Friday, April 16, 2010

Halogen Cooking Tips

So you’ve eagerly purchased your new halogen oven and now you’re drying to try out a recipe or two. The first thing to keep in mind is to avoid the temptation of throwing everything into the oven at the same time. It may seem irresistible, it may even seem like a good idea, but cooking with a halogen oven will require planning just as if you were doing more conventional cooking. The convenience and ease of use comes with the cooking time, not being able to skimp on ingredients or preparation.

So the first thing you’ll want to do is plan a menu. This will depends on different features in varying brands of halogen cooker. There are probably a multitude of meats you want to try but start with something simple – it will be delicious either way. Also think about portion size as a halogen oven is best used when serving two to three people. Larger meals are certainly doable but you may need more than just your halogen oven when you want to incorporate a lot of dishes. So if you want to stick to pure halogen cooking then plan a menu with one main meat, source and then some accompanying vegetables or sides that can be made in the oven as well.
Using your new cooker can be a great way to usher in a whole new wave of healthy eating. Consider using fresh ingredients and avoid all the fats and oils you used with your old oven. It may be tempting to load up foods with delicious butter or fat but remember that halogen cooking does not require any non-stick cooking substances or lubricants since you will get moist and juicy products any way you go. So take this as a cue to use less fat, less oil, finer cuts of meat, less frying, less grease, and better quality ingredients overall. The halogen cooker has a way of concentrating ingredients so use the ones that provide the best flavour in addition to keeping you trim. This new way of cooking can revolutionize your health if you approach it properly.
A halogen oven will make things easier but it won’t eliminate work entirely. So you will still want to marinade and season appropriately. True, you can cook meat from a frosted state, but this should be avoided if you want full flavour. So take the time you will save during the cooking process and use it to handle your meat with care. Chicken, beef, and pork are all better when seasoned with the very basics of salt and pepper. Add to that varying spices and herbs and don’t be afraid to let meat sit in a marinade overnight. Combined with the circulating heat and concentrated temperatures, a well prepared piece of meat will have the best chance of cooking to perfection.

With experience you will be able to plan all types of meals in your halogen cooker. Take into account your halogen oven may have varying levels and racks that you can use to great effect. You might be able to time one main meat, keep it warm in your conventional oven, and prepare a second main dish accordingly. The options are only limited by your imagination, and seasoned chefs will soon be able to incorporate halogen cooking in all types of ways that enhance their menus.

Halogen Cooker Product reviews

A lot of halogen ovens started on the home shopping network but now you can get them in department stores as well as online. There are a number of Halogen ovens on the market, each with their own advantages and disadvantages. That is overall good news for the consumer as you have a variety of choice, and companies know they have to put out good products to attract customers. Here are some reviews for models available on the market so you can participate in halogen cooking. For the purposes of this article, some infrared ovens have been included as well but these are essentially the same as halogen ovens in their concept and operation.

Fagor 12 Quart Halogen Tabletop Oven

This is a simple model that would be good for beginners to halogen cooking. It is highly portable and a good choice for a student or someone who is renovating their kitchen. It takes the place of other major appliances so in this way it will save you space. Performance-wise it works just fine as long as you don’t pack too much into the oven at once. I tried cooking a full meal with vegetables and way too many potatoes and it was simply too much. Everything got cooked, and quite well I might add, but the flavours blended a bit. I would say this was a testament more to my cooking style than the performance of this machine itself. A great use for this little diddy is for cookies and cakes! I generally don’t bake in a regular oven because it is simply too unwieldy and big. But a halogen cooker seems to lend itself to preparing yummy treats in minimal time.

Morningware HO1200M-WOR Infrared Halogen Oven

This model uses a combination of the latest heating technology including convection, halogen, infrared, and conduction. It promises much faster cooking speeds and no defrosting necessary. In fact, the elimination of defrosting is a common feature among the halogen cooker. I liked this product for its large open design and its generally “clean” appearance that fits well in a white kitchen. The size of this product and varying uses means you will probably not use your regular oven as much –if at all after you buy this product. It truly is multipurpose and as a mid-level cost product it’s probably one of the best. There is a built in timer along with temperature control, so combining this with the fact that you can see your food, you will be able to make perfectly cooked meals no problem. The only downside to this product was that it wasn’t a breeze to clean. But I just think of it as needing a bit f extra care as a pay off for such good cooking performance.

