy enough to support the meat's weight and be just deep enough to safely contain the drippings. The pan should be of heavy-gauge metal, preferably nonstick, so that the drippings don't burn. They can be part of the gravy later.

I have seen decent roasting pan-and-rack sets being offered at very reasonable prices at discount stores like Bed, Bath & Beyond and Linens 'n Things. You also may buy just a quality rack and place it on a heavy tray or pan you already own. Most ovens come with a broiler pan that also can be turned into a workable roaster. I hope you have enough information now to make a suitable selection.

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