Thursday, January 16, 2003

Idiot proof cooking

This Christmas I got a Baby George rotisserie, and it's terrific.

About any idiot can use it. You'll have to find something that will fit the dimensions obviously - they sell a slightly bigger one too. It might be a PITA getting the long skewer all the way through a roast and well-centered enough to keep from harming the motor or touching the food to the heating elements. But other than that it's difficult to see how anyone could have trouble with it.

It's fairly easy to clean too. The front cover comes off easily and there's a removable drip pan. The reflector in the back gets some spatter and is obnoxious to get at, but stuff doesn't seem to burn on to it and it never touches the food.

Anything like this with moving parts is subject to "walking". That's especially true if you have an unevenly distributed load. No problem for Baby George - it has rubber suction feet, so it will stay where you put it.

Although you don't want to put anything right on top of it, I've had it right under some cabinets and I haven't had any problems. You won't want to hold your hand there, but those cheapie apartment cabinets I have won't be harmed.

This week the big local grocers had roast beef on sale, so I'll be cooking two roasts. I'll rub the outsides with whatever is handy, probably this Emeril stuff I have laying around. Then it gets skewered, put into the machine, and I set the timer as appropriate.

What's appropriate? The company suggests using a meat thermometer, but I usually go by the color on the outside. You can't really use a meat thermometer as recommended unless you're going to keep inserting it and removing it - there isn't enough room for any one I've ever seen. The instructions give guidelines for cook times for various types of food, but a reasonably experienced cook will know by looking. I've been known to use one of those electronic food thermometers too - here's an example, but you can get one for about half this price at Wal-Mart.

So for about 10 minutes' fuss ahead of time, a couple of hours of cooking, and maybe another 10 minutes at the end (and light cleanup), even a lousy chef can have excellent roasts. You vegetarians are on your own.

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