Should You Put Water in the Bottom of Your Roasting Pan?
Roasting meats and vegetables is not necessarily difficult but there are a few guidelines to keep in mind to ensure that you get the best possible results. One of those is what liquids to add to the pan to add moisture and flavor. Commonly water, fat, or a combination of the two is added in the bottom of the pan. However, while water can potentially increase the moistness of the meat, it can lead to poor browning and uneven cooking.
As a general rule, you should not put water in the bottom of a roasting pan because it will evaporate and steam during the cooking process. As a result, food will not brown properly when placed in the oven.
When it comes down to it, the whole point of roasting is to, uh…roast! And to do this, it’s much better to use a fat or oil of your choice. The fat is what allows the meat to brown and crust during the roasting process, which in turn creates a nice, crispy exterior and a moist interior.
However, ultimately it is a personal choice. In some cases, and depending on the cut of meat, you might want the meat to be ultra moist and fall away from the bone. In this case, water may be the solution, although you might want to use a stock or wine instead to really add flavor.
Why you shouldn’t add water to your roasting pan?
- Your meat or vegetables won’t brown as well in a roasting pan if you add water. We’ve already spoken about this, but adding water is not going to help your meat and vegies to brown. Stick with only using an oil or a solid fat like duck fat or tallow.
- Water doesn’t add flavor. Fat on the other hand will, so if you want more flavorful meat, then use oil or fat.
- It will water down the flavor of drippings left in the roasting pan. If you are wanting to make a really good gravy with the drippings and all of those stuck on pieces left in the bottom of the pan, then you will want to avoid using water. Water will dilute the flavor.
- The water will steam your roast meat instead of roasting it. If you want your meat to steam then add water but if you want it to roast then give water a miss.
- It can make vegetables mushy. If you have added vegies to a pan with water, they will boil instead of roast causing them to be soft on both the inside and outside. In other words, you won’t get that roasted crunchy outer texture. You want them to be crunchy on the outside and soft on the inside.
- It could cause a mess in your oven as the fat drips from the meat into the water causing splatters. If you are using a very large amount of water, or the food you are roasting is very high in moisture content, adding water to the bottom of the pan can cause it to boil, causing a spray of steam that may splatter on the oven walls and ceiling. This combined with the fat from the meat hitting the water can cause the fat/water mix to spit and spray all over your oven.
Do chefs use water in the bottom of their roasting pans?
I did a bit of research to see whether chefs used water in their roasting pans. Most of these are celebrity chefs since they are obviously more likely to share their recipes than say a chef from a restaurant.
I tried to only find recipes that were fairly basic. In other words, they didn’t add too much in the way of spice rubs or herb coatings. I just wanted to see a basic roast.
What I found was that none of the chefs used water in anything they roasted. That’s not to say that they never have used water or won’t in the future – it’s just that I couldn’t find any recipes for those chefs listed below that did. In most cases, they only used an oil like olive oil for instance or a solid fat like butter, lard or duck fat. If they did use a liquid other than oil, it was either stock or wine.
Does Jamie Oliver use water in his roasting pan?
As far as I could tell, Jamie Oliver doesn’t use water in his roasting pan when roasting meats. That’s not to say he doesn’t but in most cases, he simply rubs oil into the meat, seasons it, sears it on all sides, and then places it on a trivet of vegetables to roast.
|MEAT CUT||WATER (Yes/No?)||RECIPE LINK|
Does Gordon Ramsay use water in his roasting pan?
Gordon Ramsay doesn’t appear to use water when roasting. He uses a similar method to Jamie Oliver where he oils and sears the meat before placing it in a roasting pan. I’ve also noticed that he likes to use a trivet as well so he might place a heap of garlic cloves or rosemary under the piece of meat.
Does Nigella Lawson use water in her roasting pan?
Nigella uses mostly oil when cooking roasts however I have seen recipes from her where she also uses a stock or wine in the pan. Either way, I am yet to find anything where she has used only water.
Does Ina Garten (Barefoot Contessa) use water in her roasting pan?
I found a few roasting recipes for Ina Garten but none where she has used water. However, I did find one where she used wine.
|MEAT CUT||WATER (Yes/No?)||RECIPE LINK|
|Pork||No (uses wine)||RECIPE|
Does Heston Blumenthal use water in his roasting pan?
Heston Blumental like the other chefs listed here, doe not use water when roasting meats. He does like to soak his chicken and turkey in a brine solution overnight but will always dry thoroughly before adding fat and roasting.
The Basic Method to Roast Meats without Water
So if you don’t use water, what do you use? I researched a number of different chefs to find out how they roasted their meat (whether that be lamb, beef, chicken, turkey or pork) and the process is very similar.
Of course, research the specific meat you are cooking to get a tried and true recipe but here are the basic steps for roasting meats without water:
- Remove the meat from the fridge one hour before roasting.
- Coat the meat in oil or fat of your choice. Most used olive oil but butter, duck fat or tallow can also be used.
- Season the meat.
- Brown the meat on all sides.
- Oil the roasting pan (some don’t even do this) and place the meat in the pan. You can also create a trivet of sorts (Jamie Oliver loves doing this) by placing vegies under the meat. This lifts the meat up of the bottom of the pan to prevent it from stewing.
- Roast for the recommended time for the type and weight of meat you are cooking.
Should you use water when roasting a turkey?
It is not advisable to put water in the bottom of your roasting pan when cooking a turkey as this can cause the turkey to steam and result in it being too moist.
This may not sound like a bad thing but what can ultimately happen is that you don’t get the nice even browning effect and the meat will start to fall away from the bones. In other words, your turkey could collapse and not look attractive when you bring it to the table.
Do you have to use water when cooking a whole chicken?
Those who use water in their chicken will say that it helps to keep the chicken moist, prevents any scorching on the bottom of the pan, and gives the skin more flavor. If that is what you are going for, then by all means add water to your roasting pan.
However, most chefs avoid using water when roasting a chicken and instead simply oil the chicken and season.
Do you put water in a roasting pan for beef?
Many people are not sure if they should put water in the bottom of their roasting pan when cooking beef. Of course, there are many different opinions on this matter. Some say that water will provide more moisture during the cooking process, which is good for meat.
However, as we have already mentioned, water is going to steam your roast beef and reduce the ability of the meat to roast. In other words, your meat is not going to brown as well and create that nice even crust.
Should you add water to a roasting pan for vegetables?
When roasting vegetables, you don’t want to add water to the bottom of the pan. Vegetables tend to be high in water content and will release water during roasting regardless. It’s best to stick with oil although you can even dry roast many vegetables which means placing them in the pan without water or oil.