LEARNING TO LOVE CONVECTION
You have seen the word a thousand times. You have heard people talking about it on television – even your friends have tried it. But there is just something about it that still leaves you feeling uneasy.
It’s called convection cooking.
Convection technology has been around for decades, yet home chefs are still reluctant to embrace it because they fear they will have to make major changes to recipes or the technology is only used for elaborate meals.
The truth is, cooking with convection is simple. It saves time and energy, since recipes take approximately 25% less time than with conventional cooking and less time cooking means less energy needed.
Chef Massimo Gaffo of Flik Catering in Chicago was also skeptical of convection cooking, but immediately embraced the technology the moment he roasted his first turkey using convection.
“It used to take me five or six hours to cook a 20-pound turkey, with basting every 15 to 20 minutes,” said Gaffo. “But, when I roasted a turkey using Pure Convection™, I was amazed at how quickly the turkey cooked and how moist the turkey tasted. It came out a beautiful golden brown, with no basting.”
Now, Gaffo spends his time trying to make home chefs comfortable with convection cooking. During his culinary classes at the Dacor Design & Culinary Studio in Chicago, he demonstrates how the technology reduces cooking times, provides more even heating and prevents flavor transfer.
“I begin each class by putting a glass of water into the oven before we start cooking. We do everything from rib eye to pizza to cakes, always followed by cookies and shrimp cooked at the same time. At the end of the demonstration, I dump the water to show that there is no grease or residue in the glass.”
Gaffo’s students leave feeling more confident about exploring convection cooking and are excited to test-drive a few of their own recipes at home, although the Chef recommends testing with a pack of frozen cookies instead of a prime cut roast.
HOW DOES CONVECTION WORK?
If you are baking cookies in a conventional oven with a heating element that sits at the bottom of the oven cell, the cookies closest to the element will cook first and the cookies furthest from the element will heat last. As the heat continues to move throughout the oven, it is likely that the cookies at the bottom will burn before the cookies at the top are ready to serve.
Convection ovens include a fan at the rear of the oven, which circulates the heated air throughout the cell for even cooking, so the cookies on each level heat at the same time.
Today, almost every luxury oven features convection cooking technology, whether it’s Convection Bake, which uses the element in the bottom of the oven cell with the fan, or Pure Convection, which uses an additional element in the rear of the oven. Both technologies are available in Dacor Epicure Ranges and Renaissance and Discovery Wall Ovens.
Advanced models like the Discovery Wall Ovens go one step further to take the guesswork out of convection cooking, with a smart controller that modifies conventional cooking modes to convection. You only need to know what you’re cooking and the food-driven menu does the rest. The ovens are preset with 99 of the most popular cooking modes, with room to store up to 100 more of the family’s favorites.
“Even that special recipe you always need to look up because you only cook it once a year can be added to the menu for easy access in the future,” said Gaffo, whose favorite soufflés and cream puffs are always just a few clicks away.
If you want to learn more about convection, pick up a copy of The Simple Art of Convection Cooking Cookbook, which features dozens of easy-to-follow recipes for the entire family.
Chef Massimo Gaffo photo courtesy of Fox Photography.
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