When convection ovens were first introduced to the home market, they were heralded as the ultimate time saver: "Perfect roast chicken in a third of the time!" But Evan Kleiman's guest Russ Parsons cautions us that convection ovens aren't always great for everything...
A convection oven comes equipped with a fan and exhaust system that actually pulls the hot oven air across the food and then vents it back out. Parsons explains that this creates a very dry atmosphere in comparison to a regular oven. In fact, because the air in a regular oven stays fairly stationary, the environment inside the oven actually becomes a bit humid as the food cooks, steaming it instead of roasting it.
Parson feels that this isn't always a bad thing, and that a convection oven is great for cooking some kinds of foods but not others. Most convection ovens for the home allow you to choose whether to cook something on the convection setting or a regular oven setting. When deciding which one to use, think about the dish you're cooking and remember that whatever you cook will be getting dried out.
Parsons says that convection ovens are fantastic for doing any kind of roasting. In fact, the dry heat of convection ovens is the best modern-day equivalent to traditional spit-roasting over open flames! In a convection oven, you'll get that crisp, crackling skin while the interior stays moist and tender.
Convection ovens are also good for cooking some kinds of pastries, particularly pies and cookies. Bread and cakes, on the other hand, do much better in the humid standing heat of a regular oven.
When translating a recipe for a regular oven to the convection oven, Parson advises lowering the recommended oven temperature by 25°. We also know from our own experience that the cooking time in a convection oven is about a third that of a normal oven. When cooking a new recipe, check it frequently and make any necessary adjustments to temperature and time!
• Hear Evan Kleiman's full interview with Russ Parsons and listen to the rest of this episode on the Good Food website.
What's your opinion on convection ovens? Are they worth the hype?
Related: Good Question: What's the Best Toaster Oven?
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