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5 mistakes we often make when cooking in the oven
5 mistakes we often make when cooking in the oven

There are those who have taken it for a cabinet, where to stack trays that they never use, and those who, on the contrary, use it daily or almost every day, churning out more of everything.

Then there are the average users, those who roast potatoes on Sundays, pizza or biscuits every now and then. And that not infrequently, approaching the oven, they ask themselves questions: Should I turn it on first? better static or ventilated? and then, how do I clean it?

Any doubt, a chance to make a mistake. To avoid mess, here is the new episode of the series "5 Errors", a small reasoned guide to the mistakes to avoid.

1. Always use it cold (or always hot)


The dilemma is: should it be turned on in advance and brought to temperature or can you save time by putting the preparations in the oven that has just been turned on?

The first option, which I generally prefer, causes the food to receive a necessary "hit of heat", for example, for leavened products (cakes, bread, pizza) whose leavening - pardon the tautology - receives the final push, allowing the dough to swell to the maximum: the subsequent and rapid formation of the external crust will then retain the steam inside, allowing a good alveulation.

Same goes for the cream puffs, which otherwise do not "empty" internally, the soufflé, the sheets.

Shortcrust pastry and shortcrust pastry, rich in butter, also need a hot oven.

Or at least, so I've always thought. But since you can find everything and the opposite of everything online, tell me: does someone bake sweets and cold doughs? With what results?

Although I am a fan of preheating, I admit that in some cases it is completely unnecessary. For example, when cooking casseroles, stews, dead roasts that take a long time. But also classic roasts which have been browned on the stove for the first time.

It does not seem necessary to me in the case of lasagna and similar, nor when cooking potatoes or vegetables in the oven, even stuffed.

But I'm curious about your experience in this regard.

2. Not taking advantage of all features


Static, ventilated, grill: these are the three main functions that an oven, even a basic one, should have. Combining them, switching from one program to another according to the cooking stage, allows for the best results.

Of course, it takes a little practice and study of your oven to understand how it behaves in different situations.

Briefly, we can say that static cooking takes place by radiating heat from below, from above or at the same time above and below.

The ventilated one, on the other hand, circulates the heat and therefore occurs by convection.

Always briefly, the static cooking is suitable for leavened products and in general for foods that need to cook for a long time, the ventilated is perfect for browning and browning but has the defect of drying the surface a little and, if not adjusted well, you risk burning the food outside while it is still raw inside.

I have learned to start static and finish breezy. With the foresight, in the second phase, to lower the temperature by 10-20 °, because cooking with the fan is more "violent".

Finally, there is the grill, the incandescent resistance that has made victims so many knuckles and backs of hands and that is used for gratinating, only for a few minutes and only constantly keeping an eye on what is happening: the difference between a golden scallop au gratin and a burnt black scallop can be a matter of seconds.

These three basic functions in the slightly more advanced models combine with each other and therefore on the knob you can choose, for example, the grill with fan (I use it when I cook pork ribs), or the ventilated heat from below that dries the bottom. (pies, pizza) and gilds the surface, and so on.

An advice? Keep and consult the manual of your oven: understanding what the symbols mean is not always immediate and a review of the instructions can help. But, above all. experience.

3. Forget about the food inside

Seared turkey
Seared turkey

The temptation is strong: once the pan, the pyrex dish, the plate has been put into the oven, the timer set, off on the sofa, to read the last chapter of that novel that you are so passionate about while the food cooks by itself.

But, unless you are making a tried and tested recipe, you should take a look from time to time. Because maybe the bottom of the roast requires the addition of a drizzle of broth, or the surface of the cake is darkening too much and it would be better to cover it with aluminum.

Then there is the question of uniformity: there are ovens that heat more in front or behind, on the right or left: stirring the potatoes or turning the containers allows to obtain homogeneous cooking and avoid, for example, to bring a chicken to the table. with one thigh with a crunchy and golden skin and the other sadly whitish with a boiled effect

So, watch out huh!

4. Not cleaning it often enough

Clean the oven
Clean the oven

Cleaning is boring. It is often frustrating because, if you do not do it regularly, the grease and sugary residues, cooked and annealed, form black and sticky crusts that are almost impossible to remove.

Now, I'm not telling you to clean it after each use. But once a month would be good practice.

After putting grills and dripping pans in the dishwasher, my mother taught me to turn on the oven with a basin of water inside which, when heated, forms steam that softens the encrustations, to be eliminated with elbow grease and spray degreaser or, more simply, hot vinegar.

Foams and specific detergents only in the most stubborn cases.

The rinsing is important because residues of foams and company would develop an unpleasant chemical odor at the next cooking.

Of course, there are so-called self-cleaning.

The catalytic agents have walls coated with a material that burns the residues during cooking (but the panels must be changed periodically).

Pyrolytics have a cleaning cycle at infernal temperatures (up to 400 °) which carbonise every smallest residue of food (but at this stage they consume a lot).

5. Not knowing the news of the sector


If the last object of desire is the steam oven, with the possibility of delicate sous vide preparations, or the one with a thermo probe for perfect cooking at the heart of roast beef and the like, buying a new model can send you into crisis.

The latest generation ovens, often combined with microwaves, are increasingly performing and have a number of functions to make your head spin. There are some that offer up to 70 automatic programs: 70!

Spoiled for choice is not always a good thing. Just as the attitude that many offer to choose for us can be perplexing: it is enough to provide a few data (even only the type of ingredient and weight) for the oven to decide how and for how much to cook independently.

The new frontier is just around the corner: "smart" ovens for lazy cooks.

The newly formed partnership between Whirlpool and Barilla has produced (it should be said) the Barilla kitchen, a model that combines traditional and microwave cooking with special accessories and, above all, with ready-to-cook dishes. Through a sensor, the chosen recipe is communicated to the oven, from Milanese risotto to margherita cake, passing through pasta, bread, pizza and focaccia. He takes care of the rest.

What then we cooks really want it to be a device with a display that puts our food on the table … well, that's a whole other story.

Probably, mistakes or no mistakes, we still like to open the door and insert oven dishes and pans, and then peer through the glass at the exact moment when the soufflé rises. Doesn't it happen? Patience, it will be for next time: mistakes help to grow, right?

So, tell me, what are your mistakes, which ones have I forgotten to mention, which have I not reported correctly and, above all, how do you best use your oven?

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