The Uncommon Oven Thing You’re Not Doing

You may not see this mentioned in your oven manual, but there’s a way to cook with it that’s not advertised. Unless you’re used to throwing down your chef skills with a wood-fired oven, you may be surprised to learn just what your oven is capable of doing.

Hip to some and unheard of to others is the concept of cooking on the oven floor. Professional chefs and home cooks have been doing it to foods like turkeys, pizza, and bread. How does it work? Well, that depends on several factors, including your oven. But first, let’s talk about all the pros of this technique.

Food52’s feature on the method cites the book Bowls of Plenty by food writer Carolynn Carreño. If it’s roasted veggies with crispy, browned outsides and silky insides that you’re looking for, then she says this is the way to go. The oven floor provides even heating that’s in close contact with what you’re cooking.

Not to mention it gets very, very hot down there. So hot that some people fall out of love with restaurant pizza and cook their own at home. Food52 mentions removing the racks and placing either your baking sheet or pizza stone in the oven to preheat before adding the food. You also want to bake at a high temperature: 450° – 500° for the best roasted or baked results.

Some folks use a cast iron skillet for roasting or as an inverted tool to set cooking pans on. Positioning the baking sheet on top of the inverted skillet can help achieve the same awesome results. If your mouth is watering at the thought of succulent turkey skin or tarts with perfect crusts, it is here that we should lay out some of the cons of the technique.

First and foremost, this may not work with all oven brands or types. Depending on how yours is built, cooking on the oven floor might not be an option at all. Consider whether the metal bottom is sturdy enough to withstand the weight of your heavy bakeware. In addition, some cookware doesn’t do well with high temps. Tip: dark metal pans absorb heat faster while light metal helps to reduce burning.
 

Image of roasted food on pans.James Ransom via Food52

There is also the issue that some ovens have vents in the bottom that will cause problems if blocked – safety problems. You’ll see this design often with gas ovens. You have to be mindful of where the heating element sits. The key here? Check with your oven manufacturer directly if it’s not clearly spelled out in the manual.
 
Once you get the all clear, have at it and create some at-home gourmet meals. Bake and roast without lining your pans because according to Food52, this trick will bring bigger caramelized flavor. Yum!
 
Should the oven floor not be a viable option for you, there’s always the bottom rack. You can still get the crispy result you’re looking for.

Have you ever tried cooking anything on your oven floor? What were your results? Are you interested in trying this technique?