From Season 6: Let's Talk Turkey
How often do you use a roasting pan? Is it once or twice a year for a big holiday roast? A really nice roasting pan can easily retail for $200, but it doesn't make sense to spend so much money on a flashy pan that will sit in a cabinet most of the year, (especially since the $200+ model we’ve previously used in the test kitchen proved it couldn’t stand up to stovetop heat.) We wanted to find a utilitarian model, for a reasonable price.
Selecting which pans to test was easy. Since, to develop flavor, we often sear meat before roasting it, we chose pans that were flameproof and could be used on the stovetop; aluminum disposables, Pyrex, stoneware, and ceramic pans were out. We also wanted a pan that could accommodate a big holiday turkey with ease, so 15 by 11 inches was our minimum size. We wanted to be able to broil and roast at high heat, so we eliminated pans with nonstick finishes.
The best handles are sturdy and easy to grip with thick potholders and don't protrude far enough upward or outward to become a hazard. Our testers preferred upright, riveted handles, neither too thick nor too small.
The last thing you want to hear when you're working with a hot roasting pan—and its sizzling contents—on the stovetop is the "pop" of the pan buckling, which can send scalding-hot projectiles onto your arms. Buckling is also a telltale symptom of uneven heating, which leads to uneven cooking and browning. Most of the lighter pans buckled on the stovetop and produced food with spotty browning. The heaviest pans didn't buckle and were better at browning.
Stainless steel is attractive, nonreactive, lightweight, and relatively durable. It's also a poor conductor of heat, making it no surprise that our two top-performing pans featured an aluminum core inside the stainless steel. Aluminum is a superior metal for fast and even heat conductivity, which translates into no buckling and more responsive cooking—especially on the stovetop. The rest of the lineup was made of plain stainless steel or porcelain-enameled steel—fine materials for roasting a turkey in the oven (where the conductivity of the pan is not as important, as the food cooks mostly by radiant heat), but not well suited to the stovetop.
Victorinox (formerly Victorinox Forschner) 6-inch Straight Boning Knife: Flexible
The nonslip grip and narrow, straight blade let testers remove the smallest bones with precision and complete comfort. Perfectly balanced with enough flexibility to maneuver around tight joints. The low price was a bonus.
|★ ★ ★||★ ★ ★||$19.95|
Wüsthof Classic Boning Knife
Hefty in weight, this knife was a solid performer when removing poultry bones, and the handle was easy to grip, even when covered in chicken fat. Piercing silver skin was a challenge since the tip wasnt sharp enough and the long narrow blade produced slightly jagged cuts.
|★ ★||★ ★ ★||$99.95|
|Recommended with Reservations|
Mundial Boning Knife: Flexible
The sharp tip performed well when removing silver skin, but it was too flexible when maneuvering around poultry joints, leaving testers feeling a lack of control. The heavy handle was slightly unbalanced and became slippery once covered in poultry fat.
|★ ★||★ ★||$19.95|
Shun Gokujo Filet Knife
Designed to replicate a samurai blade, this expensive knife was a disappointment. It struggled to pierce the silver skin, although long cuts were smooth and even. Minimal flexibility and extreme curve got in the way when maneuvering around joints. The smooth handle was hard to grip and slippery.
MAC Boning KnifeChef Series
The large, cumbersome handle reminded testers of an outdoors knife for fishing and hunting. The blade was too wide to maneuver around joints and it struggled to pierce silver skin. Unlike other knives, this boning knife could only slice in one direction, making intricate cuts around joints difficult.
Messermeister San Moritz Elite Flexible Boning Knife
The blade was so flexible it led to erratic cuttings; testers said the knife was hard to control. The blade was not sturdy enough to maneuver around joints and the lightweight handle felt flimsy and unbalanced.