I hope that everyone had a wonderful Christmas! I know that I sure did. Some of the best parts of Christmas for me are getting together with the family and, of course, the food. The latter is more difficult to enjoy, however, when the oven decides to go out a few days before Christmas. I never realized how much my family relies on the oven to make Christmas dinner happen. You want dressing with the turkey? Sorry, that requires an oven. How about green bean casserole? Nope, that needs an oven too. Christmas cookies? No can do. What can you do when the oven goes out just a few days before Christmas? Sure, you could have it at another family member’s house, but that sometimes isn’t possible. You could even ask others to bring dishes to your house, but sometimes food doesn’t travel very well. We were fortunate enough to be able to move Christmas dinner to my grandparent’s house. This got me thinking about what we could have done if, say, the oven had died a day before Christmas or even on Christmas day when a switch of houses may not have been an option.
Lets start with the most important part of the meal. The turkey. My family always has an oven roasted turkey for Christmas and without an oven working, roasting a turkey becomes impossible. Some ovenless alternatives to cooking the turkey are smoking the turkey in a smoker or even slicing the uncooked turkey so that it may be grilled or even pan fried.
While we’re talking about grilling, the grill could also be used to heat up rolls and the vegetables. We like to make roasted vegetables such as carrots, potatoes, and Brussels sprouts. Instead of roasting them, since there is no oven, foil packs could be made by cubing the vegetables, spraying foil sheets with cooking spray, seasoning the vegetables as desired, wrapping the vegetable cubes in the foil, and placing them on the grill to cook. (These vegetable foil packs are great any time of the year.)
For me personally, green bean casserole is a must have at Christmas and the making of green bean casserole requires an oven. I was thinking that using a crockpot to cook the green bean casserole in would be a reasonable alternative to using an oven. You would have to sacrifice the crispiness of the French fried onions on top for this alternative cooking method, but a less crispy French fried onion topped green bean casserole is better than no green bean casserole at all.
For a lot of people, it’s just not Christmas without the dressing. This one would be a difficult one to make without an oven, but it wouldn’t be impossible. You could make it in a Dutch oven, crockpot, or you could even just make stove top stuffing instead of dressing. In my opinion, I think that the dressing would be the best made in the Dutch oven because you would still be able to get the nice browned crisp edges, and the top would be able to brown nicely as well.
Desserts are a must at Christmas time. Most of the desserts at Christmas time are baked goods such as cookies, pies, spice cakes, cheesecakes, and Yule logs. Most of these items can be made without an oven. There are no bake cookies (we call them chocolate oatmeal cookies), no bake cheesecakes, and there are several different types of no bake pies such as millionaire pie (my brother’s favorite).
Needless to say, none of these alternatives could ever replace the original methods of cooking, but you may find that you like them better. It’s interesting to experiment with different methods of cooking your favorite foods. Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn’t, but that’s what makes it fun. Who knows, you may discover an easier, tastier way to cook one of your favorite dishes. My dad loves to makes bread. Since our oven has been out, he has been having bread making withdrawals and decided to make some sourdough bread in the Dutch oven. It took longer to make than it would have in the oven only because it was about 37 degrees outside and it took a long time for the Dutch oven to heat up. I personally think that the bread turned out better being cooked in the Dutch oven than in the oven because it was more crisp and it had more flavor.
I hope this post inspires you to experiment with different cooking methods with some of your recipes!