You’ve received a new oven for the upcoming holidays, or maybe you started living on your own? The cooker might be looking at you at the moment, ready to oblige, but what happens if you don’t know how to operate it? There’s nothing wrong with that – nobody was born perfect. Maybe sometimes you don’t put enough water with the potatoes and scraping them off the baking dish has become a tradition. Maybe you overfill it next time and you create a watery soupy mess. Yet, you can easily get all this under control.
You won’t impress anyone with takeout food. Nor with ready-made microwave designated meals. You’ve got the whole cooking palette in your hands if you use the cooker. Roast, bake, broil, braise. Make it juicy or crispier – it’s up to you. When you get familiarised with the special features of your oven, the rest is a piece of cake.
It’s that time of the year, when we prefer the home comfort instead of walking around the cold streets looking for a good place to have a meal. Just imagine the smell of freshly baked cookies in your grandma’s kitchen. What are the oven cooking basics which you need to master in order to take your oven relationship to the next level and reduce your time in the kitchen?
Give Your Food Some Space
You need to pay attention to this specific peculiarity. If you “overcrowd” the baking dish with vegetables and chicken drumsticks, there will not be enough air for the food to breathe. As a result, you will not get the desired crispiness on top. The whole meal will be unevenly cooked, leaving you with a part-crispy part-squishy and watery dish. In case you want to avoid it, make sure you leave some space between those cookies you bake or the chicken legs you roast.
Know Your Basic Heat Science
It’s a fact that hot air rises above whereas cool one goes down to heat next. Knowing the circle of heat will help you a great deal in your oven cooking endeavours. The different kinds of cooking will require a different approach to where the food should be situated. In case you want to give your meal a quick crisp, make sure the oven rack is near the top. A slowly-cooked dish calls for the bottom part of the oven – the temperature there is generally lower and will contribute to the special way of preparation. Overall, make sure you cook most of your meals on the central rack, since the heat is best distributed there.
Preheat When Specified
Don’t gamble with the temperature – every time you open the door, you lose heat. That’s why it’s recommended in most of the recipes to preheat the oven. This way you will lose temperature when you put in the dish, but it will restore quicker if the cooking chamber was preheated beforehand.
Keep It Neat
A cleaner oven will guarantee no taste disorders or loss of energy. All those accidental spillages turn into burnt-on deposits which will, with time, inevitably affect the end results of your meals. It won’t be the fact that you got worse at cooking – just the charred specks of food will interfere with the taste of your dish. Make sure you perform once or twice a year a good deep clean of your oven chamber, the racks and the doors, if possible to dismantle. Arm yourselves with some eco-friendly detergent (that’s popular at the moment and why not – they work great) and a lot of elbow grease.
Use the Racks Smart
In case you have a smaller oven, it may happen to have just one rack inside. It can move up and down easily, as I suggested above when finding the perfect spot for the meal to cook. Just make sure you do that before you actually turn the oven on. It won’t be really nice to burn yourself on the hot metal rack afterwards. Plus, don’t start the oven before you look what’s inside. People tend to leave the cooked meals inside to cool and forget them during the day.
Get The Best Tools
A simple oven mitt can do the difference. Most people will just use a towel, but it often turns into an universal item. That means they will use it for everything – from wiping their hands to cleaning spilled liquids. And that is not hygienic at all, is it? Place a baking sheet in the bottom of the dish will make the cleaning afterwards a whole lot easier. Generally, there are different kinds of utensils, made of different materials. All come with advantages and disadvantages and you will need to make a choice based on your monthly income, as well as the type of food you cook. I usually prefer cast iron utensils, since they are easy to work with most kind of meals, there are no unwanted chemical reactions with the food and the heat distributes evenly.
Sometimes all you need is the get-go and the self-confidence you pull this one out. Pretty soon you will be baking like a professional chef with just a little bit of practice.