Roasting Pan Tips From Some Butterball Lady

Mary Clingman, the director of Butterball’s help line, gave Newsday some advice on finding a good roasting pan for your Thanksgiving dinner. Her advice: get a shallow pan 2 to 2 1/2 inches deep that’s large enough to place a rack inside to sit the turkey on. You can buy a new, reusable one at a restaurant supply store or Sur La Table for between $35 and $200, but the next best thing is a cheap disposable aluminum one from the supermarket: “Place four-five whole carrots on the bottom and rest the turkey on them. Put a cookie sheet underneath the foil pan for extra support.”

Make sure whatever you buy conducts heat well:

I once took a call from a frustrated caller who bought a very nice, very expensive, covered, stainless-steel pan and couldn’t figure out why their Thanksgiving turkey was taking hours longer to cook. It was actually the pan: The metal and covered top didn’t conduct heat well.

“Shopping for a roasting pan” [Newsday]
(Photo: Getty)


Edit Your Comment

  1. bohemian says:

    I saw this trick on some Food TV show. The restaurant in the piece roasts turkeys breast side down. The theory is that there is more fat on the underside so it drips through the rest of the bird self basting it.

    We did one like this last week using the cooking time on the label, didn’t have to touch it once and it tasted great. It also made it uh, self carving. We pulled it out of the pan and turned it breast side up on the platter and the entire thing unfolded open and pretty much parted itself out.

  2. You want to conduct heat? Then go BACK to Sur La Table, and stick the turkey in one of their mugs.

  3. @GitEmSteveDave: Ha ha ha

  4. synergy says:

    @bohemian: My mother’s done that one for years. It works great!

    The bit about placing it on carrots is a new one to me, though. I might try that someday.

  5. @bohemian: I go with Alton Browns trick of brining my turkeys and turkey breasts. That and I use a probe thermo instead of the point poppy thing. They always come out great and juicy.

    For interesting flavors, I bought a reusable 30cc syringe from one of our farm catalogs, and use a 14 gauge needle to inject all over. Since the needle is meant to deliver stuff under the skin, and to keep it there, I find that while harder to push stuff through than the ones you get in stores, once it’s in, it stays in. When you cut the meat, you’ll see these brown spots throughout the meat that is the bbq sauce I used. YUM.

  6. magic8ball says:

    Two questions:
    1. What is the purpose of the carrots in that scenario?
    2. Obviously I want a roasting pan that conducts heat, but I would have assumed that roasting pans would ALL be made to conduct heat. Apparently they’re not. How can I tell which ones conduct heat and which ones don’t?

  7. littlejohnny says:

    1) Not 100% sure, but I think the carrots are to elevate the turkey off the bottom of the pan.
    2) I don’t think the article is correct by attributing the slow cooking time to poor conductivity of the pan. I think that the slow cooking time was due to the fact the pan was covered. I’m pretty sure if you covered any pan even with tin foil you would significantly increase the cooking time of the turkey.

  8. Dervish says:

    @GitEmSteveDave: To be fair, brining isn’t exactly Alton Brown’s trick. It’s a very common method of preparing poultry and pork.

    @littlejohnny: Yes, it’s to elevate the turkey so that it’s held up out of it’s own drippings. This is part of why people often use a roasting rack – the other reason being that it allows hot air to circulate under the bird.

  9. Alvis says:

    If you don’t rotisserie it, you’re not cooking it proper.

  10. @magic8ball: Also, the carrots flavor any pan drippings which makes for some tasty gravy. I would suggest using a combo of celery and carrots though.

  11. Vicky says:

    Years back we took a number of fresh herbs and spread them, as whole sprigs, under the skin of the turkey. When it was cooked, the skin tightened around them and the effect was both beautiful and delicious. Worth a try if you’re looking for something new.

  12. Hinomura says:

    yeah having the carrots underneath is a great idea. I mean who wants soggy skin? gross. but nice aerated crispy skin mmmm…*drool*

  13. SoCalGNX says:

    A decent roasting pan (with cover) costs only a little more than the disposable aluminum ones. You then have a pan for following years and other foods. I always cover mine and use a meat thermometer. I take the lid off about the last hour or so and use a small amount of water on the bottom of the pan. The turkey is always perfectly tender with nice brown, crispy skin.
    The carrot trick sounds good.

  14. heat_sink says:

    Why stop with carrots? As a previous poster mentioned, celery works
    well. You can also use onions, potatoes, sweet potatoes, turnips, etc.
    Put a little bit of oil in so they don’t burn before the drippings can
    keep them moist. I do this, not just because I’m too lazy to buy a rack
    for my rosting pan, but because it’s tasty. Throw some garlic in about
    30 minutes before the bird expected to be done.

    And don’t forget to let the bird rest for 10-15 minutes after taking it out, before you carve!

  15. Capsu78 says:

    Regarding brining, the folks at Americas Test Kitchen say a supermarket Butterball already has a brine in it. Any Turkey that touts “added liquid” or “added salt” on the label already is in the brined state and rebrining risks getting a very unhealthy dose of salt.