Published: July 13, 2012
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Believe it or not, and I know I’m taking my life in my hands when I say this, but there are times when you might actually have to cook indoors. (This is me dodging old shoes, rotten tomatoes and rusty beer cans.)
There comes a time in every persons life when they’re going to have to cover the grill, park the pit and light up the indoor oven. It may come as a result of a great flood, a deadly hurricane, or because vandals raided your backyard setup. Whatever the case, you’ve go to stay up on what your oven’s doing if you’ve any hope of turning out a great meal.
First, it’s important to know what kind of oven you’re using. This will determine how well it’s going to keep heat and how often you’re going to have to keep an eye on what’s cooking. A summertime of neglect may mean you’ll have to give it a quick once over, and don’t light it up until you’re sure nothing’s in it. Many a Thermapen have succumbed to oven melt damage as a result of a careless owner.
Your standard conventional cooker uses heating elements to increase the interior temperature of the oven and a thermometer to regulate that temperature. These are the ones you have to watch out for. Setting it to 250°F will actually ramp up the temp to somewhere near 300°F before it cuts off and lets the temperature slowly settle on your desired temp (250°F). When the temperature dips below the target, the heating elements will ramp up again and take the temp back up to near 300°F and the pattern will continue.
The cadillac of indoor cookers is the convection oven. These babies will crank out serious heat and regulate the temperature a bit better than conventional ovens. That’s due (in large part) to a fan inside the oven that blows the hot air over and around whatever you’re cooking. Constant airflow means a faster and more even cook throughout.
Bear in mind that just like with any grill or pit, opening your oven to take a peek will let heat escape and will likely cause the oven to ramp up. Valuable cook time will be lost and dinner will have to wait that much longer. This is where it might help to bring some of your pit technology inside.
An oven thermometer is the perfect tool to help you monitor what’s happening inside your oven and your meat. Heavy duty models like the TW8060 (perfect for a pork shoulder or brisket) will transition to the cool temps of your kitchen without a hitch. There are several type K probes available to accommodate smaller cuts of meat and a dual channel that will come in handy if you want to monitor the internal temp of the oven to cross check against what you’re dial is telling you.
Of course whatever comes out of the oven will have to be spot checked with the Super-Fast Thermapen and allowed to rest – just like you would a “normal” cook outside.
The sign of a great chef or pitmaster is the ability to adapt. If you don’t want to be a one-trick pony change up the way you cook and expand your horizons. If you’re not ready to bring it inside just yet, then try throwing something new on the coals and go from there.
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