Published Nov 17, 2003

Usually I cook a tasty and reasonably gourmet meal weekly, so I’d anticipated more entries in this section. Sadly, I’ve been foiled. I moved to a new apartment, and the stove here has been broken for the last month. I’ve been surviving on microwave meals, which are not that exciting to blog about. But today I got tired of nuking my dinner. Today I decided to take a chance. Yes, today I decided to use my toaster oven to broil.

I’ve always been suspicious of the broil function on toaster ovens. Broiling is a pretty high-heat form of cooking, and I just don’t believe such a small (and made-of-plastic!) oven could get that hot. But my owner’s manual claims otherwise, so I decided to take the manufacturer at his or her word and broil myself a quick dinner.

I bought some boneless pork cutlets, since those broil up well and are a nice change from what I usually eat. I marinated those cutlets, along with some red peppers and red onions, in salt, pepper, and apple cider vinegar; then I broiled the cutlets and some of the veggies for about 15 minutes. It came out looking like this:
a plate of pork with a bowl of salad on the side

Not bad, but not crusty like a good broil should be. The crust, with its caramelized juices, imparts a distinctive (and yummy!) flavor to the broil, beyond the tastes from the individual ingredients. That’s where the toaster oven’s lack of heat lets us down; a broiler needs to be like a blast furnace to char a crust on top of the meat or vegetable being broiled. With less heat, the food gets cooked through but lacks a crust. Cooking the food longer, at the lower heat level, will only dry the food out, not make a crust.

Still, I’d broil in my toaster oven again in a pinch. It was quick, easy, and reasonably tasty. And only mildly boring.

Tomorrow, I might try adding some hot sauce to the marinade. If I can’t make the method of cooking exciting, I can at least make the taste dangerous!