Convection For Fast Family Meal
Updated: Feb 11
Microwave ovens initially became popular because of their ability to cook foods in less time than traditional ovens; however, there are many benefits to cooking in a Convection oven that far outweigh microwave speed and deliver a delicious meal.
What are the Benefits of Cooking in Convection?
When you select a Convection mode heated air is circulated around the oven, cooking food from the edge to the center. Because the heat is evenly circulated around the oven multiple trays of food can be cooked at one time without having to change the position of the trays during the cooking.
Another benefit is that foods cooked in Convection have better moisture retention, so there is a noticeable difference in the flavor and texture from foods cooked in the more drying heat of the traditional Bake or Roast mode.
Another unexpected benefit is no transfer of flavor between the different foods being cooked, making it easy to cook multiple dishes at one time.
What is the Benefit of Cooking a Complete Meal in the Oven?
The answer is easy, one of the greatest benefits is time. When you place several dishes in the oven the food is being cooked in a contained environment so you can set the timer and safely leave the kitchen and enjoy 20 - 30 minutes of free time while the meal cooks.
Foods cooked on the cooktop require more careful attention and monitoring which may keep you tied to the kitchen. I think that is what makes cooking at the end of a busy day so stressful and, there are more saucepans to clean. If the oven gets dirty just close the door however, if the cooktop gets dirty, it can be a not-so-appealing eyesore.
How to Cook a Complete Meal in Convection
To cook a complete meal in Convection you just have to think through the cooking time for each dish. For example, this is the cooking plan for this meal of Mexican Meatloaf with Classic Red Rice and Baked Fish.
Meatloaf, 10 minutes to prep, 45 - 50 minutes to bake, and 10 minutes to rest before serving.
Rice, 10 minutes to prep and 25 minutes to bake in the oven.
Fish, 2 minutes to prep, 10 minutes to bake in the oven.
When cooking this meal you would begin by placing the meatloaf in the oven, then add the rice after 25 minutes, then add in the fish for the final 10 minutes.
Which Convection Mode Should I Choose?
Well, this is probably the biggest challenge you will face, because every oven is different but here are some guidelines.
If your oven has a Convection Mode then that would be a good choice for this particular meal. The heat would only be coming from the rear Convection element and circulating around the oven so each dish will cook evenly no matter where placed. I would still place the meatloaf and fish above the pan with the rice to avoid any condensation dripping onto those foods.
If your oven has a Convection Bake mode, that will also work but in that mode, the Top and Bottom heating elements will be cycling on and the Convection fan will be circulating the heat.
When cooking in this mode I would suggest placing the meatloaf in the upper part of the oven for some top browning and cooking the fish on the same rack. I would cook the rice in a covered pan on rack position 2, counting up from the bottom of the oven.
I hope you will learn to see your Convection oven in a new light and appreciate the tools it offers you to cook simple delicious meals more easily. For more inspiration on how to cook a complete meal, check out these recipes for Slow Roasted Tri Tip with Tomatillo Salsa and Roasted Potatoes with Peppers and Chipotle Braised Short Ribs with Stuffed Acorn Squash and Caramel Sauce Apple Bread Pudding.
Each of these meals includes recipes with a touch of spice, perfect to perk up our taste buds during these dreary winter months. Julia Child made Reine de Saba, a light chocolate almond cake famous and in my next post I will review baking this delicious treat in Convection.
Larissa, Your Convection Enthusiast