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Gary Barlettano

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Advice On Putting More Than One Thing In The Oven At A Time

by Gary Barlettano » Thu Dec 14, 2006 9:10 pm

There's a rule for everything, so maybe there's a rule for this.

Usually, I try to bake only one thing at a time in my crumby, Frigidaire, electric oven since I assume that more than one thing sucks up more heat and hence throws off any attempt at regulating time and temperature. I may be wrong; hence, these questions.

In any event, in order to do what I want to do on Xmas Eve, I will have to stick a turkey breast, a bone-in ham (shank), yams, and extra-vehicular stuffing all in the oven at the same time.

Any words of wisdom besides, "Don't do it!!" Is there some kind of rule of thumb for upping the temp? Maybe it doesn't make a difference?
And now what?
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Re: Advice On Putting More Than One Thing In The Oven At A Time

by Larry Greenly » Thu Dec 14, 2006 9:20 pm

You're right. All those items act as a heat sink and it takes time for the oven to recover. What you can do to counteract that is to heat the oven above the required temperature (say 50 degrees or so). When you open the oven door, the temperature will drop. And when you insert all the foods, the temperature will drop. But by having the temperature higher at first will allow the oven to catch up and then you can turn the heat down to the proper temperature.
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Re: Advice On Putting More Than One Thing In The Oven At A Time

by Gary Barlettano » Thu Dec 14, 2006 9:28 pm

Larry Greenly wrote:You're right. All those items act as a heat sink and it takes time for the oven to recover. What you can do to counteract that is to heat the oven above the required temperature (say 50 degrees or so). When you open the oven door, the temperature will drop. And when you insert all the foods, the temperature will drop. But by having the temperature higher at first will allow the oven to catch up and then you can turn the heat down to the proper temperature.


My general modus operandi even for one item is to preheat the oven to about 50º F above what is needed and to continue to let it preheat for about 10 minutes after the preheat signal has gone off so that the metal in the oven walls and not just the air in the oven have reached the desired temperature. I'm so darn slow inserting the dish that I know I lose a lot of heat in the process. I'm just wondering if heat absorption in some way increases with multiple items and hence something that I would bake at 325º F might have to be jacked up to, say, 375° F to achieve what I would have achieved at the lower temperature.
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Re: Advice On Putting More Than One Thing In The Oven At A Time

by Larry Greenly » Fri Dec 15, 2006 12:41 am

Gary Barlettano wrote:My general modus operandi even for one item is to preheat the oven to about 50º F above what is needed and to continue to let it preheat for about 10 minutes after the preheat signal has gone off so that the metal in the oven walls and not just the air in the oven have reached the desired temperature. I'm so darn slow inserting the dish that I know I lose a lot of heat in the process. I'm just wondering if heat absorption in some way increases with multiple items and hence something that I would bake at 325º F might have to be jacked up to, say, 375° F to achieve what I would have achieved at the lower temperature.


No, as long as the air is 325F, it doesn't matter if you have one or a dozen items. Picture a 325F oven of infinite size with an infinite number of hams. As long as the oven can maintain the 325F temperature, no ham will "know" if there are any other hams and each ham will cook in the normal time (the air will be 325F around each ham).

The problem lies in the initial sudden drop of temperature with your multiple items and it may take longer to recover to your desired cooking temperature (if you threw in a bucket of ice, the oven's temperature would drop even more). That's why if you thoroughly heat your oven to a higher temperature at first and allow all the parts to come to that temperature, it will recover more quickly.

You might want to consider placing a thick oven stone in your oven to act as a heat sink to store heat and allow your oven to recover quicker.

Finally, if your items are to be cooked at 325F and the air around them remains at 375F, they will overcook.
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Re: Advice On Putting More Than One Thing In The Oven At A Time

by ChefCarey » Fri Dec 15, 2006 1:00 pm

Gary Barlettano wrote:
Larry Greenly wrote:You're right. All those items act as a heat sink and it takes time for the oven to recover. What you can do to counteract that is to heat the oven above the required temperature (say 50 degrees or so). When you open the oven door, the temperature will drop. And when you insert all the foods, the temperature will drop. But by having the temperature higher at first will allow the oven to catch up and then you can turn the heat down to the proper temperature.


My general modus operandi even for one item is to preheat the oven to about 50º F above what is needed and to continue to let it preheat for about 10 minutes after the preheat signal has gone off so that the metal in the oven walls and not just the air in the oven have reached the desired temperature. I'm so darn slow inserting the dish that I know I lose a lot of heat in the process. I'm just wondering if heat absorption in some way increases with multiple items and hence something that I would bake at 325º F might have to be jacked up to, say, 375° F to achieve what I would have achieved at the lower temperature.


