Updated: Jan 6
When I began cooking with the Steam oven 22 years ago, I was intrigued by the mode for Low-Temperature Cooking that was a feature in the Gaggenau steam oven. I was unfamiliar with the term and the method of cooking which apparently was widely used in fine dining restaurants.
The lack of in-depth information in the User Guide led me to a few mishaps, but every time I made a mistake it sent me on the search for answers to understand what had happened. And that’s how I began to learn all about Low-Temperature cooking.
How is Low-Temperature Cooking Different from Braising?
Well, this was my first mistake, this mode is not designed for braising. Braising is a method of slowly cooking tougher cuts of meat in liquid with aromatics in a covered casserole. A tightly fitting lid on the pan creates steam in the pan that helps tenderize the meat during the long slow cooking process. The major difference is the cooking temperature, the temperature for braising is 300 - 325 degrees.
Low-temperature cooking on the other hand is for lean tender cuts of meat, poultry, and fish and the temperature range for cooking is 140 - 200 degrees. As with sous vide cooking, the process involves very low temperatures and longer periods of time, however, no bag is needed with this method. The searing can be done at the end of the cooking or before.
How to Determine the Timing for Low-Temperature Cooking
My first success cooking with this method was with a 15lb boneless standing rib roast. It took 5 hours to come to an internal temperature of 125 degrees. At that point, I took it out of the Steam oven and let it rest for about 20 minutes. It looked awful, just a big grey blob and I was definitely concerned.
However, I heated up the Convection oven in the Convection Roast mode at 425 degrees and finished the cooking there for approximately 15 minutes. In that time the fat rendered and the outside browned up beautifully. When I sliced the roast, it was perfectly pink all the way through and was amazingly tender. I now understood the benefits of low-temperature cooking.
At least now I had a time frame to work with, but I also had ovens with accurate meat probes which proved to be the best method for determining the timing. We soon learned that it was best to cook the meat to a temperature below the target serving temperature because it would continue cooking during the high heat searing phase.
Which is the Best Oven for Low-Temperature Cooking?
I first learned about this method of cooking while learning to use the Convection Steam oven, but when I found myself in situations where there was no Steam oven I used the same method in Convection with very good results.
For best results use the Convection or the Convection Bake mode, in these modes the low temperatures are circulated around the oven by the fan evenly cooking the meat. The powerful heat in the Convection Roast mode is ideal for the high heat finish.
My favorite method of finishing the cooking is actually on the outdoor grill, I like that the meat is pretty much cooked and only needs a quick sear for a flavorful finish.
What are the Best Foods to Cook in this Method?
I have successfully cooked, beef tenderloin, beef rib roasts, tri-tip, fresh sausages, chicken pieces, turkey pieces, pork chops, pork tenderloin, leg of lamb, and fish fillets (find these recipes at Convection Recipes or Steam Recipes page). With fish fillets, I like to sear the fish on one side in a pan to form a crust, then carefully turn the fish and place the pan in a 200-degree oven to finish. Cooking fish this way yields exceptional results.
How Does Convection Benefit this Method of Cooking?
Keep in mind, that we need heat to cook food but heat can destroy food. When using the circulating heat of Convection, food will retain more moisture achieving that perfect balance of flavor and great texture with minimal moisture loss.
During this long slow cooking in Convection, heat gently penetrates into the meat cooking it evenly from the edge to the center. Preventing moisture loss leads to great results; however, meats cooked in this mode tend to be very pink even when the target internal temperature has been reached. I find a few minutes in the Steam oven set to the Reheating mode does the trick to remove any pink tinge to appease any concerned parties.
Stay tuned for my next post, How to Roast a Chicken in Convection. Anyone can roast a chicken right, well I believe Convection does it best, so please stop by to learn more.
In the meantime, I hope you will browse the selection of recipes for Low-Temperature Cooking under Convection Recipes and Steam Recipes, so you can experience how remarkable this method of cooking is.