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Choosing a turkey roasting pan for Thanksgiving 

Choosing a Turkey roasting pan for Thanksgiving

By Editor, November 23, 10:30am

Most of us don’t think too much about a turkey roasting pan until we realize it’s our turn to host Thanksgiving dinner and we panic, thinking “What the heck am I supposed to cook the turkey in?” Unless you’re one of the lucky ones who long ago realized the everyday value of a good-quality, go-to roasting pan, you might have one that never sees the light of day until Thanksgiving, or you dash out to purchase the one-time use aluminum pans.

Once you own a roasting pan,  you’ll see what an essential tool it is in your cooking arsenal. The clearest advantage is its size: It can easily hold a 16-pound turkey. While it’s typically associated with cooking a turkey at Thanksgiving, it’s also ideal for roasting poultry, ham and beef all year round.

ALSO TRY: Oven roasted turkey with BBQ sauce

There’s more to purchasing a roasting pan than meets the eye, though. You have several things to consider before you choose just the right one. Luckily, we’ve done the research for you so you can make an informed decision.

SIZE

With roasting pans, size does matter, so let’s begin there. Even the greatest roasting pan becomes worthless if it won’t fit in your oven. So, the first thing to do is measure how big your oven is: width and depth. Take this into account as you do your shopping and don’t forget to include the handles of the roasting pan in your measurement.

Whatever you’re roasting should fit in the pan without touching its sides. This allows for good air circulation and ensures that all sides cook and brown evenly

ALSO TRY: Herbed roasted turkey with shallot gravy

Bigger is not necessarily better, however. A pan that’s too big will allow the juices to collect on the bottom, where they can evaporate quickly and burn. You want less surface space so the juices collect in a deeper pool. One way to work with a pan that is a bit too big is to fill the space with vegetables, which helps prevent the juices from evaporating and burning.

When in doubt, remember: A big pan can cook small things, but not vice versa.

DEPTH

The depth of a roasting pan is important for a couple of reasons. First, you want the sides high enough to avoid the hot liquid splashing out onto the floor of your oven, causing lots of smoke, or onto you as you are basting, causing burns. Second, you want the pan to be able to hold additional items, such as potatoes and vegetables.

On the other hand, a pan that is too high means the air will rise more quickly and the food will not be cooked thoroughly. A pan with sides of 3 to 4 inches is ideal.

SHAPE

Rectangular versus oval? These two shapes each have advantages. Oval roasting pans work well with oval-shaped roasts; the lack of corners makes whisking a gravy or sauce easy as pie, too. They have limits when cooking multiple items, though, because of the loss of surface area.

The right angles of rectangular roasting pans provide a little extra room. This makes them better for cooking multiple items, but less convenient for whisking.

A rectangular roasting pan with rounded corners? That’s the best of both worlds.

WEIGHT

Is a heavier or lighter pan the best choice? Turns out it’s somewhere in the middle. You want a pan that is heavy enough to feel sturdy when lifting it and won’t twist or turn on you, risking burns. Then again, you don’t want it to be so heavy that it is difficult to lift.

Pans on the slightly heavier side also guarantee more even heat distribution and less chance of burned drippings.

ROASTING PAN MATERIALS

Let’s break it down what you need to consider in choosing the type of pan:

Copper

Cons: Expensive; difficult to keep looking good; reactive to acidic foods

Stainless steel

Pros: Durable; maintains flavor of food; good heat distribution; appearance
Cons: Can be expensive; poor heat conductivity unless it has a bonded aluminum
or copper base, which adds to the price

Aluminum

Pros: Lightweight; affordable
Cons: Soft metal warps and dents easily; reacts with acidic ingredients; stains easily

Cast iron

Pros: Durable; inexpensive; naturally non-stick if seasoned correctly; good heat distribution
Cons: Very heavy; somewhat reactive to acidic foods; takes longer to heat up; more difficult to maintain appearance

Non-stick finishes

These aren’t recommended at all. Not only are non-stick materials difficult to maintain, they scratch, peel and chip easily. Their coating can be destroyed if placed in an oven hotter than 400F. Some non-stick coatings have even been the subject of health concerns. Last in this cons-only list: When roasting, you need a “sticky” pan so you can deglaze all the delicious drippings.

RACK OR NO RACK?