Okay, just one tidbit here. I have *never* understood these recipes that say "Preheat oven to blah degrees." Why? When you open the oven door you are going to lose *at least* 25% of the heat you've built up in there. When people ask me to what temperature they should heat their oven for a given dish, I ask them "How high does it go?" Crank it up. Open the door for only the briefest amount of time and as infrequently as possible. You can *always* reduce the heat!
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Re: Advice On Putting More Than One Thing In The Oven At A Time

by Gary Barlettano » Fri Dec 15, 2006 1:32 pm

ChefCarey wrote:Okay, just one tidbit here. I have *never* understood these recipes that say "Preheat oven to blah degrees." Why? When you open the oven door you are going to lose *at least* 25% of the heat you've built up in there. When people ask me to what temperature they should heat their oven for a given dish, I ask them "How high does it go?" Crank it up. Open the door for only the briefest amount of time and as infrequently as possible. You can *always* reduce the heat!


Sage advice and I'm sure there's some parsley, rosemary and thyme in there, too. I've never cranked it up, but that's essentially why I preheat my oven beyond "target" and then let the walls heat up for a while, too. My understanding from chefs with whom I've hobnobbed is that they try to cook at the highest possible heat which I suppose you can do when you have a good grasp of when something is done and when something is going wrong ... which I don't. It takes practice (or maybe a seminar at the MCA ... do they give WLDG discounts?).

I'm still waiting for my $2.71 copy of "Chef on Fire." The shipping and handling totals $1.25 more than the price of the book itself and I bet they are making more money on marking up the envelope they are sending it in than on the book itself. To top things off, at USPS Media Rate it might take as much as a month to get here. I am very anxious to give you a place of honor between my collection of Alton Brown and my heirloom Italian Cooking published by Shop-Rite some 50 years ago. The latter only cost 39¢!!
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Re: Advice On Putting More Than One Thing In The Oven At A Time

by ChefCarey » Fri Dec 15, 2006 1:57 pm

Gary Barlettano wrote:
ChefCarey wrote:Okay, just one tidbit here. I have *never* understood these recipes that say "Preheat oven to blah degrees." Why? When you open the oven door you are going to lose *at least* 25% of the heat you've built up in there. When people ask me to what temperature they should heat their oven for a given dish, I ask them "How high does it go?" Crank it up. Open the door for only the briefest amount of time and as infrequently as possible. You can *always* reduce the heat!


Sage advice and I'm sure there's some parsley, rosemary and thyme in there, too. I've never cranked it up, but that's essentially why I preheat my oven beyond "target" and then let the walls heat up for a while, too. My understanding from chefs with whom I've hobnobbed is that they try to cook at the highest possible heat which I suppose you can do when you have a good grasp of when something is done and when something is going wrong ... which I don't. It takes practice (or maybe a seminar at the MCA ... do they give WLDG discounts?).

I'm still waiting for my $2.71 copy of "Chef on Fire." The shipping and handling totals $1.25 more than the price of the book itself and I bet they are making more money on marking up the envelope they are sending it in than on the book itself. To top things off, at USPS Media Rate it might take as much as a month to get here. I am very anxious to give you a place of honor between my collection of Alton Brown and my heirloom Italian Cooking published by Shop-Rite some 50 years ago. The latter only cost 39¢!!


I sent queries to a couple of the vendors on Amazon - asking how they could sell my book cheaper than I can buy it from my publisher. Been a week - no responses.
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Re: Advice On Putting More Than One Thing In The Oven At A Time

by Bob Henrick » Fri Dec 15, 2006 8:10 pm

Larry Greenly wrote:No, as long as the air is 325F, it doesn't matter if you have one or a dozen items. Picture a 325F oven of infinite size with an infinite number of hams. As long as the oven can maintain the 325F temperature, no ham will "know" if there are any other hams and each ham will cook in the normal time (the air will be 325F around each ham).

The problem lies in the initial sudden drop of temperature with your multiple items and it may take longer to recover to your desired cooking temperature (if you threw in a bucket of ice, the oven's temperature would drop even more). That's why if you thoroughly heat your oven to a higher temperature at first and allow all the parts to come to that temperature, it will recover more quickly.

You might want to consider placing a thick oven stone in your oven to act as a heat sink to store heat and allow your oven to recover quicker.

Finally, if your items are to be cooked at 325F and the air around them remains at 375F, they will overcook.


Larry, you have correctly stated the way a ceramic cooker such as my charcoal grill works. Ceramic is without doubt the best medium possible for an oven. In the case of my grill, if I heat the cooking chamber until it reaches the temperature I want to cook with, then even if I open the top to stir the pot or whatever reason, the chamber comes back to the desired temperature really quickly once the top is closed. (this recovery time is one of the things that makes ceramic so much better than metal. One thing to follow in cooking multiple items all at once is that the items should not be allowed to touch. The air should be allowed to freely circulate around each item.
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