Thursday, December 2, 2010

Thank You, Glorious Hot Oven!

Toward the end of September, a gas leak was discovered at our apartment complex. The city turned off the gas while they inspected the problem, and we were left without heat or hot water. After one long week of taking very quick, very cold showers and boiling big pots of water on the stove for baths (the only time I've ever appreciated having an electric range), we finally got our hot water back. But, two and a half months after the big shut-off, the gas line to our furnace is still out of commission. On this wintry day in December, we are relying on one small space heater to keep our entire house warm (we have blown some fuses, yes we have!). And when I say the space heater is keeping the house warm, I use the word "warm" very loosely. It's pretty chilly.

So I'd like to issue a big, hearty thank you to my oven  for churning out lots of wonderful supplementary heat (along with some pretty decent food) over the past few months. Any meal that emerges from a hot oven is a treat at this time of year, but I've devoted myself to the oven with a special intensity lately. Dishes that require long hours of slow roasting or braising create the opportunity for lots of luscious, wonderful heat to leak out of the oven and into the house. These dishes also tend to be meltingly tender with lots of deep caramelized flavor. Both outcomes are most welcome. I've dusted off old some old recipes from winters past and also discovered some good new recipes in my quest to make the oven serve double duty both as both a food-cooker and a house-heater. Some recent oven-as-furnace favorites include pot roast with root vegetables (3.5 hours oven time), a french onion soup that uses oven-braised caramelized onions (2.5 hours oven time), carnitas with corn tortillas and green sauce (4 hours oven time), and roast chicken with roasted smashed red potatoes (1.5 hours oven time). Recipes to follow. Stay tuned. Thanks again, oven!

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