Roasting Racks

Published September 1, 2006.

A roasting rack is as unglamorous as it is essential.

Overview:

A roasting rack raises poultry and roasts out of the drippings, while giving the oven's heat easy access to the whole surface—a good start toward a well-rendered exterior. And in general, we prefer V-shaped roasting racks. Why? They hold roasts snugly in place, and we prefer their fixed shape since adjustable racks have a nasty habit of adjusting when you least expect it. Recently, more V-racks have appeared on the market. Are any of them more preferable than our old standby?

Right away, we noted that not all V-racks are actually V-shaped. One had a slight bend that barely qualifies it as a "V" and left no room for roasting vegetables underneath.

Another innovative design is shaped like a trough with a hinge at the center. Remove the dowel from the hinge and the rack comes apart, dropping the roast onto a platter or cutting board. While it worked fine, this rack was another that didn't elevate the roast enough, and its size (15 inches by 11 1/2 inches) made it a tight squeeze in all but the largest pan.

In addition to shape,… read more

A roasting rack raises poultry and roasts out of the drippings, while giving the oven's heat easy access to the whole surface—a good start toward a well-rendered exterior. And in general, we prefer V-shaped roasting racks. Why? They hold roasts snugly in place, and we prefer their fixed shape since adjustable racks have a nasty habit of adjusting when you least expect it. Recently, more V-racks have appeared on the market. Are any of them more preferable than our old standby?

Right away, we noted that not all V-racks are actually V-shaped. One had a slight bend that barely qualifies it as a "V" and left no room for roasting vegetables underneath.

Another innovative design is shaped like a trough with a hinge at the center. Remove the dowel from the hinge and the rack comes apart, dropping the roast onto a platter or cutting board. While it worked fine, this rack was another that didn't elevate the roast enough, and its size (15 inches by 11 1/2 inches) made it a tight squeeze in all but the largest pan.

In addition to shape, handles were a decisive factor. Tall, vertical handles make removing the rack easy, even with bulky oven mitts. Horizontal handles, or no handles at all, make removal nearly impossible. In our tests, we also noticed that handle position matters. When located on the short sides of a rectangular rack they can get in the way of the roasting pan's handles. We prefer handles positioned on the long side of the rack.

Our winner is large enough to hold two small chickens and has the features we like. With its handles on the short side, our old standby is now a distant runner-up.

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