Pros: Does what it claims to do as a countertop, convection oven
Cons: Cleanup, durability, doesn’t have toaster oven functionality
I had to chuckle when I read the one-star reviews of this kitchen appliance. I have to say, it holds a slightly higher place in my heart, so I’m going to rate it proportionately higher.
I was toying with the idea of replacing my electric range with a model that had a convection oven. For those who don’t know, a convection oven uses a fan to circulate the air inside. Manufacturers claim that it cooks faster and more evenly than radiant heat alone. You can also lower the temperature, with possible benefits of electricity savings (lower temperature and shorter cooking times).
Before I plopped down the large sum of money for a new range, I thought I’d try this countertop version to see how I liked convection cooking. I will say that this Toastmaster Ultravection Oven’s sole functionality is as a countertop convection oven. No baking dishes are needed, as you simply place the food on the pullout, ‘nonstick’ basket (we’ll get to the ‘nonstick’ later).
I have found the oven to be quite handy, and it would be good for a household of one or two people. It has three modes: 'Turbo', 'Brown' and 'Crisp'. The different modes regulate the fan speed and cycling of the elements. 'Turbo' does the bulk of the cooking at the highest fan speed, while ‘Crisp’ and ‘Brown’ lower the fan speed to do exactly what is described. Some foods use just one of the settings, while others use two or more. You can program it to cook in successive stages.
The instruction manual includes baking times and settings for a variety of popular commercial foods, such as Ore Ida Golden Crinkles, Tatino’s Pizza Rolls, Mrs. Paul’s Select Cuts Fish Sticks, Pillsbury Toaster Strudel and Banquet Chicken nuggets, to name just a few. It provides times for cooking fresh foods, too, such as T-bone steaks, hamburgers, pork loin chops, salmon fillets/steaks, and sausage/hot dogs. There is also a ‘Pizza’ button for making a frozen pizza of the 11 to 12 ounce size.
The oven is quick to preheat, and I have made numerous items successfully. For example, salmon steaks (cross section of the fish) come out in about twenty minutes and are juicy, tender and delicious. Pork loins take about 35 to 45 minutes; the outside is nice and brown, and the inside is tender. I have also had luck with bratwursts, potatoes wedges and fries, and refrigerator biscuits.
All drippings are caught by a removable tray, and, with fatty foods, there tend to be a lot. I put both the basket and drip tray into the dishwasher.
I have found that the most annoying thing about the oven is that it is difficult to clean with food that spatters. The basket and interior are both ‘nonstick’, but I routinely have to scrub both after making meats and fish. The interior is particularly difficult, as you have to reach inside to scrub it and then wipe it out. I can never get it fully clean, and the next time I use it, the smoke detector is set off from the smoking of remaining oil. So much for nonstick.
The timer only goes up to sixteen minutes per stage. If you want to cook something that is going to take longer, you have to manually reset it. The instructions never give you anything more than sixteen minutes for the ‘Turbo’ setting. The ‘Crisp’ and ‘Brown’ are used after the cooking is done and are used to enhance the outside of the food; they take only a few minutes each.
Perhaps the oven is not designed to do the heavy work of a pork loin or other items taking a longer time. The first oven I had burned out within a year. I had purchased a second as a gift. I rethought the idea of giving it away and started using it myself. So far, I have had better luck with it.
The oven would have been much more versatile if it included toaster oven functionality. Most folks will most likely have another appliance for that function. That appliance will most likely be the winner of counter space, so storage of this item may be an issue.
If you have a desire to try one of these out, you may be able to pick up one cheap at a yard sale. Most folks will tire of having to store it and to clean up after it. It is definitely not one of the best-conceived kitchen appliances, but for those who can put up with its eccentricities, it may prove to be of some use.
So far, I have not had to purchase that convection range yet. I’ll give it three stars!