This one comes down to personal preference. A rack raises the meat off the bottom of the pan, allowing air to circulate freely. When the meat sits on the bottom, it can become soggy and lacks the crispy, brown skin we love. A rack also allows the drippings to collect on the bottom of the pan so you can use them in a delicious gravy.

On the flip side, racks can be heavy and awkward to handle. They also tend to collect some of the drippings, which can get stuck and are then difficult to remove. Without the bulk of the food sitting on the pan to absorb the heat, the juice can evaporate too quickly.

TYPES OF ROASTING PANS

Covered

Typically made of anodized aluminum or enameled steel, these come with lids to keep the food covered as it cooks. Food cooked in a covered roasting pan tends to be juicy inside and crispy outside. (For crispiest skin, take the cover off for the last 30 minutes of cooking time.) A word of caution: If your lid does not have a steam vent, be careful when taking the lid off to check the food’s progress. Steam can shoot out and cause burns.

Open

For some cooks, going lidless is the only way to roast a turkey, because it tends to result in crispier skin than using a covered pan. The downside is that it also can produce a slightly drier bird.

Electric

This option’s convenient because it’s so portable, and it’s perfect for slow cooking. It excels at retaining heat and keeping food warmer longer. In general, the cooking time and temperature settings are the same as for a conventional oven.

Disposable

These are the single-use aluminum pans you see everywhere as Thanksgiving approaches. When choosing an aluminum pan, always go for the heavier, better- quality choice; it ensures a safer cooking experience. Disposable roasters tend to be extremely flimsy, so place a metal baking sheet under it so your turkey doesn’t flop onto the kitchen floor when you’re lifting it from the oven. Take care when using knives; they can pierce and cut through the aluminum easily.

ROASTING PAN ALTERNATIVES

If you know you won’t use a roasting pan more than once or twice a year, then purchasing a new one may not be your best option. In this case, you might be able to use something you already have to prepare a Thanksgiving turkey.

You’ll need an oven-safe dish with sides that are at least tall enough to collect the drippings: a cast-iron or stainless-steel skillet, large casserole dish, broiler pan, or other similar, large special-purpose pan. Don’t have a rack? Just set the bird on top of a pile of potatoes and vegetables.

One final option: Borrow a roasting pan. There’s a decent chance a friend, neighbor or family member has one that’s not being used.

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Our 8 Best Thanksgiving Recipes of All Time

Our 8 Best Thanksgiving Recipes of All  Time

By Editor.Adetoun, November 20th, 2017

Courtesy Epicurious

 Thanksgiving Day is traditionally a day for families and friends to get together for a special meal. The meal often includes a turkey, stuffing, potatoes, cranberry sauce, gravy, pumpkin pie, and vegetables. Thanksgiving Day is a time for many people to give thanks for what they have.

Thanksgiving Day parades are held in some cities and towns on or around Thanksgiving Day. Some parades or festivities also mark the opening of the Christmas shopping season. Some people have a four-day weekend so it is a popular time for trips and to visit family and friends.

These are the recipes that you, our readers, can’t stop raving about in your reviews, and come back to year after year. Put them all together into one Thanksgiving feast, and you’ll have a menu that can’t lose.

THE SAVORY STUFF

1. A DRY-BRINED TURKEY WITH SHALLOT-DIJON GRAVY

We can all agree that bringing a turkey helps ensure a well-seasoned and moist bird, but a traditional brine can be messy, and immersing a turkey in a vat of liquid takes up a lot of space in the fridge. That’s why we love salting the turkey (aka dry brining) instead. In this top-rated recipe, the turkey gets infused not just with salt, but aromatic rosemary, sage, thyme, bay leaves, and lemon zest. Pair it with a rich gravy flavored with shallots, white wine, and dijon, you’ve got a no-fail recipe for the best Thanksgiving turkey ever.

The flavor is exactly what you would think a Thanksgiving turkey should taste like in your mind.” “Juicy and delicious as promised…” “Everyone from age 1 to 65 RAVED about this recipe. This will be our third year and will be the ‘family recipe’ from here on.” “Outstanding. This is THE recipe after several years of trying others from other brines to Martha Stewart. It browned beautifully [and] was so juicy.

