Kitchen giants Miele asked whether I’d do a steam oven review; I also attended a Miele steam oven demonstration during which we saw four family recipes cooked in steam ovens. Even though they’ve been around since the seventies, I didn’t know anything about steam ovens and was not sure what to do with with it.
Miele steam oven demonstration
Fortunately, the Miele had also invited me to a mummy foodie bloggers’ steam oven cookery demonstration at their London showroom featuring celebrity chef and writer Silvana Franco. The evening showed us how to create easy family meals using the steam oven. You may remember this was same place that hosted the food bloggers’ Masterchef challenge back in July. Silvana and Miele Home Economist Elspeth Smith showed us how to make four family friendly recipes in a little over half an hour. Miele make several versions of this steam oven, above is the countertop version which is the same as the one I am currently using. They also make a built in model featuring a combination conventional and steam oven. Elspeth explained that this model could be used either as purely steam, normal convection oven or in combination – which apparently is crispy moist roast chicken nirvana.
Countertop steam oven
The countertop steam oven looks similar to a very large microwave. The inside is not that much bigger as it also contains a kettle like vessel for water from which the steam comes out. The worktop version plugs in just like a microwave. You need to allow several minutes for the water to heat up before the timer starts. Some steam escapes the first time you use it as the appliance sets itself according to your altitude but on subsequent occasions it just makes noises similar to a boiling kettle. Steam ovens can be used to defrost, cook or reheat food.
Steam oven recipes
Created before us were chicken cous cous with fresh pesto, butternut squash risotto, salmon leek and mascarpone parcels and vanilla poached pears. The last two recipes were cooked in the steam oven together to demonstrate that the fish would not taint the flavour of the fruit. All four dishes were suitable for the whole family, from baby weaning to grandparents. Afterwards we were treated to dinner with the Miele team; smoked salmon with hollandaise sauce and quail’s egg, the alternative vegetarian starter I do not know the name of and chicken supreme wrapped in parma ham on mashed potato topped with crispy shredded leek. And a show stopping chocolate cake for dessert.
Steam oven review
Back home it was time to recreate one of the dishes in the borrowed steam oven. Miele had given us goodie bags containing all the ingredients needed for the butternut squash risotto and I made it for several family members coming to dinner that weekend. Making risotto for six would normally be a terrifying prospect but once the squash was chopped up, this dish did it’s stuff in the steam oven whilst I sat with my guests. It wasn’t any quicker than making it on the hob, in fact at nearly 50 minutes including warm up time it was definitely longer but the beauty was that I had a perfect risotto without any stirring required. Heaven. Had I had the larger cooking dish seen at the demonstration (above bottom left), I think you could easily make risotto for 10 people in this way. This appliance would come into its own at Christmas or when catering for large groups. The recipe manual is thin on sweet things but it would be very useful for steamed puddings and cooking large quantities of fruit.
Pros and cons using a steam oven
Pros of steam oven
The Miele steam oven cooks food such as rice, cous cous, vegetables and fish beautifully. Marvellous for risotto. Allows you to cook family size portions with ease. Relatively little washing up. Leaves your normal oven and hobs free for other things. Cooks food in a healthy low fat way without destroying nutrients. More even heat distribution so none of the hot spots associated with microwaves. Can cook using metal dishes and cutlery. Can warm food up without drying it out.
Cons of steam oven
Wiping all the condensation out of it afterwards is a pain. Not worth the effort of using unless cooking large quantities. Not suitable for all foods – but neither is a microwave. Size – it takes up as much space as a big microwave and kettle put together. Needs to be descaled regularly. Cost – £750 upwards for Miele models although some brands start from around £600
Steam oven review verdict:
Speaking as someone who has only owned 2 cookers both worth less than £300, the price of a steam oven initially made me sweat – especially when I can’t quite shed the notion that it’s a glorified kettle living in a box. Still, if we thought like that about conventional ovens, we’d still be rubbing sticks together in the woods. Although I found some aspects of the steam oven inconvenient; the warm up time, the wringing out of cloths dripping with condensation afterwards, it is very appealing to be able to produce large quantities of food that tastes better with minimum effort. If I were planning a kitchen from scratch, a steam oven would give an extra method of cooking which has many advantages.
- 1 tbsp olive oil
- 1 large onion, peeled and chopped
- 2 garlic cloves, chopped
- 1 butternut squash, peeled, seeded and diced
- 400g risotto rice – we were given carnaroli
- 1600ml low salt vegetable stock
- 2 tbsp sun dried tomato paste
- knob of butter
- bunch of roughly chopped flat leaf parsley
- 150g freshly grated parmesan (I like my risotto very cheesy)
- Stir the sun dried tomato paste into the hot stock.
- Put the rice, chopped onion and garlic into a large steam oven tray and pour over the hot stock. Cover with cling film.
- Steam at 100c for 30-40 minutes until all the water has been absorbed into the rice.
- Meanwhile place the squash in a steam oven tray, cover with cling film. When the rice has had about 10 mins, also add the squash tray to the steam oven.
- When the rice has absorbed the liquid, remove the trays and combine the squash into the rice, stir in the butter, cheese and parsley then serve.
How interesting, Sarah! I’ve never used a steam oven, or knew how one worked until today. Thanks! 🙂
Heavenly Housewife says
What a fun opportunity. I’ve never used a steam oven before. I doubt i’d invest in one, but its cool learning about it. Love all those beautiful goodies you made.
