Avoiding Smoke Alarm Cooking
May 1, 2008 5:21 PM   Subscribe

I have a cranky oven that seems to set off the smoke alarm whenever I cook anything above 350 degrees. What easy, 8 ingredients or less recipes can you recommend that use low temps, say 200-300 degrees, in the oven?

Yes, my oven is clean. It just smokes alot and my neighbors are probably so used to hearing it go off that they just roll their eyes at me. I do love roasted meats, and I especially, dearly love Thomas Kellers' roasted chicken recipe, but the oven has to be at 500 degrees and it's a smoky, greasy mess despite all its chickeny goodness. Otherwise, I'd be making that every week.

So help me avoid Smoke Alarm Cooking. Recommend some simple recipes that work best at low temps. I prefer chicken, meat, and pork recipes. Fish okay. Lamb, not so much. Being a lazy cook, I also prefer recipes with less than 8 ingredients.

Please don't bother with slow cooker recipes, I already have one and use slow cooker recipes for it.
posted by HeyAllie to Food & Drink (21 answers total) 7 users marked this as a favorite
I have that problem as well - instead of changing my recipes, I just set up a stand fan to keep the air moving in the area of the smoke detector. The detector will still go off if there was a real fire, but the moving air tends to desensitize enough that I can cook.

But, if you want low-temp cooking, a slab 'o pork ribs, wrapped in foil and roasted in the oven for about 2 or 3 hours or so at 250F, works pretty well for me.
posted by deadmessenger at 5:33 PM on May 1, 2008

I ... I know I'm not answering the question (wince), but why not remove the smoke alarm's battery, just while you're cooking? If you're in the vicinity while cooking, you'll know if there's a fire in the area so it's not a hazard. Then pop the battery back in when you're done? This seems so much easier than coming up with low-heat recipes, especially when you have higher-heat recipes that you really like.
posted by iguanapolitico at 5:36 PM on May 1, 2008

There's an insanely easy salmon recipe that I usually cook at about 375, but I wonder if you could do it just by keeping it in the oven longer at 300 or 325? Put couple of nice filets in a baking dish, season with salt and pepper, spread on a thin layer of half dijon mustard and half plain yogurt, and then top off with plenty of dill. Pour a little white wine in the bottom of the baking dish (half a cup, maybe? I just eyeball it), cover, then bake. At 375 it's done in about 20 mins. (with the wine bubbling and the salmon flaky all the way through), so if you do it at 325, maybe you can start checking it at 25 mins.
posted by scody at 5:39 PM on May 1, 2008

I did try removing the smoke alarm battery, but it still beeps annoyingly to let me know its battery is not working. Can't blame it, it's trying to do its job.

I also tried putting a shower cap over the smoke alarm, but it kept falling off. I'm short, it's way up high on a wall that is almost impossible for me to reach without risking a broken neck.

I've also tried blowing a fan near the oven, keeping windows open, etc. Not much fun when it's 12 degrees outside.

I guess not only do I have a cranky oven, but a really sensitive smoke alarm!

Plus, I'm just really curious about tasty meats roasted at long temps in general.
posted by HeyAllie at 5:44 PM on May 1, 2008


I don't have my German ancestor's recipe for it handy, but this recipe from alton brown looks really close to ours.

And yes, our traditional recipe actually uses ginger snaps to thicken the gravy as well. I know it sounds crazy, but it's quite tasty. Serve it over egg noodles, and YUM!
posted by Project F at 5:53 PM on May 1, 2008

Hi Scody! That salmon recipe sounds great. I love salmon. I think that one at 375 degrees would be okay as you suggested because covering it probably avoids splattering.

By the way, an earlier thread today asked about cast iron cooking, so I did post my one and only lonely low temp recipe, the carnitas at 200 degrees for a couple of hours.

Keep the suggestions coming...
posted by HeyAllie at 5:53 PM on May 1, 2008

(Oh, and I realize his recipe says 325, but I'm absolutely certain that it would work fine at 300 or 275 as well.)
posted by Project F at 5:54 PM on May 1, 2008

I made an excellent pulled pork once by slow pot roasting a pork leg covered in vinegar in a dutch over in the over but I do not remember what temp I did it at... you sear the roast first on the stovetop and then slow roast it for hours until it just falls apart. As long as you get to an internal temperature of 160 F you should be good no matter what temperature the oven is. I'd suggest slow-roasting the pork leg (again, totally covered in vinegar) at 300 for a few hours and then check it with a meat thermometer.

Once it's cooked you let it cool a bit then pull it and toss it with sauce. Holy crap is it good.
posted by GuyZero at 6:06 PM on May 1, 2008

I have a similar problem (due to a small apartment) and the trick is to point the fan at the smoke detector, not at the oven. I usually prop the fan on an angle with some books. Not elegant, but it works!
posted by MissSquare at 6:11 PM on May 1, 2008

Make a pan of mashed potatoes. Set aside.

In a casserole dish:

-Boneless, skinless chicken tenderloins on the bottom.
-Pour enough chicken or vegetable stock to cover the bottom of the dish about 1/2 inch.
-Sprinkle whatever seasoning you like on the chicken. I like Johnny's seasoning salt.
-A layer of chopped veggies. I use a frozen "Normandy Mix" from Costco. Cauliflower, broccoli, squash, carrots. But use whatever you like.
-Cover generously with a mix of shredded mozzarella and cheddar cheese.
-Layer the mashed potatoes on top of everything. Add a little more cheese mix on top.