Nuwave 20322 Pro Digital-Controlled Infrared Tabletop Oven

This is hands-down one of the best in the family of the halogen cooker, and it’s also one of the most popular. Of course everyone is afraid to get caught up in a fad or be    tempted into buying a kitchen toy that will soon be forgotten. But after using this product I can say for sure it has become a welcome addition to my cooking repertoire, and in fact it has made other appliances seem outdated and obsolete. Whatever your cooking desire, you can do it in this oven and it’s attractive design will insure you can put it anywhere and it will be sure to attract attention. You can invite sceptical house guests to look at the oven and show them exactly how quickly and effectively it can cook something while they watch. I’ve always had a hard time finding something that effectively re-heats pizza but this device does the trick, and does it really well. As for full meals, you can feel confident that whatever you put into this halogen cooker will come out fully-cooked, tasty, and juicy.

No matter which model you choose, and there are many not listed here, you can be assured that many will be able to accomodate your favorite reciped. Just keep in mind that there are unique elements to halogen cooking and your intial patience will be paid off with great food.

The Cons of the Halogen Ovens

Halogen ovens are the latest in cooking technology, but as with any new device you should take care not to jump in full forced without being informed. This is not to say halogen ovens are not worth the money or that they don’t actually work, but if you are more able to closely match your expectations with your purchase you will be a lot happier. The fact is, there are a variety of Halogen ovens on the market so do your research, take into account the pros of halogen ovens, and you should be able to decide if the purchase is worth it to you. We've already looked at some halogen oven benfits, now for some things to think about.

The interesting thing about the halogen oven is that for every “pro” listed there is a contrasting “con”:

Speed of cooking – is it better to be able to cook an entire chicken in less than half the time? Obviously there are advantages to that, but also consider that something is lost from the cooking experience when you can pile a bunch of ingredients into a machine, push a button, and half an hour later everything is cooked to perfection. It may be a bit too much like “the Jetsons” for a traditional cook. For people who love cooking, the process is about lovingly looking over your roast, basting it with care, and slow oven roasting it so that all the flavours melt through. Now if the end product tastes the same then would it make sense to just go with the speedier oven? That is entirely up to you; just remember that cooking is so easy with halogen ovens that the process is extremely simplified, which might not be as satisfying for some. However, if you aren’t a hardcore cooking enthusiast and you just want a fast meal that tastes great, then halogen cooking is the way to go.

Cost of a machine – The cost of a halogen ovens will be different for each person as there are varying models out there on the market that fit differing needs. There is also cost saving inherently built into the machine since it saves energy, uses less electricity, and forgoes the wasteful process of pre-heating an oven. There is also a wide range of machines that cover the gamut from cheap to quite costly. And basically you will get what you pay for. So if your budget is limited, you can participate in halogen cooking of course, but the product you get at a cheaper price simply won’t be as good as an expensive one. Make sure to look at prices and compare products and features to see that while halogen ovens aren’t priced out of range, be prepared to spend a little more to get a good quality product.

When looking at different types of halogen ovens take into account:

construction material, appearance

power usage and output, heat range

design and size, portability, length of cord

extra space or levels, racks and compartments

varying function such as roasting, rotisserie, steamer, broiler

Do your research because there are some definite clunkers out there. Check back to this site for product reviews and halogen cooking recipes.

Pros of a Halogen Oven

Should you invest in a halogen oven? The answer will depend on a variety of factors including how often you cook, what your budget is, and what types of food you usually eat. As for the machine itself, a halogen cooker has its own benefits and disadvantages and these should be considered before you invest in one of these high powered cooking devices.

Halogen Oven Pros

Until they invent the next level of cooking technology that zaps meat with energy harnessed from an alien moon, halogen cooking is the fastest way to cook right now. With this device you can cook something like an entire chicken in a relatively short time so you can enjoy meals that you might not otherwise prepare. In a bustling world that values free time and convenience, you could save a lot of time with a halogen oven.

