It’s (Not!) Too Darn Hot!

I grew up in a house that was afraid of the oven. 

My mother never – EVER – puts the oven above 350F. She wholeheartedly believes that the house will spontaneously combust if the oven goes anywhere near 400F.

This could be because that’s what her mother told her or it could be because of my propensity to start greasefires, but let’s not dwell on that.

Let’s dwell on when you absolutely MUST put your oven on the HIGHEST TEMPERATURE you can stand in order to get the most out of your meal. 

Pizza

When I took my pizza making class, it was a revelation. Though I still usually buy premade pizza dough (because no matter how hard I try, my bread products consistently turn out tasting like punishments), I always heat my oven up to 475F with the pizza stone in there. I put my dough on a well floured overturned cookie sheet and top it with sauce, cheese, and accouterments. I then open the oven door lightning fast, shimmy  the pizza onto the hot stone, then slam it shut. I turn the oven light on so I can see inside and don’t open the door at ALL until the crust looks golden and the cheese is bubbly hot. This way, the crust turns out super tender and airy with a crackly exterior. Lower heat just makes the crust soggy and sometimes gummy – you really need that blast of constant heat to get restaurant-worthy pizza. 

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Vegetables (broccoli, cauliflower, carrots, green beans)

This is the only way that I get my husband or dad to eat vegetables. It’s SUCH a cliche, but these are men who would live off of fast food hamburgers and milkshakes for the rest of their lives if they could. They just don’t like the taste of vegetables and don’t feel sick if they don’t eat them for weeks on end. The only way that I get them to eat veggies is if they are super crisp and ideally charred within an inch of disintegrating altogether. Toss your vegetables in a bit of olive oil and some seasonings, then just throw them in an oven cranked to 450F and retrieve them after about 45 minutes, turning once. These should not be made ahead of time – the green beans fare best overnight, but nothing will be as crispy and satisfying as it is the day of. Don’t try this with veggies that are too watery or starchy – stick to the ones listed here. Top them with sesame oil, dip them in ketchup, and give thanks to the high heat heavens.

Steak

Because no one wants to eat shoe leather. The cow is already dead…you don’t need to cook it to death again. Unless we are talking short ribs or stew meat, beef MUST be cooked quickly and over high heat. This allows the outside of meat to get a lovely sear and the inside to remain juicy and tender. Start it in a pan over high heat and then finish it quickly in a very, very hot oven to cook the inside to a beautiful medium rare. Just follow these instructions and you won’t ever be disappointed. 

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Fruit

Sprinkle sliced bananas or stone fruit with brown sugar and put them under the broiler on high. In 5 minutes or less, you have a crunchy, juicy, sweet dessert that is PERFECT with shortbread cookies and mascarpone cheese. 

You’re welcome. 

And if you can’t stand the heat…get out of the kitchen. 

Sorry, mom.

Comments

  1. You call not putting it above 350 ‘afraid of the oven’? My parents got rid of the oven before I even fully understood what an oven is. I grew up in a house without an oven! TOASTER OVEN only 🙁
    Gotta try that fruit thing though xo