Have a wonderful weekend ahead.
Great post Sarah – your risotto was clearly a triumph. Steam ovens are the way forward on that front!
Cool pics from the Miele evening too… that cake was unreal!
What a great post Sarah, and an enviable opportunity. I think the counter top ones will be very popular here. I love the risotto and i love all your pictures! Fabulous!!
Gourmet Chick says
I always wondered about these. I know one blogger who borrowed one as you did and loved it so much she decided to buy it – so some people are converted!
Helen @ Fuss Free Flavours says
I am ashamed that I have not written about the one I was lent yet.
If I had the money and the room I would have one, I would even throw out the microwave to make room for it.
You must let me know if it’s any good at cooking bread, I’d like to get a really crispy crust on mine.
That cake looks amazing, but so does your risotto – I love butternut squash!
Sarah, Maison Cupcake says
Thanks everyone for your comments.
@gourmetchick I can see the appeal but I think I need some more lessons!
@helen You can get a whirlpool model that is a combi steam oven and microwave
@nic I’ve not tried bread but to be honest you would need the steam combi oven to crisp things up. And I doubt that steam would be appropriate for crustry bread in anycase, it’s more suited to something like bread and butter pudding where you want a golden top but moisture underneath.
Sarah that blogger would be me! And I’m so glad I kept it – I use it regularly for slow cooking, for decadent puddings both sweet – sticky ginger and apple duff, and savoury – leek and smoked bacon is a particular favourite. I have yet to make risotto but it reheats rice perfectly, not a single hard grain results. I’ve discovered I use it for much more than I was expecting – lots of lovely asian dishes, lots of trad brit, and interesting things like slow cooked eggs that just won me best egg competition… http://jamesramsden.wordpress.com/2010/10/11/the-eggs-factor/
My only negative is the steam cloud when you open the door. I wear glasses!
I have posted quite a few things – http://www.blogger.com/posts.g?blogID=21050809&searchType=ALL&txtKeywords=&label=steamed that might give you some ideas.
Kitchen Butterfly says
Oh Sarah, I LOVE Silvana Franco – love her! I used to watch her all the time on BBC Food when I was back in Nigeria. Oh wow – you’re up there with the best 🙂
I Love The Idea or retaining the nutrients of my food and not losing the moisture. I would Love one of these for those reasons. I have hard water where I live and would worry about scaling clogging the steam jets. It really does sound like something I would use. Hopefully they will improve a little on the messy clean-up…I would Love a Built In, but would have to start with a counter top model. They would need to make it a bit smaller for my kitchen, I have a cottahe kitchen.
would you substitute a microvawe for a steam oven.
can you use china/glass/cups/corelle dishes?
Have recently had new kitchen, including steam oven. How did I manage before? I chuck allsorts in (I am a fairly fussy eater) and it comes out cooked and tasty. Forget aesthetic, healthy etc: convenience rules.
As for the clean-up regime – quick wipe with cloth and bingo – quicker than wiping cooker top after pans boiling over!
A Miele Steam Oven is one appliance I would NEVER be without. I had to leave one in my last house and I am about to buy one for my new kitchen. The cost is high, but the benefits far out-weight the cost as far as I am concerned. If you only used it for vegetables I guarantee they never ever never taste so good cooked in a saucepan!
i want to buy the countertop steam oven here in the US. but no luck to find one. all here are build-in
In process of revamping my kitchen and came across steam ovens & combi’s. I normally use a pressure pan for veg and also have a steamer along with a conventional gas oven & a microwave, so I am used to steaming my food. The gas oven is a pain to keep clean. If the steam oven meant I could put my pressure pan and steamer away, that would be great, saving on washing up and leaving more room on my worktops.
Question is would I need a double oven or would a combi work just as well? I feel I would still need a grill or do I?
On a learning curve here. Await the comments.
Sarah, Maison Cupcake says
Well a grill is a completely different function to a steam oven. A steam oven is likely to require as much attention cleaning up afterwards as normal oven although if you do it straight away you won’t have problem of stuff being dried onto surfaces. I found with this model I had a lot of condensation to mop up although I understand some built in models have an outlet to drain this away.
Thanks for your article on steam ovens. I have been cooking with a steam oven for about 8 years since we bought a place with one installed. As a new user I was determined to learn how to make the best of it. Fabulous when cooking for crowds by adding additional capacity in a busy kitchen. Love the: individual sticky date puddings; vegetables; fruits; steamed fish or chicken; and risotto particularly. I have tried just about every type of food in the steamer and unless you want a crispy finish most foods do brilliantly. Strongly recommended, but only if you are prepared for a whole new way of thinking about cooking. It is not faster, there is the wiping out of the oven afterwards, but there is very little need for touching the food whilst cooking and it tastes fabulous and can feed a crowd!
Daniel Boiani (@TheRooshman) says
We’ve had our steam oven for about 18 months now. I never thought we would get any use out of it. Boy was I wrong. It is an incredibly quick and healthy way to cook. Vegetables, rice, corn, fish fillets, even hot dogs and warming buns and rolls. With all due respect, cleaning is NOT a pain at all. There is no grease or splatter, only moisture on stainless steel. Wipe it down and it’s clean as a whistle. Plus, the darn thing gives you a count down as to when it needs descaling, which only takes 15 minutes. Warming up is quick … about as long as it takes an electric kettle to boil. Get one, and use it. You’ll be glad you did.