The proof of the chicken's in the eating
In the name of science, Chris Smith and Katie Haylor tucked into a roast chicken dinner cooked for them by professional chefs Alex Rushmer and Lawrence Butler, in a brand new oven created by engineer Mark Williamson...
Alex - Right, dinner’s served.
Chris - Are you ready to go?
Alex - Yeah, we are. Sit down and eat.
Chris - Everyone’s at the table already. I’m late to this. So we got chicken, we have sauce, we have amazing Yorkshire puddings, and we have the broccoli.
Lawrence - It’s all right for a mid week lunch isn’t it? This has come together remarkably well. I’m pretty happy with it.
Chris - Shall we actually taste some and then we can decide whether or not we’re going to give Mark the thumbs up or kick him out the door. I saw you sticking the temperature probe in there because, obviously, in a commercial premises like this, you’ve got to be really careful about food safety because of infections and so on, salmonella, campylobacter and so on that you can get from poultry?
Alex - We remove the chicken from the oven when it was what we call coring - core temperature of 75°and then it continues to rise up. So you’re looking at, for chicken, probably around about 80° for it to be fully safe to eat or 75° for a number of minutes.
Chris - And that was after fewer than 35 minutes in the oven which, if that were a conventional oven, how hot would a cold chicken in at get go have got to after 35 minutes?
Alex - I think you are looking at probably about 20/25 degrees below that point. There is no way you could eat a chicken that had been roasted in a conventional oven for that amount of time after 35 minutes.
Chris - Katie looks like she’s going to murder someone if you don’t give her some chicken quite soon.
Alex - Here you go. We’ll solve that problem.
Katie - Thank you very much.
Chris - Are you confident Mark? You looking quite confident over there.
Mark- I always worried but I’m secretly confident, I think, because we’ve done it once or twice before.
Chris - The gravy’s coming Katie. Don’t worry, we’re going to get to you soon, don’t worry.
Katie - Mark, whilst the gravy’s getting dished up, what else have you cooked in this oven? What do you know it can cook and are there any things it can’t cook?
Mark - we started off trying to cook the perfect pizza. Our pizzas are charred on the bottom, which you just cannot do in a conventional oven.
Chris - I don’t know, I’m quite good at that sometimes Mark.
Mark - Well, nicely charred. We can do nice pizzas in about seven or eight minutes versus 30 minutes in a conventional oven with a nice base to them. We’re confident about chicken and similar sort of larger food items. Yorkshire puddings we’ve done, and the work continues. I mean Alex and Lawrence have got their work cut out now to cover the full range.
Chris - I’m just going to get some of the sauce if that’s all right? Oh go on then. Let’s tuck in.
Katie - Cheers.
Chris - Any good Katie?
Katie - I think this is the best chicken I’ve ever had in my life.
Chris - Cooked by a master chef as well, no less. He’s got a mouthful so that’s a good sign if the chef has a mouthful.
Alex - I think the results they speak for themselves really don’t they? The chicken is super juicy. Because we are reducing the cooking time we’re reducing the moisture loss from the chicken so all those juices that might otherwise be lost to the oven, they stay in the chicken because it is only cooking for 30/35 minutes. And I think it’s a superb roast chicken.
Chris - would you serve that up to Greg Wallace? Would he pass muster on that do you think?
Alex - I think Greg would be delighted with that.
Chris - I’m gonna have some. I’m very jealous everyone else is tucking in. Okay Mark, I believe you now.
Mark- Thank you Chris, thank you. There’s a number of different things you can do with it that you just simply can’t do with other ovens. The induction plate in the bottom opens up a whole plethora of different techniques that you can use in ways that you can start out the cooking process in different fashions. We are trying to come up with new recipes for it and bits and bobs, and there’s just so much stuff that we are thinking of that we can try and do with it.
Katie - Do you think it would you change the way that we cook at home?
Mark - Absolutely. It’s going to change how often people do it because of how much quicker it is. I think it’s going to change the quality of the meals that people are able to produce at home. And what me and Alex are trying to do, finding recipes specifically to use for it, that’s going to change how easy it is for people to replicate the same things that we are doing, at home.
Chris - I’m going to raise a toast to Mark’s oven because it’s one thing to come out and make a damn good radio programme, it’s another when you actually get fed. And it tastes absolutely delicious. Cheers Mark.
Katie - Chris, I’ve just realised we’ve been cooked this delicious meal, does that mean we have to do the washing up?
Chris - Yeah. Have you invented a new dishwasher yet Mark?
Mark - The oven actually helps you with the washing up as well. We have a water canister in the top of the oven and if you preloaded it with cold water it captures all the heat from the vent gases in the oven, and at the end of your cooking cycle you will have hot water to do the washing-up with.