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GADGETS

Give thanks for the right roaster

By Lisa Zwirn
Globe Correspondent / November 12, 2008
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A big bird needs a sturdy pan. At Thanksgiving, cooks usually give plenty of thought to the bird; what is often shortchanged is the pan.

Turkey roasting pans range from flimsy foil rectangles and ovals displayed near the meat case (they're cheap) to heavy-duty stainless steel professional weight pans (priced well over $200). No one needs a pan that costs more than the meal - or is too heavy to lift once you add a 20-pound bird.

Still, there are good roasters that will not break your back or your budget. Sturdy pans are made of heavy-gauge aluminum or stainless steel wrapped around an aluminum core, to allow for efficient heat conduction. These materials won't warp, rust, or dent over time. Some have a nonstick interior, which isn't really necessary. With coated pans, use only the recommended utensils so you don't scratch the surface when cooking or washing.

The pan should be large enough to accommodate your bird, but not so large it won't fit in your oven. Many pans have ergonomic handles to make lifting easier. The sides should be high enough to support a large bird (and whatever vegetables you use) but not high enough to impede airflow around the food, necessary for browning.

Our search yielded three moderately priced roasters; some manufacturers have thrown in useful utensils. The Chef'sDesign French Roaster is heavy-gauge aluminum with nonstick interior and a stainless steel rack (an 18-inch-long pan is $99.99; the 16 1/2-inch pan $79.99). Calphalon's Contemporary Nonstick Roaster (16 inches) comes with a rack, baster, and two turkey lifters ($99.95; for $30 more you can get Calphalon's Contemporary Stainless Steel Roaster). Cuisinart's 16-inch stainless steel pan is paired with a rack, lifters, and an instant-read thermometer ($79.95). They'll all brown your bird beautifully. Alas, they won't make the gravy or wash themselves.

Calphalon roasters are at Crate & Barrel and Bed Bath & Beyond stores, or go to www.calphalon.com. Cuisinart pans are at www.cuisinart.com and www.zabars.com. Chef'sDesign roaster (left) is at www.chefscatalog.com.

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