Sunday, November 27, 2011

Oven Basics

The oven we have on our 1982 Tartan 42 is a  Hillerange 3 burner propane stove with a broiler in the oven.  It has a metal tray on the bottom of the oven above the broiler with slots along the sides for the air to move upwards into the oven.  The first problem I had with trying to bake anything in the Hillerange was that the heat was horribly uneven.  Things would burn on the bottom and not be done on top.  The first step to working around this was a trip to our local flooring store where I purchased some unglazed terra cotta tile (lead-free of course) which I placed directly on the metal tray above the burner where they absorb the heat and help to distribute it more evenly.  They also make a terrific place to cook pizza and some breads that require direct heat. For things like cookies, I put a double layer of aluminum foil, shiny side down, on a cookie sheet and then a piece of parchment paper to put the cookies on. I put the cookie sheet directly on the stones for the first 8 minutes and then move them to the top rack for the last 2-4 minutes.  This seems to work well in lieu of an airbake pan, which I can't find in a small enough size to fit.  It also makes it easy to slide the whole sheet of parchment onto the cooling rack and the new sheet onto the cookie sheet.

 (And yes, the oven is dirty.  It was well-used this season)

When I bake pies, I fold a long piece of aluminum foil in half lengthwise twice, then run that strip around the circumference of the pie and fold the ends together.  The strip should be a little taller than the pie which allows you to fold the top edge inward a little to almost completely cover the crimped edge of the pie.  I put the pie on a rack pretty close to the ceiling of the oven, and then I cover the top loosely with a flat piece of foil. 

Broiling is still a bit of a challenge for me yet.  The broiler isn't very hot, so it's difficult to get foods broiled, juicy on the inside and crispy on the outside.  They sometimes tend to get a baked consistency instead because it takes so long.  I'm thinking about maybe trying to sear the meat in a skillet first an then broiling it.

We don't have a stern rail barbeque on Kintala.  We gave ours up when we still owned Nomad because there just wasn't any room on the stern rail, and Kintala is probably even more space-challenged on the stern rail than Nomad was.  What we did instead was to purchase a cast iron grilling skillet like this one:


It's a 10-1/2 " very heavy pan that you preheat on high with the lid on it (the lid also has the ridges) and then spray the pan with spray non-stick coating and put your meat on and put the lid on top.  The meat cooks quickly because of the preheated lid.  You still turn it half way through but it requires less time and it turns out just as well as the grill and a whole lot easier.  It also makes delicious bacon with the lid as a press, and wonderful paninis and french toast.  It is an extremely heavy pan but it still weighs in less than a conventional gas stern rail grill and doesn't require any extra propane tanks or the worry of storing them.  As a side note on propane, I cook on the boat at least 2 meals a day every Friday, Saturday, and Sunday and sometimes Thursday or Monday if it's a long weekend for us, and we used only one 10# propane tank from the middle of June to the middle of November.  This included many long bakes of pies and bread and cookies.  I try always to maximize the propane usage by only boiling the exact amount of water needed to make coffee or tea, and to keep bacon warm by putting it on top of a rack on top of the eggs while they cook etc.

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