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  • Henry May 5, 2006 01:17 AM
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At this altitude, water boils at approximately 201 degrees. I am making green chili, and after a lot of prep, the chili is supposed to simmer (i.e., just below boiling, I presume) for a few hours. So I thought, why not put it in the oven at 200 degrees. At 200 degrees, it didn't look like it was simmering, so I upped it to 225, and then 250, and it smells like it's cooking but it doesn't look like it's simmering (no bubbles at all). What gives? Does simmering have to be done with direct heat, or can you get the same result in the oven? If so, same temperature?

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  1. With indirect heat, like an oven, it takes longer for something to get warm/hot. Especially at lower temperatures. To simmer in the oven, I'd double your required temperature for simmering, wait until the item comes to a simmer, then reduce the temperature as necessary. At 250, especially at high altitude, it's going to take forever to get hot enough to simmer.

    Think about it -- people roast meats in ovens heated to 300-400, and yet the meat is done when it's in the 140 degree range. To "simmer" something in the oven, I think you'd need a much higher heat than 200-250. My braised short rib recipe, for instance, calls for cooking them at 475 degrees for 20 minutes, then reducing the heat to 350 degrees, and to start checking for doneness after 1-1/2 hours.

    Oven cooking is very different than stovetop. Up the heat, and see what happens.

    4 Replies
    1. re: DanaB

      Thanks Dana, Mark and Deborah. I understand all of what you say, but I still have one follow up question. Isn't heat the same from any source? That is, assume the following: simmer is just below boilng = 200 degrees; oven is preheated; pot of chili or soup or whatever is brought to a boil immediately before putting in oven for several hours; oven is kept closed. With those assumptions, would you still set the oven higher than 200 degrees (say, the 250 degrees 2 of you mentioned), and if so why?

      1. re: Henry

        I just got this from the same query I posted on another list. Someone mentioned the following: "As the water has 'stuff' dissolved in it, the boiling point increases. . . ." I guess that would explain the need to set the temp higher than the boiling point of water. Right?

        1. re: Henry

          Yes, stuff that is dissolved into water (especially in the case of salt), will increase the boiling point of the water. As for the oven temperature thing, yes, as long as the temperature inside the oven remains relatively constant, the pot of simmering stuff shouldn't, in theory go above that temperature. Of course, you have to be careful about how close your pot is to the element (clearly the element is hotter than the surrounding air) and the amount of temperature fluctuation that occurs in your oven (you may think you set it to 200, but the temperature in your oven may oscillate between 175 and 225, for example).

          1. re: Curtis

            Thanks. Got it. The fluctuation in temp for "simmering" chili for 3 or 4 hours should make no difference. I take it there is no worthwhile accurate way to determine the boiling point, and therefore the "correct" temperature at which to set the oven. Sounds like the consensus is a guesstimate; 250 degrees should be about right (i.e., close enough).

    2. bring it to a simmer on the stovetop, then transfer to a preheated oven. minimize opening the door as the oven cools off quickly at such low temps.

      1. 250 degree oven is perfect for simmering. Bring your chili to almost a boil and then put it in the preheated 250 degrees oven.