We test roasting pans
ALUMINIUM is light, with excellent heat conductivity, but leaching can occur with acidic ingredients. It’s a soft metal that warps and dents easily, and can stain. Anodised aluminium prevents leaching.
CAST IRON distributes heat evenly and retains it well. It’s really durable, but usually too heavy to handle. It’s best to opt for enamel-coated cast iron as uncoated cast iron can react to acidic foods. Take care when handling enamel-coated pans – they can chip and crack.
NONSTICK pans need less oil and clean more easily, but they don’t brown as quickly as others. Most are coated with Teflon, a known toxin that may leach at very high temperatures. In cheaper pans the coating is likely to flake.
Oval pans work well with similarly shaped roasts. Rectangular pans are more spacious. Size-wise, go for whatever suits your needs, but the pan must accommodate the largest roasting item without it touching the sides, and allow adequate circulation of air for roasting and browning.
HOW LOW TO GO?
The height of the sides makes all the difference in roasting and browning. Low sides allow hot air to circulate around the entire piece of meat, cooking and browning it well. High-sided pans prevent hot air circulating round the lower parts of the meat during roasting. Medium height is best.
COPPER Excellent conductor of heat; performs exceptionally. It can react to foods, and should always be lined with stainless steel. Trendy – but pricey.
STAINLESS STEEL generally performs well. It is durable and non-reactive, but can heat unevenly.
Your pan should be solid when handling and heavy enough to handle heat without warping, but not hard to lift. Heavier pans usually perform better, as heat is more evenly distributed.
GET A HANDLE ON
Straight, solid, metal handles riveted to the pan are best. Fold-down handles are great for storage, but they’re flimsy, and tricky to grip. Make sure the handles are sturdy and accommodate oven mitts.
ON THE RACK
Whether you need a rack or not is a matter of preference. There are different types: V- and basket racks cradle meat in place. Some V-racks are adjustable and easily hold a variety of meats; V-racks work brilliantly on the grill and in the oven. Flat racks don’t hold the roast in place. Vertical poultry racks, hold poultry upright, searing all round.
Before deciding on a size (including handles!), measure your oven. • Choose a sturdy rack that fits inside your pan and allows at least a 5cm space between your roast and the grill. ✤