infrared oven with food image by Shirley Hirst from Fotolia.com

Cooking on a stove top or in your oven may be the most traditional options for getting meals on the table, but there are quicker alternatives. Microwave ovens and electric pressure cookers are two popular alternatives, though they're not ideal for some foods. Another option is the countertop NuWave oven, which excels at exactly the things – roasting and searing, primarily – that microwaves and pressure cookers do poorly.

NuWave Oven Basics

The NuWave oven is partly a small convection oven, with hot air circulating around its compact dome, but that's only part of the secret to its unusually fast cooking. The other feature is its use of infrared energy, which browns and crisps foods more effectively than hot air alone. This is the same kind of radiant energy that your oven's broiler uses, though at a lower intensity.

The base of the unit stays cool to the touch, so you can use it as a serving tray for the foods you've cooked. A liner pan sits inside the base to catch the juices dripping from the food, and a wire cooking rack sits over the liner pan to keep the food out of the drippings. A dome enclosure sits over the top of the base, and the power head – which generates the heat and airflow – sits at the top. Once the oven is assembled, you'll use the handles at the side of the power head to lift the dome on and off.

General NuWave Oven Instructions

Any recipe written for the NuWave oven will provide you with specific cooking instructions, but there are a few things to know before you start: You don't need to preheat the NuWave, and the higher your food sits inside the oven, the faster it will cook. The cooking rack has both 1-inch and 3-inch heights, so you can raise smaller items closer to the heat source for faster cooking.

In general, if you're cooking multiple foods at once, the quickest-cooking items should go at the bottom of the oven, and the slowest-cooking items at the top where they'll get the heat at full intensity. For large items, such as big roasts or whole turkeys, some models come with a 3-inch extender ring you can stack between the base and the dome to create a larger cooking space as needed.

To cook, press the "cook time" button and use the number keys to enter the required time in hours and minutes. Then press "start." The NuWave will automatically start at 350 degrees Fahrenheit, unless you program a lower temperature. The oven will shut off at the end of the programmed time, though you can cancel the program at any time or add more time as needed.

NuWave Oven Cooking Chart

You'll find an extensive collection of recipes in the oven's user guide, the grandly named NuWave Oven Pro Manual and Complete Cookbook, as well as a handy cooking chart for quick reference. As a rule, the cooking times will be a lot shorter than you're used to with a conventional oven. For example, with the 3-inch extender ring you can cook a whole turkey of up to 16 pounds in just 10 to 12 minutes per pound. A beef roast takes 17 to 19 minutes per pound to reach medium-rare.

One feature of the NuWave oven is that its very fast cooking ability allows you to cook even large cuts from frozen, without thawing them first. The same turkey would require 14 to 16 minutes per pound, for instance, if you started it from frozen.

Tip

If you go searching on the internet for additional recipes or directions for cuts not listed on the NuWave cooking chart, try searching the words "new wave oven," as well as using the correct spelling, NuWave. Not everyone gets it right, so spelling it both ways may lead you to recipes you wouldn't find otherwise.

About the Author

Fred Decker

Fred Decker is a trained chef, former restaurateur and prolific freelance writer, with a special interest in all things related to food and nutrition. His work has appeared online on major sites including Livestrong.com, WorkingMother.com and the websites of the Houston Chronicle and San Francisco Chronicle; and offline in Canada's Foodservice & Hospitality magazine and his local daily newspaper. He was educated at Memorial University of Newfoundland and the Northern Alberta Institute of Technology.