Convection ovens cook differently than conventional ovens, so some adjustment to your recipes is necessary. Convection ovens use a fan to circulate hot air around the food so the food heats more evenly and cooks faster than a conventional oven, but slower than a microwave. Foods cooked in a convection oven retain more moisture and nutrients and can often be cooked with less fat. This may mean more healthy eating for your family, but take care not to overcook the meat by using conventional oven cooking times.
Heat the Oven
For best results, heat your convection oven before adding food. Otherwise, you will blow some cold air on your food and dry it out unnecessarily. Heat the oven until it is at temperature before placing the food inside for cooking.
Allow Unrestricted Air Flow
Because convection ovens rely on hot air to help cook the food, your cooking vessel should allow easy air flow for best results. Choose a shallow roasting pan for meats rather than a deep pan with high sides that block air circulation. Likewise, covered dishes are not suitable for efficient convection cooking. The food will still cook, but you will not get the additional benefit of the forced air flow. Do not cover the racks with foil or place pans below the food, because this will also block air flow in the oven.
Place meats on a rack in a shallow roasting pan to lift them into the airflow and encourage even browning. The convection oven will quickly sear the meat, allowing you to eliminate that step from recipes that call for it. For small pieces of meat, roast as normal, reducing the cooking time by approximately 1/3 to 1/4 of the cooking time in a conventional oven. For large roasts and turkeys, reduce the roasting temperature by 25 degrees and begin checking the meat for doneness as it gets close to the recommended cooking time. They may cook a little faster, but may take even longer to cook at the lower temperature.
For baked goods, a little experimentation may be required to get your favorite recipes to come out perfectly in a convection oven. You will need to either reduce the cooking time or the temperature, or do a little of both. When using glass pans, reduce the heat as indicated in the recipe, but no more than 25 degrees. Forced air heats the dough faster and more evenly, helping baked goods rise better and reducing the need to rotate the pans during the cooking.
Keep the Filter Clean
The airflow filter in the back of the oven needs to be cleaned regularly. The filter collects grease particles and will eventually obstruct the airflow if not kept clean. Follow your manufacturer's instructions to clean the filter.
Diane Watkins has been writing since 1984, with experience in newspaper, newsletter and Web content. She writes two electronic newsletters and has a Bachelor of Science degree in chemistry from Clemson University. She has taken graduate courses in biochemistry and education.
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