Bake at 350 covered for about 20 minutes, then uncovered for another 15 or 20. Cooking time varies, but the point is to thoroughly cook the chicken, and have the potatoes brown, if possible. (I usually broil at the end, but you can't do that.) The stock should keep the chicken nice and moist.

I'm hungry.
posted by Fuzzy Skinner at 6:13 PM on May 1, 2008

Here's the one real thing that I can cook.

Get a round casserole dish like this, and place 4 chicken thighs in the bottom (not skinless! you will miss some flavor). On top of that put 1 to 1.5 cups of rice. Then add a pack of onion soup mix. Then add one can of cream of chicken soup and one can of water. Cover with the lid and bake at 325 for 2 hours. I recommend putting a baking sheet underneath because it will boil over and then you'll surely have the smoke detector going off.

It's so easy and so tasty. We usually cook it on lazy Sunday afternoons.
posted by chiababe at 6:55 PM on May 1, 2008

the oven may be clean, but have you lifted the top and looked under the burners? there may be some crud there. A smoking oven is definitely not normal. Are you sure it isn't a burning wire insulation or other dangerous thing?

And to answer the question, a lot of slow-cooked crock pot/casserole dishes go in the oven at less than 300 degrees.
posted by Rumple at 8:21 PM on May 1, 2008

I use oven bags which has stopped the smoke issue for me, and also makes the meat more tender and juicy.
posted by Admira at 8:22 PM on May 1, 2008

I would check the oven very carefully for anything burned inside. My family used to have an oven with a top rack that was little used. We had this problem: whenever anyone used the oven, the smoke detector would go off. Finally we searched the oven and found a small baked potato that had been left in the top rack by mistake. After repeated bakings, it had converted completely to carbon, a black, weightless ghost of its former self.
posted by bad grammar at 8:37 PM on May 1, 2008 [1 favorite]

Pick up an oven thermometer, should only be a few bucks, just got one myself, make sure that what it says on the oven dial is actually the temperature the oven is at. You may find a large discrepancy.
posted by hungrysquirrels at 5:11 AM on May 2, 2008

You can roast any cut of mammal at under 350 as long as the internal temperature is safe; you just need to cook it longer.

For example, a pork or lamb shoulder rubbed with a paste made from chopped herbs, mustard and bread crumbs can be cooked at as low as 225 for four to six hours. It will be amazingly succulent. Get a probe thermometer and stick it in the center of mass and pull it out when the internal temperature is to your liking. I like my pork a little less done than is considered 'truly safe', so 150-155. Lamb can be even cooler: 140.
posted by ten pounds of inedita at 6:25 AM on May 2, 2008

Look for recipes for the crockpot (also called slow cooker). 200-300 degrees is the range of a typical crockpot, so most crockpot recipes will also work really well in a slow oven. Here is a crockpot/oven cooking time conversion chart.

Here at the Squirrel Nut House, we love a pork roast slow-cooked (24 hours in a crockpot, obviously less in a conventional oven) until the meat falls off the bone, then mixed with a good barbecue sauce and served on good rolls. Mmmmm.
posted by SuperSquirrel at 6:29 AM on May 2, 2008

Clean the oven and vacuum out the smoke detector. This may solve your problem.

Also, most cuts of meat actually benefit from long slow cooking at 250 or so. But if you want crispy skin on your chicken you'll have to expose it to high heat for a few minutes.
posted by electroboy at 6:30 AM on May 2, 2008

Do this at your own risk.

What I do is to cover up the smoke detector with an aluminum foil.
posted by WizKid at 7:55 AM on May 2, 2008

Move the smoke detector. Right now, it is not serving its purpose which is to alert you and others nearby in the event of a fire. What happens if there is a real fire and the alarm goes off? Your neighbors will ignore it and roll their eyes.

Though having a smoke detector in the kitchen is required by law in some states, I'd suggest you move it away from the oven. Perhaps across the kitchen, maybe even into an adjacent room, or replace it entirely.
posted by arnicae at 11:05 AM on May 2, 2008

You don't even have to use a fan! We have a similar kitchen/smoke detector problem (and it's direct wired, so we can't take out the batteries), and used the "dorm room solution" on it (ah, college!). Pop a plastic shopping bag over it with a rubber band and make sure to stay near the kitchen in case something does actually 'splode.

Bread and other dough stuff cooks well at about 350 - 375 degrees; you could always make calzones. If you don't want to make your own pizza dough or pie crust for them, it's available at the grocery store. Then pop in whatever you like! Cubed potatoes, carrots, and beef with rosemary; pepperoni, ricotta, and marinara; fresh basil, mozzarella, spinach, and tomatoes... Bake them for about 30 minutes.

My roast chicken recipe calls for 20 minutes at 400, and then an hour and a half or so (breast side down) at 375. It doesn't give you the crispy skin I imagine you'd have at 500 (I've never heard of cooking chicken that high!) but it yields a nice juicy meat. Stuff it with sliced apples, lemons, garlic cloves, sprigs of thyme, and an onion. My husband swears that the longer you cook red meat, the more tender it gets.

You can also bake butternut squash, potato fingers, and sweet potatoes at 375.

I think if you cooked fish for longer at a lower temperature you'd dry it out and toughen it.
posted by GardenGal at 11:53 AM on May 2, 2008

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