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Using All Your Roaster Oven's Parts

 I just read your answer about cooking a turkey in a roaster oven. The problem we have is that we first tried to cook it in a paper bag like in a regular oven. Yes, we started a fire. So now I am wondering if it is safe to cook my turkey by just setting it in the oven without the paper bag? Will the heating element on the bottom be too hot to set the turkey on directly? The oven came with a rack, but basically the rack just sits on the bottom as well.

 We are delighted when our readers share their stories with us! We're always so happy to hear about their cooking triumphs. If there's a little misstep along the way, well, who hasn't caught their roaster oven on fire? Actually, yours might be our first flaming roaster-oven story!

Now, getting to your other comments, we don't think so! Your roaster oven should have come with an insert pan or a "cookwell," or some other pan with a catchy name that sits between the heating element and the food you want to cook. Its sides should come all the way up the well of the roaster to the lid. They all come with racks, which you can set in the insert pan, to keep air circulating around your food or to keep it out of a liquid, but they all also come with some kind of insert. If yours did not, you need to be on the phone with the manufacturer right now complaining that it was not included (if the roaster oven is new), or ordering a new insert (if it is not).

You cannot put food directly on the heating element. You cannot place one of your own pans as a substitute right on the heating element. You need to have the pan made for your roaster suspended above the heating element. If your roaster oven is so old that it has no identifying information or that you can't track down the manufacturer, it is time for a new one.

No wonder your oven caught on fire. Placing a bag, placing a moist turkey – placing anything – directly on any heating element is a recipe for disaster. Promise us you will get the correct insert for your roaster oven before you try to use it again. We want to hear from you – not read about you in the newspaper.

Yes, and while you're listening to the manufacturer's hold music, do take the time to read our thoughts on cooking in a paper bag, will you?

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