During the warmer months, when the kids come home, we’re likely to turn the grill on and cook burgers, brats, or chicken on the deck. Now the colder weather has chased us in. But that doesn’t mean we have to give up grilling; we can do it in the oven.
Grilling in the oven is like cooking on the grill with the lid down. Just as the lid on the grill captures the heat so that your food cooks from the top and the bottom, so does the oven door. Use a rack so the heat can circulate under the food, and you’ll rarely have to turn the meat you’re cooking. Use aluminum foil to catch the drippings and you’ll have very little clean-up.
What’s the difference between grilling in your oven and baking in your oven?
Sure you can put your meat in a pan and stick it in the oven. The juices will flow from the meat and create the pool that your meat is cooking in. Grilling in the oven allows the juices to drop through to some sort of catch basin below, dropping through just like they do out on your deck. Grilling in your oven is not “wet” cooking.
If you put the meat in a baking dish, the dish inhibits the hot air from getting under the meat. Additionally, the pan is going to reflect the heat. Often, to capture the heat and have the food cook more evenly, you put a lid on your pan. The lid captures the steam, and you’re steaming the food.
All it takes to grill in your oven is the right kind of pan.
What’s the difference between broiling in your oven and grilling in your oven?
You might have a two-part pan intended for broiling in your oven. It has holes in the top part of the pan where you put the food, and the pan beneath acts as a catch basin. Broiling in your oven is like cooking on your grill with the lid up-except the heat is coming from the top, not the bottom. The oven door is left ajar so that the oven doesn’t catch the heat, and the food cooks from the radiant heat from above. The results are very similar to cooking on your grill with the lid up. And for everything but the thinnest pieces, you will need to turn the meat.
Grilling in your oven is cooking your meat from the top and the bottom at the same time. The oven door is closed.
There is nothing wrong with broiling food in your oven. It’s just different. For us, the disadvantages are that we usually have to turn the meat and the oven door is open. Still, it can be quick and effective.
What to Use for a Pan
We improvise. We use a cooling rack and a baking sheet. Our 11 x 17-inch baking sheets have a one-inch high rim. Our large cooling racks, what we use for cookies, are 11 x 17-inches also and the legs fit inside the baking sheets perfectly. The racks don’t slip around in the pan, which is convenient, and the hot air passes through the rack to cook the bottom of the meat. Before assembling the rack and pan, we line the pan with aluminum foil for easy clean-up. We simply throw the aluminum foil away and brush the rack clean before the food has a chance to dry on.
The cooling racks that we sell are chrome plated, not stainless steel. Some feel that stainless is safer than chrome, that chrome may taint the meat. We’re not scientists, and we have found statements saying that chromed steel is safe and that it isn’t. We can’t find any stainless cooling racks. But for us, we’re comfortable using chromed steel.
You’ll have to decide whether chromed steel is safe.
If you don’t want to use a chromed steel rack, use a grilling pan. Grilling pans come in two pieces: A top piece with holes so that the drippings will fall through and a bottom pan to catch the drippings.
You won’t get the same air circulation under the meat with a grilling pan as you get with the open grate of a cooling rack. If there is not enough hot air under the first pan to cook the meat evenly, prop the rack up so that more air can flow under the meat. The handle of a table knife or other utensil propped between the two pans in each corner should create enough air flow to equalize the temperatures. See the image to the right.
How to Grill in the Oven
Here’s the general method for grilling in your oven with very little clean-up.
1.Line a baking sheet with foil. Set an oven-safe rack on theYou should have at least an inch of air space between the rack and pan.
2.Set the oven shelf to the upper third of the oven.
3.Preheat the oven.
4.Set the meat on the rack and place the pan with rack in the oven.
5.With the oven set on “bake,” cook until done.
That’s all there is to it. Once you know your cooking times, you can just set the timer and walk away. There is no cooking over a hot stove, no grease splatter, and little clean up. It’s easy.