GET THIS RECIPE

2. COULDN’T-BE-EASIER CRANBERRY SAUCE

There’s no need to overcomplicate cranberry sauce. This recipe allows the flavor of cranberry to shine through, with just sugar, orange zest, and a pinch of salt to enhance it. The result is a well-balanced condiment any turkey would be happy to share a plate with.

“The zest really brings a nice flavor to the berries. You Will definitely love this again and again.” “This is a keeper! Nice balance of sweet and tart.”

GET THIS RECIPE

BASIC CRANBERRY SAUCE

3. THE SIMPLEST STUFFING (AKA DRESSING)

Whether you call it dressing or stuffing, this is our most popular version of all time. Sure, it’s simple—just like the name says—but it’s also delicious. With torn white bread, onions, celery, a heavy-handed dose of herbs, and plenty of butter, this is the recipe that thousands of people turn to at Thanksgiving each year. If you use vegetable broth instead of chicken, it can serve any vegetarians at your table, too.

GET THIS RECIPE

“SIMPLE IS BEST” DRESSING

ADD TO RECIPES

Our pantheon of classic dishes looks pretty darn delicious.

4. SWEET POTATOES THAT WILL KNOCK YOUR SOCKS OFF

Infused with maple and vanilla and topped with enough brown sugar to make an irresistible crackly crust, this sweet potato casserole definitely walks on the sweet side. The addition of the eggs adds richness and helps the sweet potatoes puff up a little when baked, too.

GET THIS RECIPE

MASHED SWEET POTATOES WITH BROWN SUGAR AND PECANS

5. THE CREAMIEST, DREAMIEST MASHED POTATOES

Sweet potatoes and mashed potatoes at Thanksgiving? Why not? We went through rounds of testing in the Epi test kitchen to come up with our favorite mashed potato recipe, which has just a touch of garlic, thyme, and our secret ingredient: tangy sour cream. They’re light and fluffy yet rich and creamy—everything you want your mashed potatoes to be.

GET THIS RECIPE

OUR FAVORITE MASHED POTATOES

6. EASY YET ELEGANT GREEN BEANS

With so many rich dishes on the table at Thanksgiving, it’s nice to have something fresh and crunchy to balance out the meal. A tangy herb butter adorns these green beans, which are quickly cooked on the stovetop, freeing up oven space for other things (like pie!).

These were simple, delicate, and delicious. “Wonderful, beautifully flavored, a real treat on the plate. “Definitely a ‘quick [and] easy’ winner, tasteful, and versatile—you can use this herbed butter on many things. LOVE it!” “Such a simple little thing to do, and such a fabulous result. This herb butter added a delicate and tasty accent to the beans.”

GET THIS RECIPE

HARICOTS VERTS WITH HERB BUTTER

ADD TO RECIPES

THE SWEET STUFF

How to choose between three iconic Thanksgiving pies? Why choose at all?

PHOTO BY CHELSEA KYLE, PROP STYLING BY ALEX BRANNIAN, FOOD STYLING BY ALI NARDI

7. A PECAN PIE WITH A TWIST OF CITRUS

This virtually foolproof pecan pie has a sweet custard filling that’s loaded with nuts. Orange zest brings a fresh dimension to the flavor and helps tone down the sweetness, but you can reduce or omit it if you prefer pure unadulterated pecan pie.

GET THIS RECIPE

OLD-FASHIONED PECAN PIE

ADD TO RECIPES

8. A CLASSIC DOUBLE-CRUST APPLE PIE

Pure butter and a touch of apple cider vinegar makes this pie crust tender, flaky, and just plain heavenly. The Epi test kitchen tried all kinds of apples, and chose Honeycrisp and Braeburn since they hold up well during baking and have a lovely balance of sweet and tart flavor. Less sugar than some recipes and a light dusting of cinnamon and nutmeg really help their flavor shine through.

GET THIS RECIPE

OUR FAVORITE APPLE PIE

ADD TO RECIPES

Thanksgiving 2017 is a time for many people to give thanks for what they have. Presently, it has become a day for families and friends to get together for a special meal. The meal often includes a turkey, stuffing, potatoes, cranberry sauce, gravy, pumpkin pie, and vegetables. Volunteering is a common Thanksgiving Day 2018 activity, and communities often hold food drives and host free dinners for the less fortunate. Parades have also become an important part of the holiday in cities and towns across the United States.

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