Make sure to measure your oven first -- to ensure proper air circulation, there should be a minimum of 2" of space between the roast pan and each side of the oven's walls. The pan should be roomy enough to hold the largest item you will be roasting without coming in contact with the sides of the pan. To maximize air convection and reduce cooking time, a 1" - 2" space between your food and the roast pan sides is desired. This will allow the roast to brown on the sides.
Whereas heat conductivity and responsiveness are essential characteristics of fine top-of-the- stove cookware, they are much less important when selecting a roast or bake pan.
In the oven you want the dry hot air to circulate evenly around the product. At Broadway Panhandler we stock roast pans that vary from 1" to over 5" deep. In our opinion, a roast pan approximately 3" deep is a good choice for most roasting needs and is best suited to ensure proper roasting by promoting good heat convection and uniform cooking. Pans over 4" tend to retain more moisture than shallower pans. Depending on what you are roasting and the roast pan depth, you can experiment by leaving the oven door slightly ajar to allow moisture to escape from the oven cavity. Disagreement still exists about the benefits and characteristics of deep and shallow roast pans, as well as oven temperatures and the use of meat thermometers.
Roast Pan Characteristics
The pan's thickness and heft and sturdy feel of the handles become very important considerations when cooking a large roast. Accidents are just waiting to happen when cooking a 15-20 pound roast in a lightweight flimsy pan with small handles. With a heavy weight pan you not only have a greater sense of security when moving the pan in or out of the oven, the pan is also less likely to warp. A good one with a fixed handle will probably last your lifetime. Heavy weigh roast pans are also de rigueur for stovetop deglazing and gravy-making.
When selecting your pan, grasp the handles securely, using a mitt or towel to simulate conditions at home, imagine it is loaded to capacity. Can you hold the pan comfortable and securely? The handles should be attached with multiple large spot-welds or heavy duty rivets. Also, make sure to know the dimensions of your oven to ensure that your roast pan of choice fits. Other features to look for include:
- Large radiused corners for access to pan drippings and ease of cleaning.
- Flared rims allow easier pouring of liquids from the pan and are convenient for securing aluminum foil as a cover.
- Heavy bottom thickness allows for best heat distribution during stove top gravy making.
Stove Top Deglazing
One of the benefits of owning a heavy duty roasting pan is that you can deglaze it right on your stove top to capture all of the essential flavors of your pan drippings, making wonderful gravies and sauces. Here's how:
First, remove as much fat as desired from the roast pan. Gradually add approximately 1 cup of stock or broth and/or wine (for 6-8 people) to the pan, scraping the deposits away from the sides of the pan. Bring to a boil. The longer the meat has been roasting, the more intense the flavor of the drippings will be. The result will be unthickened gravy, au jus. If you want to produce a thickened gravy, remove a small amount of the liquid to a cup or small bowl. Add about a teaspoon of cornstarch to the liquid and dissolve. Return thickening mixture to the pan and stir. If you still prefer thicker gravy, repeat the procedure with about 1 tsp. of cornstarch. (do not add the thickening agent directly to the liquid in the roasting pan).