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Is it common to cook food directly on the oven racks? I often do this (with a container for drippings) and was wondering if this is common or if there is a better solution. It has worked out fine for me, but sometimes replacing these racks can be costly. I do not replace them often, and they are not very hard to clean, but I would like to get some ideas on if I am doing this wrong.

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Just out of curiosity, what types of food are you cooking directly on the racks? Something like roasts or something completely different? I have never cooked anything directly on the racks. –  duchessofstokesay Dec 22 '10 at 20:39
    
I've cooked bacon. I've also prepared many different recipes that say to use a grill. –  Naomi Campbell Dec 22 '10 at 20:40
    
Why not use a tray? I've never cooked directly on the racks either. –  talon8 Dec 22 '10 at 20:44
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I have a convection oven and cook all i can on the racks, since air doesn't flow too well through solid trays. I think I get a better finish on all sides of roasts that way. I've never had to replace my racks I run the self-clean cycle with the rack in, and then use the dish-washer. –  boxed-dinners Dec 23 '10 at 14:37
    
The only thing I cook directly on the rack is jacket/baked potatoes. Has to be pretty clean. –  Orbling Dec 28 '10 at 19:50

6 Answers 6

up vote 10 down vote accepted

Presumably the reason you're cooking directly on the oven rack is to let the fat drip down. If so, do yourself a favour and get yourself a roasting rack. It's an inexpensive piece of equipment that you place in a baking pan or on a cookie sheet; the food cooks on the rack and the pan/sheet catches all the drippings. Way better than trying to replace an entire oven rack.

And if you really hate cleanup, you can line the pan with parchment paper or aluminum foil and just throw the rack in the dishwasher when you're done.

Baking/Roasting Rack

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And if you're using the broiler part of your oven, consider using a broiler pan, made specifically for this kind of thing. The juices/fat can still drip away from the food, but it all stays contained and is very easy to clean up. It's a good bet that your oven originally came with a broiler pan, actually. –  bikeboy389 Dec 23 '10 at 14:31
    
Does a broiling pan work well even when I'm not using the broiler? I was digging through the bottom drawer in my oven and found one of these. I am considering using it, but I was unsure if this was going to work well for everything that the oven racks are good for. I do like the oven rack idea. If there are significant advantages to using an oven rack over the broiler pan, I would consider purchasing one. –  Naomi Campbell Dec 23 '10 at 16:21
    
@Naomi: You can, although a broiling pan is almost the opposite of a roasting rack, it's got small openings in an otherwise solid pan. It's probably worth a try, but I don't find it works quite as well for evenly crisping up food over a long roasting period, and the bottom still ends up a little soggy sometimes. When you're broiling it's not really a big deal because you'd only be doing it for a few minutes at a time. –  Aaronut Dec 23 '10 at 16:27

I would suggest that the answer is that it isn't common. I would normally use sheet pans/trays and a rack on top of that. It's much easier to put food in and out of the oven that way.

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This is what I do as well. –  justkt Dec 23 '10 at 13:11

If you want to continue to cook on the racks in this way there is no need to ever replace them. When mine get really dirty I use this oven cleaner you just put the racks in a bag with the cleaner and the next morning they look brand new. It's probably horrible for the environment but can't be worse than producing new racks just beacuse mine are dirty.

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Before I got a pizza stone I'd put store bought pizzas straight onto the rack as it gave a better crust.

The only reason I can think of doing it is basically laziness - I'd do it with cheese on toast if the grill pan was too dirty to use.

I'd also sometimes do baked potatoes without a tray as Id cover them with tin foil.

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I roast directly on rack as well using the broiler, mostly poultry(thanksgiving turkey on the rack divine). I put the bird(breast side down) as close as possible to the upper heating element(my broiler is the top of the electric oven), and i set the temp to 320 or so, then set the drip pan on the bottom rack, as far down as it will go. I check back every 30 mins or so to make sure that that there arent any areas that are burning. I flip the bird right side up at about 1 hour just to brown the skin on the breast side a bit. Once the bird is done(at your own discretion), i let it rest for 20-30.

I dont like the idea of putting a pan directly underneath an extra rack, because in my mind, the pan limits the flow of heat to what you are baking, and still creates a humid environment directly blow that that limits the development of a crispy skin.

The cleaning aspect kinda sucks, but some oven cleaner a hot rack along with some patience is all your need Personally, i dont clean the rack every time i roast on it, unless i plan to use a pan, or have used a pan on the rack.

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I would simply purchase a wire rack for cooling cookies (not coated) and place it on top of a cookie sheet. Alternatively, place it across a glass Lasagna pan for more air flow underneath and better drip catching.

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