Friday 29 November 2013

Potato and Parsnip Gratin

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I recently received a lovely Halogen Oven from Argos.  This was something which Todd and I had been thinking about getting for quite some time.   Our friends Sheilagh and Ralph had gotten one last year and waxed rhapsodical about it's qualities and how deliciously it roasted chicken.

You may be wondering that is a Halogen oven?  Well, a Halogen oven is a portable, multi-purpose, table-top oven which uses halogen technology which enables food to be cooked using infrared waves from a halogen light source.  It is said to cook up to 40 % faster than a conventional oven, and in doing so, uses less power and is therefore very economical to use.  A Halogen oven will roast, grill, defrost, bake and steam with the convenience of merely plugging it into an earthed mains power socket.

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It consists of a large glass bowl, which rests on a metal base.  The workings are all in the lid which sits atop the glass bowl. It should come with two racks (a lower one and a taller one) and a set of tongs which are useful for lifting the racks out.   You can also buy special cooking pans that will fit perfectly into the oven.   You can cook either directly on the racks, or in dishes and trays which are the right size to fit in.  There are two control switches on the top, one which controls the temperature of the oven and the other which controls the time.  Easy peasy.

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The first thing I cooked in it was a chicken crown.  It was one I had picked up at the grocery store and was already seasoned with lemon and pepper.  I added a nice knob of butter to the top.  It was quite interesting to watch the oven at work.  That light was really bright.   It didn't stay on the whole time.  It flashed on and off and the fan inside blew the hot air around.

It was a fairly large chicken crown and so I put it in at 200*C/400*F for approximately 45 minutes, which was slightly less than the time recommended in the package.  I was glad that I had.  It does seem to cook a lot quicker than the conventional oven.

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In fact I was quite concerned when I took it out, thinking I had actually cremated it.  Scary!  It looks quite black doesn't it.   But . . .

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The chicken meat itself was really moist and perfectly cooked.  I think the herb mixture on top had caused the skin to blacken somewhat, which really wasn't a problem at all.

Next I decided to cook a potato and parsnip gratin in it.

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It was a very simple gratin, composed simply of thinly sliced potatoes and parsnips, layered  with some chopped onion, herbs and cheese, along with some milk.

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Apparently it can take some vegetables longer too cook in the Halogen Oven than others.  I hedged my bets by slicing mine really thin and the dish was perfectly done in about an hour.  I removed the foil from the top for the last fifteen minutes so that the top would brown.

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It went really well with the chicken.  The vegetables were cooked perfectly, and maintained their shape.  Taking the cover off for the last fifteen minutes made for a lovely golden topping, and it wasn't dry at all.   In short perfect.  I was very impressed with it's performance.

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*Potato and Parsnip Gratin*
Makes 2 to 3 servings  
It takes a while to cook, but it's so delicious it is well worth the wait.  Instructions are for the Halogen oven, but you can just as easily bake this in a regular oven. 

250g of potatoes (generous half pound)
250g of parsnips (generous half pound)
1 medium onion, peeled and chopped
1 clove of garlic, peeled and minced
large bunch of parsley
100g of cheddar cheese, grated (3/4 cup)
fine sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
5 TBS milk
2 TBS butter   

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Remove the lid from the oven and place the lower rack inside.  Replace the lid and preheat the oven o 200*C. 

Peel and very thinly slice the parsnips and potatoes.   Finely chop the onion, garlic and parsley.  Butter a shallow baking dish and layer the potato and parsnip slices into the dish along with 2/3 of the cheese and the onion mixture, seasoning each layer lightly as you go.   Pour over the milk and scatter over the remaining cheese.  Dot the top with butter and cover with tightly with some buttered foil or a lid. 

Put the dish into the hot oven.  Cook for 60 minutes until piping hot and cooked through.   I uncovered it for the last 15 minutes and got a lovely golden brown top.

Alternately you can do this in a regular oven at the same temperature and for the same time.

I am going to try to bake something in it next.   I think possibly a flourless chocolate cake.  What do you think???

So my verdict.  The oven did indeed cook in a shorter time and so would save a bit on the electric bill, and everything I cooked in it was moist and not dry.  The chicken was especially succulent, which is good for a chicken breast which can dry out so very easily.  It was fairly easy to use.  It is a bit on the bulky side, but I have a very small kitchen and so something doesn't have to be very large in order to cause storage stress.  It is the perfect size for Todd and myself, but I can see where it would be somewhat limiting to anyone who had a large family to cook for.  A small to medium size chicken could fit in quite nicely, but I don't think you would get a large one in, or a small turkey either.  It would have to be very small.

Here is one of the biggest bonus's of all  . . . .

It is basically self cleaning, which is just fabulous!  You just add cool water and a bit of soap to the bowl, once it has cooled down.  (Don't add cold water to a hot bowl!) Turn it onto the clean cycle for about 10 to 15 minutes and Bob's your uncle!  Done!  Most impressive.  All I had to do was to rinse it and wipe it out with a towel to dry.

You can get one of these lovely ovens at Argos right now for £44.99, which is 25% off the regular price.  The delivery time is really quick or you can pick it up sooner if you have an Argos in your immediate area.  I highly recommend.


  1. That pan looks great. I hadn't heard of it before.
    The potatoe parsnip gratin looks so delicious. We have just discovered the parsnip as it isn't very popular here in The netherlands. I must say we love it. We use it in stews and soups now. This is certainly a recipe I want to try.
    Have a wonderful weekend.

  2. I think you will enjoy it Moncha, it's simple and very tasty. You have a great weekend too!

  3. Yrs ago..over 20..we bought a tabletop convection unit that looks and cleans exactly like yours..We still make our roast chicken in moist and ahve so many neat things in your kitchen!

  4. I've not seen one of these ovens before, but they look great. I especially like the self-cleaning aspect :-)

    Yum, yum on the gratin. I love root veggies, and think that it's sad that they are often overlooked by people, because they are cheap and nutritious and quite delicious if cooked correctly.

  5. Looks like a neat gadget.

    Both meals look fantastic.


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