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How do broilers work?

  • t
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I have always believed that the broiler will turn off if the door is not kept open by 1 inch when the broiler is on. Is this true?

Right now I have a gas broiler but I have always had electric broilers before. (it's not possible to test the theory right now because I don't have access to my apartment for a few days.)

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  1. Nope, not even sort of true...you can leave the oven door closed and nothing bad will happen. My mom used to do that, leave the door ajar...I think maybe it had something to do with old ovens not having good vents or something. But I assure you that I successfully broil with the door firmly closed and no one has suffered yet. Of course 85 people will have a different opinion :-)

    Of course gas broilers are completely different...you know how you have to put the food in the bottom drawer under the flame, right? I don't think leaving that open would be a good idea because I would probably start the floor on fire...but maybe I am just unlucky that way. I once burned down part of my apartment building when I left my glasses on the sundeck...bad eyes, thick glass, hot sun...started the shrubs on fire and went from there...fire is NOT my friend.

    4 Replies
    1. re: Cyndy
      e
      Eldon Kreider

      I wonder how many of those old gas ovens with the broiler underneath the main oven are still around? Gas ranges with the broiler burner in the top of the oven and the main oven burner below the oven have been common for quite a few years. Our kitchen range built in 1976 has the dual burners but was a premium product. The broiler can be controlled by the thermostat, but that absolutely requires keeping the door closed.

      1. re: Eldon Kreider

        We have a nearly new gas stove and it has the broiler in the bottom. So did our last one.

        I think I saw Alton Brown mention it once. I just found this on google - instructions for an old electric-wood-coal combination range:

        "BROILING: Temperature controlled broiling is now possible...If you do not desire temperature controlled broiling, simply turn the oven control dial up to "BROIL". Make certain the CENTER TOGGLE SWITCH is flipped downward. The broil unit will remain on during the complete broiling period. Always leave oven door ajar or open during regular broiling."

        Evidently in these old stoves that was how you kept the broiler going constantly by not allowing the oven to reach a goal temperature. Makes sense. I did that for years to just because my mother did it. I'm sure electric ranges still have to have the door open to keep it going consistently.

        1. re: krissywats

          Mine doesn't...it's probably a mutant just waiting to light the cupboards on fire. And this concept of the gas oven broiler on top thing has me heading to Sears to have a look...

          Interesting how many things we do 'because my mother does it that way'...I have made a study of this in my own life, and it's quite shocking to me all the things I do that trace right back to her. And most of them are stupid. Which just makes it even worse.

          1. re: krissywats

            It is true in not so old stoves. Many newer ones will keep the element on with the door closed. My stove is under 10 years old(young for a stove) and to keep the broiler element glowing you must still keep the door open. Otherwise it will just heat the sotveot the desired temp and turn the element off until the thermostat tells it to cut back on.

            However, for my parents dacor I believe it will broil with the door closed.

      2. j
        jennyantepenultimate

        Recently, I wanted cook three large Hawaiian steaks all at once (no bbq grill) so I fired up the oven broiler. I ended up flipping them and the steaks cooked a little more than I would have liked them to. Are you supposed to just broil on one side? Does that leave the other side, in effect, raw?

        1 Reply
        1. re: jennyantepenultimate

          definitely broil both sides, but realize that the underside will cook, just more slowly. (you have to flip before the upper side is "perfect". depending on the thickness of the meat, your broiler, and how well you want it done, usually 3-5 minutes per side.