Hello! There is definitely a recipe today (and I think it’s a great one, though I might be biased), but I managed to write several hundred words about steam oven recipes in general before I got to it. I didn’t really mean to climb on my soapbox, but out came the words and although I could delete some I suspect a few of you will be interested. If not, no drama, just scroll on down past my little ramble…
I think it’s pretty clear that I love my steam oven. I mean, it’s why we’re all here in this little corner of the internet, right?! I use it almost every single day and though it’s a very ‘first-world’ thing to say, I can no longer imagine my cooking life without one. Yet there seems, to me at least, to be a disconnect between what we actually want to cook in these great appliances and what the steam oven manufacturers provide us with instructions and recipes for.
Take, for example, many of the recipes provided by Gaggenau, which is often regarded as the gold standard for steam ovens in terms of build and functionality. If your budget allows, they are truly wonderful ovens and can cook pretty much anything fantastically well. But you wouldn’t know it from the recipes provided with the oven at purchase. I mean, I like a good truffled goose liver terrine as much as the next person (seriously - it sounds pretty delicious despite that horrible photo), but rarely (ok, never) do I have time or occasion to make one. It’s not exactly standard weeknight fare, and nor are most of their other brand-developed recipes.
It’s not all bad news - there are some notable exceptions. For instance, there are a few solid recipes in the Miele steam oven book (think Moroccan chicken hotpot or sticky banoffee puddings, plus several variants on mashed potatoes) and I really like some of the dishes in the Wolf convection steam recipes collection (pretzel buns, anyone? Or maybe an easy method for pork ribs?). In general, though, I get a LOT of complaints via email, Facebook and during face to face demonstrations or classes that go along the lines of, “I bought a steam oven/combi steam oven and can’t find any normal recipes which will help me learn to use it”. So if I’m getting so many of those comments in my little part of the world then there must be thousands of others out there thinking the same thing.
I think some of this recipe disconnect comes down to the fact many of the steam oven manufacturers or their parent companies are European and thus develop recipes to suit that climate and overall sensibility. Perhaps what they view as ‘normal’ food just doesn’t work for US/UK/South Asian/Australian audiences, where a lot of steam ovens are now being sold. Or maybe it’s because it costs companies a lot of money to develop and distribute recipes, so what we’re being offered with our ovens can sometimes be for food which was on trend fifteen or twenty years ago but hasn’t been updated since. Whatever it is, though, it creates a poor user experience for many people. I’d like to think our growing community* of steam oven enthusiasts are beginning to address that but we do have a way to go.
You could say today’s dish is a direct response to all those complex, Euro-centric recipes provided by most of our oven manufacturers. I mentioned it on Instagram last week, and it’s so basic it almost doesn’t deserve a recipe, but in the interests of simple weeknight dinners I’m going to write it up for you anyway. Because I think we could all do with a few more simple dinner go-to recipes in our lives, especially when it comes to using these wonderful steam ovens of ours. It’s very adaptable, so I hope you take it and make it your own.
Chorizo, pumpkin and chicken combi steam tray bake
I have been making variations on this theme ever since I started using a steam oven (well, even before that in my regular oven, though it is much better done in the combi steam oven). The original idea for this particular marriage of flavours came from Nigel Slater – I can’t find an online link anymore but have a hand scrawled recipe for something titled Pumpkin Pan Fry which originally used bacon rather than sausage. And I know we just talked about Mr Slater and his recipes a couple of weeks ago, but what can I say, I have a food crush on the man. At last count I had 8 of his books in my collection, this one is my most cooked from but they’re all great. If you don’t own any of his titles I highly recommend them for both recipes and beautiful writing.
As I said earlier, this is very adaptable. Don’t like pumpkin? Use sweet potatoes, regular potatoes, or cauliflower. Want something green? Add a handful of green beans or broccoli. You can swap in bacon or pancetta for the chorizo, pork chops or even fish for the chicken…hopefully you get the idea. Just adjust when you add things to the oven depending on how long they take to cook.
For the quantities below I use both of my oven’s solid stainless steel trays, as cramming it all onto one means everything stews and you don’t get the nice crispy edges which make the dish so good. Investing in a second full-size tray has been really worthwhile for me, I use it all the time (you can purchase all manner of different sizes and depths should you wish, but my second one is just a slightly deeper version of the one which came with my oven - similar to this). If need be you could cheat with a perforated tray, just cover the base with baking paper before you start.
1kg (2.2lb) pumpkin, peeled, deseeded and cut into 4cm/1.5in dice
1 chorizo sausage, sliced (I use the dried type, you could use a fresh one if you like – just remove skin and break into rough meatballs)
600g (just over 1lb) skinless boneless chicken thighs, halved
Half a 500g loaf of day-old crusty white bread, torn into large pieces (about the same size as the pumpkin)
1 clove garlic, minced
1/3 cup olive oil (seems like a lot, I know – you can use less but the bread sucks up a lot and using less tends to make it a bit dry)
4 large sprigs rosemary
A few tablespoons of basil pesto to serve (totally optional but very nice)
Set your oven to 200⁰C (combination steam). If your oven has variable steam settings, use around 30%.
Toss all your ingredients except the rosemary and the pesto together either in a large bowl or directly on an oven tray, season well with salt and pepper, then spread it out single layer on two solid trays. Tuck the rosemary into the trays (you could strip it and scatter the leaves around but I don’t bother, it works just fine as whole sprigs), then cook for 25 minutes or until everything is cooked through, browned and crispy-edged. You may need to swap the trays over partway through to get them evenly cooked.
Dollop a little pesto over the finished dish and serve immediately. If you don’t manage to eat it all, this keeps for a day or two in the fridge and reheats beautifully at 160⁰C (combination steam).
But I don’t have a steam/combi-steam oven! Cook it in a regular oven - you'll need to drop the temperature to 180⁰C and cook it for maybe 30-35 minutes instead. Don't skimp on the oil or it will dry out. And I would use skin-on chicken instead of skinless here.
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