Ok, so speed is one thing, but a microwave oven can cook pretty fast too so how does the food taste? Unlike a microwave oven where you would never want to cook a whole chicken or roast beef, a halogen oven produces food that tastes great. It can simulate a grill, broil, fry, or a full oven. So it takes the speed of a microwave and the taste of a conventional oven.

Imagine carrying around the oven you have in your kitchen now. It would be pretty impossible. But with a halogen oven, you could carry it to any location in your kitchen. You can even take it over to a friend’s house if you wanted. So while it’s not something like a laptop that you could take anywhere, it is much more portable than a regular oven and even a microwave.

Halogen ovens save energy in terms of electrical use and overall efficiency. So if the environment and conserving energy are concerns to you then this cost-saving device is a way to go. The smaller size and quicker heat-up also eliminates the extremely wasteful practice of preheating an entire oven. You also won’t have to open the halogen oven as much since you won’t need to reposition your food in most cases.

Sometimes using a conventional oven involves a bit of guess work. You have to hope that the oven is actually at the temperature you want, and we all know what it is like to work with an oven with a cloudy window that we can’t see thru. Sometimes our meat just sits inside while we hope for the best. With a microwave who knows how long to re-heat a piece of meat before it bursts open. A Halogen oven is comprised mostly of a see-through material that will allow you to see your food at all times. So that means you can watch it cook, which is fun in itself, but also make sure everything looks right to avoid over or under-cooking. There really is no other cooking device that allows you to see what you’re cooking so clearly.
Overall, halogen cooking is healthier since you won’t need to use as much oil or grease for cooking. In fact, any fatty substances you will use would be for taste purposes only so you can make it as fat or as healthy as you like. Another advantage is that your food will retain its natural juices and moisture, with a lower chance of getting overcooked or dry.

So as you can see, halogen ovens can be great, but don't just walk in blindy. Take a look at some of the halogen oven cons to make sure it is right for you.

What is a Halogen oven?

From the invention of fire and the beginning of time people have been looking for ways to cook their food in new and interesting ways. There’s something intimate about the method of cooking we choose to employ, whether it be a slow roast, patient simmer, or an all-out flame filled BBQ.

One new technology available on the market puts the caveman’s campfire to shame and it is called the Halogen oven.

How does a Halogen oven work?

A Halogen oven uses halogen heating elements (obviously) as a technology that quickly converts electrical energy into heat that allows the oven to be a multipurpose cooking machine. The heat is circulated within the oven, similar to a convection oven, so that the heat quickly and evenly cooks whatever is inside. All of the heating comes from the lid portion of the oven and great care shouldbe taken not to damage or fiddle around with this portion.

Unlike a standard oven, the kind we all grew up with and our mom’s used to make roast beef, halogen ovens are much smaller. They are also portable as you can carry one to any location in your kitchen, you will basically only be limited by where you have an electrical outlet. While a standard oven is a huge block of equipment that provides a foggy window through which to see your food, halogen ovens are see-through from all perspectives and there is something fun about watching your entire meal cook. This will cut down on the possibility of overcooking since you can clearly see your meat from the outside.

Although the halogen oven is comparably smaller than a standard oven, you will be happy to know that you will usually be able to fit a lot of food inside. If you think about it, you rarely use all the space in a standard oven anyways as there is a lot of empty space around whatever you’re cooking. So think of a halogen cooking as a compact, more intense and focussed from of heating that doesn’t waste any energy or space. Some halogen ovens have different levels that allow you to cook several things at one time. The great advantage is that flavours will not mix, unless you want them too, and the circulated heating means you don’t have to worry about tossing, flipping, or switching the position of your meat.

Many Halogen ovens are promoted as being self cleaning but with all such devices, you will need to do some wiping and scrubbing on your own. One problem that happens with many of these new-age ovens, grills, or cooking tools, is that people get excited at first and then loose that initial thrill when cleaning and maintenance come into play. So when it comes to cleaning, it will be entirely up to you. If you let it sit and don’t take care of a halogen oven then yes, it will become harder and harder to clean. But if you clean it as you would a pot or pan after each use then you won’t have any problems. Remember, convenience does not mean an absolute freedom from any kind of effort. There are certainly halogen oven advantages in addition to things to think about, so do your research!