Growing up, I'd begin our Thanksgiving ritual with a trip down to the furnace room to retrieve my mother's roasting pan: dark-blue speckled enamel, deep, and wide enough for a large turkey, but light enough to lift with one hand. I'm the one cooking the turkey now, and while I often see those blue pans at tag sales, I'm not tempted to get one, despite the tug of nostalgia they produce.
The right pan makes Thanksgiving easier
I love the idea that you can cook well with an inexpensive piece of equipment, but I think in the case of a roasting pan, heavy-duty construction is key. Unfortunately, heavy-duty doesn't come at tag-sale prices. But you shouldn't pay a lot for a pan that will stay in the basement for most of the year. Investing in a well-designed, beautifully crafted pan can make roasting the Thanksgiving turkey easier, and can also allow you to:
- roast meats, poultry, and even fish
- make great gravy or pan sauces
- braise meats, poultry, and vegetables
- roast potatoes and other vegetables
- bake big batches of lasagne, enchiladas, shepherd's pie, or cobbler
- use the pan as a water bath for baking custards or soufflés.
Before you decide on a pan, you'll need to think about how you cook so you'll know which specific features can make a difference to you. I thought about what I really wanted from a pan, and I also talked to several of our contributors to find out what they value in a roasting pan.