Sunday, December 05, 2010

Oven settings

My oven thermostat is on the blink. When I set the dial to gas mark 6 (200C), a thermometer told me that the temperature was in fact 150C. So I cooked this chicken (a 2kg, free range one from Sutton Hoo) at full blast, for 30 minutes, before turning down the dial to 6, and cooking for a further 90 minutes.

It made me think that I usually set the dial according to received advice rather than to how the cooking process is developing. Better to cook the chicken this way, by monitoring its progress and adjusting the dial accordingly. Still, I'd prefer to have a properly working oven.

The wing tips are missing because I cut them off to use, with the neck, in a stock for gravy.


Richard Ehrlich said...

Nick, you wrote:

Still, I'd prefer to have a properly working oven.

I feel your pain, but I've long known that a 'working' oven isn't necessary as long as you have a separate thermometer hanging from the oven rack. The separate thermometer tells you the difference between the real temperature and the thermostat temperature. If the difference is 50 degrees [as it is on my oven], in future you set the oven temperature to 150 when your recipe calls for 200. Easy!

FYI: an oven technician from one of the big companies told me years ago that they regard +- 20 degrees as 'accurate' for oven thermostats.

Nicholas Clee said...

My oven used to be hot by about +20. That was fine by me, although it did mean when slow-cooking I got better results through braising than roasting. But now it is too cool. Yesterday I put in some creamed spinach at gas mark 5, and found that after 15 minutes it was barely warm. And my roast potatoes are not as crunchy as they used to be.

The good thing is that the problem has reintroduced me to pot-roasting. The other day, I put a chicken (smeared with just a little oil) into my casserole, with its neck, two heads of garlic, a cut-up lemon, some bay and rosemary, salt, and about 50ml of water. All I had to do was let it simmer (covered). I cut it up in the pot, and served it with its juices. Lovely.