Pasta In The Oven

 

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Pictured above is Chef Fredrik Rasmusson, the Corporate Chef and Product Development Manager for Rational USA, which is located in Chicago, IL.

I just had the opportunity to learn how to use the Rational Self Cooking Center.

The Rational Self Cooking Center (RSCC) is a computerized commercial foodservice oven. I always love staying up-to-date with technology and I liken this oven/cooking system to an iPhone.

Imagine if your oven was like your smartphone, with all sorts of apps to perform simple tasks intelligently and perfectly. The cooking system allows you to look up recipes, cooking information, instructions, and more. Like apps, the RSCC allows you to measure and report your process. Plus, this system even allows you to write additional programs!

It took me and 5 other professional chefs with over 30 years of experience -- 2 of whom were also from the Culinary Institute of America (CIA) -- about 30 hours to completely learn how the RSCC works. The average chef can learn about it in a couple of hours, but we are going to be going into the field to teach about these resources in a variety of settings, so we needed additional know-how.

The Rational Training Program was very comprehensive. We cooked a ton of different dishes using all of the manual settings and programmed processes in the ovens.

So, what did we learn?

These things are amazing!

Here are some neat features and facts about the RSCC.

  • The RSCC regulates steam, humidity, fan speed, and temperature. Humidity is important to control if you want your food moist or crisp. Check out the pictures below. There's custard baked with steam and a potato au gratin with a crispy top and bottom.
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  • The RSCC also comes with a probe that can measure the internal temperature of a food in 5 different places. The probe helps the oven know the mass of the food and the predicted finish time as well as multiple core temperatures. All of this helps the oven deliver food with a perfect internal temperature when done. It can be used for meat, fish, or poultry. There are many settings that choose temperatures for you and they can be overridden easily for a higher or lower finished temperature. The quality of the cooked meat was very impressive. It was consistently moist, with a buttery texture on each test. Check out the chicken and salmon below...
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  • The alerts on the RSCC tell you when to load the oven, when to complete a step (like adding broth), or when a food is done. This is very significant for foodservice because it is easy to use and many foods and their cooking processes are pre-programmed by the German chefs and engineers.  Consistency and proper cooking are always a challenge in a busy kitchen with multiple users who have various literacy levels and culinary skills. Plus, cooks are often multitasking, making it easy to forget something or take a dish out too soon. Now everything can be cooked perfectly every time. And if you have a special proprietary recipe, you can configure your own program to make your menu item just right. Every time.
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  • The RSCC helps you follow Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Points (HACCP) rules for food safety. It allows you to download cooking records for HACCP analysis, validation, and control.
  • The RSCC can make perfectly cooked pan-fried fish, oven-fried chicken and fish, and oven-fried French fries without added fat. This can cut out up to 90% of the fat used in a commercial kitchen. This feat can be accomplished with a special grilling pan and the oven's ability to draw out steam and humidity while the food is cooking. The salmon below was cooked without any added fat and the inside was perfectly moist while the outside was crispy -- like it was fried in oil. Our school foodservice colleague was impressed with this feature and I know he'll want to implement it to help attain USDA standards for school menus and to make the kids' food more healthful and tasty.
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  • The RSCC grills vegetables, fish, and meat or poultry. Check out the gorgeous grill marks!
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  • The RSCC also roasts meat and poultry perfectly. It can even roast meat all night so that it's ready in the morning. The RSCC makes a medium-rare steak or roast that is evenly medium-rare all the way through, with 20% less shrinkage!
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  • Furthermore, the RSCC allows you to choose a special cooking process for meat. It's called Delta T. The Delta T involves setting the temperature differential between the oven and the meat so that the oven heats slowly and raises its temperature continuously in line with the meat until your final internal temperature goal is reached. We set the finished temperature goal for a roast at 130 degrees Fahrenheit with the Delta T of 50 degrees Fahrenheit in order to get the amazing result above. There is also a smoking attachment that allows you to smoke wood chips while you are using the overnight roasting setting. We used that to make ribs.
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  • The RSCC can track many different foods cooked at once. You just let it know which food is on each rack and it will buzz as each food is perfectly done. A breakfast that had eggs, toast, tomatoes, bacon and sausage was cooked at the same time, with each item finished just minutes from the other. And a steamed dinner program cooked ravioli, salmon, and broccoli perfectly together, buzzing as each one was done at just the right time.
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  • Banquet chefs can plate all of their par-cooked food cold. At service time they place the plates on a rack to be perfectly and quickly heated in about 8 minutes. This is an improvement over the other methods. I remember so many nights of having to hurriedly plate hot food and then wait for it to sit in big steam boxes in the banquet hall. It never tasted the same as "a la minute" cooking and the process was time consuming and labor intensive. Here are sample photos of what the new process looks like with the RSCC. The temperature probe is inserted into a ceramic socket on the plate rack.
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  • Plus the RSCC has a self-cleaning system using water and chemicals, just like a dishwasher. And the computer keeps track of everything you cook so that it can tell you when to clean and which cleaning setting to use!
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Check out the RSCC useage and performance video from Oktoberfest. It served a million people over a short amount of time:

One project I worked on that was really fun (and which can be translated to your regular oven at home) is to completely cook a pasta dish in the oven.

That's right, you can skip the stovetop.

With the RSCC,  it took me a few minutes to remember to press the "?" so that I could find the recipe and exact instructions on the process to do this. Did I mention that that oven actually has recipes and directions built in?

Pasta In The Oven

This healthful dish has lots of downtime, so you can go for a walk while it cooks.

Ingredients:

  • 16-ounce box of dry penne pasta
  • 26-ounce jar of pasta sauce
  • 26-ounce jar of water (use the pasta sauce jar to measure the water)

Directions:

  1. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit.
  2. In a large bowl, mix the 3 ingredients until well combined. Place the mixture into a rectangular baking dish.
  3. Cover the pan with foil and bake it for 60-65 minutes or until the pasta is tender. Serve immediately or chill for future use.

Chef's Tips:

  • This meal will make about 10 servings that are 2/3 of a cup each.
  • Shaved veggies, herbs, and chopped raw spinach can be folded into the dish when it's done. This method cuts the sodium per serving from regular pasta sauce in half.
  • View nutrition analysis here.

Here is a photo of mac and cheese made by mixing dry macaroni, water, and cheese, then cooking them together -- covered -- in the oven:

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DISCLAIMER: I do not make any money selling Rational Self Cooking Centers but I am a Rational Certified Chef Consultant who will assist with cooking demos and instruction in exchange for compensation. The purpose of this blog post is to let you know about this updated cooking technology and to share the recipe for a way to cook pasta in a home oven. I was very impressed with Rational as a company and with their dedication to cooking food perfectly in a variety of ways. I hope to pass along more cooking demo tips as I work with them, too.

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Here I am (left) pictured with April Shaw (right), Rational Sales Manager Chef in Florida. April and I worked together in the pastry shop at the Hyatt Scottsdale over 17 years ago and ran into each other in Chicago! At the Hyatt, I was the executive pastry chef and she was my assistant. We worked together over 2 years.

For More Information: Rational AG's Website

For Foodservice Recipes: Club Rational

Here are ready-to-go cooking demo materials from the Nutrition Education Store:

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