Monday, December 10, 2012

My European stove and how to make killer roast potatoes.

Over here in Europe, you love some stuff about your house and you tolerate (or even hate) other things.

When we lived in Belgium, I was not impressed with my kitchen. My oven was Barbie-sized (couldn't even get a large cookie sheet in it), my dishwasher leaked and my stovetop would turn off arbitrarily. This was a huge disaster on Thanksgiving during the crisis hour before serving but that's another story. The stove top was very temperamental. The washer and dryer were also located in this closet-sized room, thereby donning all my cooking gear and surfaces with a thin veil of dryer lint every week when I laundered our clothing.

My kitchen here in Italy is very functional. Small but functional. There just isn't the cupboard space you find in most U.S. houses over here. I have learned to live with the smaller space by putting a lot of stuff I only use once or twice a year in a big rubber bin in the garage. No biggie. I am thankful because, in fact, some houses in Italy don't even come with kitchen cupboards or appliances. You get a kitchen sink and that's it. You have to provide everything else yourself.

Luckily, we are in a government-leased house. This means, we don't have to hassle with installing a kitchen, paying rent or utilities etc.  Everything comes out of your BAH (Basic Allowance for Housing). The U.S. Government provides us with some very nice shelter and pays our utilities (within reason).

The U.S. Government also provides us with large appliances for the length of our stay. We have a 220 volt washer/dryer, refrigerator and oven that we are happy to borrow since we wouldn't have much use for 220 appliances back in the states.

I am particularly in love with my stove/oven in this house. It is gas and heats up very quickly. For the first nine months I used the oven I didn't realize what the black pan was for. It is attached to my one oven rack (yes, you only get one oven rack in Europe) and slides out completely for cleaning . I thought the pan was for catching spills and it has been very useful for that.

When C-Bear's Norwegian friends visited us last Easter, one of them cooked us a lovely dinner and made DELICIOUS ROAST POTATOES while roasting a piece of meat on the oven rack. They were browned perfectly, crunchy on the outside and soft on the inside. It took only twenty minutes and...

GET THIS...

it was made on the black pan attached to my oven rack. Ever since, I've been roasting potatoes and vegies regularly on my black pan.

I know, right? You're thinking... duh. What else would it be for but I truly didn't figure it out until someone showed me. I am sharing here in case there are any other clueless American transplants reading this.

Here are pictures of my potatoes roasting last night...

Pretend you don't see the spills in the bottom of the oven. I haven't cleaned since Thanksgiving.

Delicious roasted potatoes: Chop, toss with oil of choice, place taters on pan in oven at 200C/425F. Cook for 20 minutes, turning once mid-roasting.

Here they are all done.

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