A roasting rack is a metal rack that is normally set into a roasting pan and used when cooking meat, generally chicken and other poultry, rib roasts, and pork roasts. The roasting rack can be flat or v-shaped, square or oval. Some are adjustable, adding more versatility. They are generally made of stainless steel, but some inexpensive ones can be made of aluminum.
The interconnected metal wires of the roasting rack allow the air to circulate around the meat as it cooks. This not only helps to prevent burning, but it makes the skin of the meat crispy and brown while sealing the juices inside. The roasting rack helps to achieve this effect by keeping the meat away from the juices and fat that drip to the bottom of the pan as the meat cooks. Since the meat will not be resting in the juices, it will not be boiled, and will continue to brown evenly on all sides.
Roasting racks also help avoid steaming the meat instead of browning it. Covering the meat too tightly will cause it to steam, which in turn will keep the skin from browning and crisping nicely. If the meat is elevated, however, more air will be able to circulate around it.
The non-stick coating usually found on roasting racks helps to allow the meat to be removed easily without it sticking and tearing. Roasting racks also often feature handles in addition to those on the the roasting pan, which helps the cook easily lift the meat out of the pan and onto the cutting board. The grease and drippings are left in the bottom of the roasting pan, which can be used to make gravy or sauce.
A roasting rack will generally cost between $10 US Dollars (USD) and $25 USD, depending on whether it is made of stainless steel or aluminum, and if it is adjustable and has a non-stick coating. Various sizes are also available to fit inside different sized roasting pans. If the oven is large enough to accommodate it, a cook may find it best to purchase a larger roasting pan as it will give more versatility in the kitchen.
A roasting rack can be purchased at any kitchen specialty store, along with most department stores and discount stores. It is also possible to purchase roasting racks online. Many roasting pans come with roasting racks, but when they don't, it is a smart investment to improve the quality of food.