If you own a roasting pan, you are probably like 99% of other Americans that take it out once a year to cook a turkey or roast for the holidays. There really is no shame in this. There is actually very little information out there on how to use a roasting pan in your everyday rotation and even less information as to why you should invest in one.

But this article is not for those of you that already own a roasting pan. This article is for the holiday cooks who buy the disposable roasting pans at the supermarket for around $4 and try to cook a 20 pound turkey inside its flimsy walls. Don’t let the packaging fool you. They have different sizes for different sized birds, but in the end, physics and gravity still play a vital role in the cooking process.

My message to those of you who are disposable pan buyers is simple and straight forward:

You have to stop the madness!

I present to you my top five reasons for investing in a quality roasting pan over their rival disposable.

5. Better for the environment: Perhaps my weakest argument, but still. A roasting pan gets cleaned up and put away until its next use while a disposable gets tossed away and sent to a landfill to sit for centuries.

4. Multi-purpose: Turkey, chicken, pork tenderloin, pork shoulder, prime rib, etc. The list of potential cuts in nearly endless, but the point is that your roasting pan is worthy of more than just one use. But wait, there’s more. Not only can the roasting pan be used for different meats, it can also be used for multiple steps in the cooking process. Need to sear your prime rib before cooking it? Just remove the rack and put the pan over two burners. Want to cook some root vegetables with your meal? Just stick them under your meat. Not only will everything come out hot together, the juices dripping off the meat will season your vegetables.

3. Easier clean up: This is one area that disposable lovers have tried to get me on for years, but my retort is air tight. Yes, at the end of a meal, the disposable pan gets tossed away and that’s it. However, in my world, it’s never that simple. What happens if your flimsy disposable has a tiny hole in it and turkey juice begins to drip into your oven creating a solid mass of carbon that no amount of oven cleaner or scrubbing will take off? What happens if on your way to delivering your turkey from the oven to the counter, the flimsy pan buckles under the weight and not only does the turkey hit the floor, but hot juice scalds you and ruins your nice new shoes? I find the potential risk of using a disposable to far outweigh the ease of throwing away a pan at the end of the night. Besides, you’ll have very little to clean up if you consider number two.

2. Ability to make pan sauces: Roasting pans are long enough to cover two burners making it easy to turn your post dinner cooking vessel into a stovetop pan that is ready to make some gravy. Pan sauces, especially after cooking a roast turkey or chicken, are wildly tasty and require no additional kitchen equipment. In fact, the idea of not using more vessels to make a pan sauce makes clean up even easier and by deglazing the pan, you’re going to cook out the worst of the mess from the pan. But if even after all this, consider taking a moment and….

1. Just look at that rack: The rack is put there not as a storage challenge; it’s put there to keep the meat off the bottom of the pan and out of the fat. While roasting, the fat on the meat tends to melt off and drips into the bottom of the pan. Disposable pans do not come equipped with a rack leaving your roast to sit for hours in its own fat. The rack also allows for more air to move around the meat which will give you even cooking and that crispy skin that you’re craving.

Roasting pans are generally inexpensive and by no means should you feel obligated to spend more than $50. I find that most stores offer a great bargain during the holiday season, and almost every department store will have a bargain basement deal on roasting pans the day after Thanksgiving. As for recommendations, ensure that the pan is made of aluminum (plain or hard anodized) in order to keep the weight down and that the handles are riveted to the pan. Some roasting pans have the handles fused to the sides. This is a problem because the handles will heat up as hot as the pan and the handles have more potential to break off over years of use. Calphalon and Cuisinart make a pretty decent pan in general and I find their roasting pans to be fit for the job.

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