Steam and Convection: The Perfect Pairing?
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Serious chefs take note: A new wave of ovens combining steam cooking technology with traditional convection functions may be the perfect cooking combination. Advocates of steam ovens claim that steam is the best way to cook because it adds moisture, retains nutrients, and maintains, or even enhances, flavor. Additional benefits include faster cooking times (imagine roasting a turkey in just 90 minutes), lower energy use, ability to reheat foods without drying them out, and no need for added oils or fats for flavor or for non-stick purposes (the moisture takes care of that). The drawbacks? Detractors bemoan the fact that steam cooking doesn't brown foods. Steam ovens are also known for their small interiors. Combi-steam ovens provide the benefits of steam paired with the finishing touches that convection delivers. But the cost of these new ovens can be daunting, and the question is whether the long-term energy savings and benefits outweigh the upfront investment. Here are some options to consider. If you have experiences with steam or combi-steam ovens, please let us know what you think in the comments section below. Above: New in 2012, the Wolf 24-inch Convection Steam Oven offers 12 cooking modes, four rack levels, and comes with two stainless steel pans. It can be mounted with a standard or flush inset (30-inch trim kits are available); $3,500 at AJ Madison. Above: The Wolf 24-Inch Convection Steam Oven offers the largest interior capacity (1.8 cubic feet) of any steam oven on the market. Above: The Thermador Masterpiece 24-Inch Combination Steam / Convection Oven offers steam, conventional convection, and steam/convection cooking modes. With a 1.4 cubic-foot capacity, it comes with one rack, two perforated pans, and two non-perforated pans; $2,999 at Plessers. Above: Gaggenau 24-Inch Combination Steam and Convection Oven offers Gaggenau's signature minimal styling and has a swing door that opens a full 180-degrees for ease of use. This built-in oven has a direct water connection with (plumbing connection required) for an unlimited water supply; $6,999. Contact Gaggenau to locate a dealer near you. Above: From a century-old German kitchen cooker company known for its professional-grade cookers, the Kuppersbusch Combination Steam Oven was a winner of the Red Dot Design Award; $4,740 through Kuppersbusch Dealers . Above: The versatile, compact (1.1 cubic-foot capacity) Sharp SuperSteam Oven offers steam, convection, toasting, and microwave modes in one appliance. It can be built in (with a trim kit) or placed on the countertop; $916.49 (for the stainless steel finish) at AJ Madison.