This actually happened to a friend of ours last year: She had cleaned out the turkey, rubbed it with her marinade, and was ready to put it in the oven when she realized that she had a roasting pan but no rack! If you find yourself without a "real" roasting rack with hours to go before dinner, here are some quick solutions to MacGyver your way to roasted perfection.
Whether we're talking a 20-pound turkey, a fryer chicken, or even something like a leg of lamb, a rack helps lift the roast away from direct heat of the pan and allows hot air to circulate underneath. The roast cooks more evenly and tends to develop a crispier skin.
But if you find yourself without a rack, dinner isn't ruined! Instead of running to the store, try one of these solutions:
- Potatoes and Onions: Chop several potatoes and onions in large chunks and lay them in the roasting pan in a single layer. The bird is held up on a bed of vegetables, and as a bonus, you get roasted veggies cooked in the chicken juices! For a heavy turkey, try cutting the potatoes and onions in half to form a sturdier bed.
- Crumpled-Foil Rack: Take a few long sheets of foil and crumple them into ropes. You can either coil the ropes into a spiral or arrange them in a figure-8 to hold the chicken or turkey above the pan.
- Wire Cooling Rack: If your pan is big enough, a wire cooling rack — the kind used to cool cookies — can serve double-duty as a roasting rack. Toaster oven racks and metal microwave racks can also work for smaller pans.
Have you discovered any other great substitutes for an absent roasting rack?
This post has been updated. Originally published November 25, 2008.