Field Trip | A Lesson in Steam

Last week my friend Cordell and I stopped by Kitchens at the Denver to have a skillfully prepared lunch with Dave Hyde. Maybe you’ve heard about steam ovens and the benefits of cooking with steam, maybe you haven’t — we saw firsthand the benefits of a meal cooked in a steam oven. Dave, a district sales manager for BSH Home Appliances, gave us a look at the Thermador Pro Grand Steam Range and how even a self-proclaimed amateur in the kitchen can make a delicious and perfectly cooked meal using steam.

Waiting for Cordell (he is always late) Dave explained that steam ovens aren’t new to the culinary scene as we munched on a cinnamon roll. There has been a Gaggenau steam oven on the market for over ten years and most high end restaurants have a steam oven in the kitchen, but for the average kitchen user steam ovens are still something we’re unsure of.  What difference does it make? Is it just for steaming vegetables? Can’t I do that on my cooktop?

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We found out it makes quite a difference in the preparation of anything from pork roast (yum, good choice, Dave) to potatoes to reheating leftovers. Dave had already put the pork and the potatoes in the steam oven before we had arrived. Both dishes can fit in the seemingly small space at the same time and cook at the same temperature — that’s convenient. And when it was time to put the carrots in the oven, no problem, they fit too. The Pro Grand Steam comes with four pans and a rack to accommodate a variety of dishes.

Filling the water tank is simple and there is no need to go through the hassle of adding plumbing to your oven location. Along the divider between the steam oven and the convection oven is a no-spill slot where water is added when necessary. It tunnels to the bottom on the steam oven, where the water is heated to produce steam. Refilling the water while cooking is usually unnecessary, but if the level is low and water is needed the oven alerts you and more water can be added while food is in the oven.

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While finishing up our lunch Dave explained how cooking with steam helps maintain the integrity of food. When you simply throw something in the oven you are essentially baking out the nutrients. There is a reason you have to baste meat continuously and stir or flip vegetables in the oven — they are drying out and not cooking consistently. Say goodbye to that with a steam oven.

The Pro Grand has two functions in the steam oven — steam by itself and steam convection. When using the steam convection function you don’t have to worry about food burning on the bottom or not cooking all the way through. The convection forces the moist air around the 1.4 cubic feet of oven space. Dave pulled the pork out a little earlier than the veggies to let it rest and it was the just-right golden brown. How did it taste? Moist and prepared to medium-medium-rare. The carrots were a bright orange (steam helps food hold its color) with the right amount of tenderness and the potatoes were just crispy enough and soft on the inside. The high temperature allows food to crisp up, while the steam keeps food moist.

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Not sure how to convert to cooking with steam? The Pro Grand comes with a temperature guide covering most ingredients, including vegetables, bread, meat and fish. While cooking with steam might seem a little foreign to us it only takes one experience to understand its simplicity. And you don’t have to completely switch over to steam — the Pro Grand has a traditional convection oven as well as a gas cooktop and a griddle grill component.

As we finished up lunch and offered to help clean up we learned when it is all said and done the easiest thing to clean is the oven. The speckles of splatter wipe right up, remember the juices didn’t get baked onto the surface — it’s not a desert in there, it’s a sauna.

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A big thanks to Dave Hyde and Cindy Hellgren for inviting us to lunch. Stop by Kitchens at the Denver for a chance to see the Thermador Pro Grand Steam Range in person. For more information visit the Kitchens at the Denver website.

Words & images: Kelsey MacArthur