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When I cook my meat, I usually bake or broil it, I basically use the oven.

I like using the oven to make the side dish while baking the meat. Usually the side dish consists of a combination of sweet potatoes / yams, broccoli and onions.

I slice the potatoes and make sure the broccoli pieces and onions are large enough so they will not overcook / burn.

However, usually this combination ends up being really dry, and everything sticks to the aluminum foil.

Now, I don't really like throwing oil on everything, I want my meals to be healthy, and covering everything with alot of oil is not appealing to me.

Do you know of any alternatives to prevent the dryness?

I might just have to revert to boiling the potatoes and broccoli, although I have never heard of boiling onions.

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4 Answers 4

up vote 6 down vote accepted

To prevent the sticking, you might want to use a spray oil, maybe even just on the foil before you put the vegetables and potatoes on. It's a tiny amount of oil, not enough to make things noticeably greasy, but will be pretty effective. Another spray over the top will make them brown a little more nicely and may even prevent a little drying out. Alternatively, you can just toss them all in a bowl with a small amount of oil; it really doesn't take much, and I'd hardly describe it as "covering with a lot of oil."

As for preventing things from drying out, first and foremost, don't overcook them. Broccoli and onions both roast very nicely, but you definitely want to pull it out before it starts browning/burning too much. If you slice the potatoes thinly enough, they'll cook in roughly the same amount of time as the broccoli and onions. So if things are getting overcooked, just don't leave them in the oven as long.

You can also always try covering them. Another sheet of foil over the top will trap a fair amount of moisture, letting them steam a bit and probably preventing some burning as well.

(I suppose it's also possible that it's all drying out because you're cooking them too slowly, so they have plenty of time for moisture to escape, but that seems less likely given the way you described things.)

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What I wanted to say was partly said, but I wanted to generalize a bit, and add a detail or two, so a new answer :)

You have two options with vegetables in the oven: roasting them or stewing them.

If you want them roasted, then you are on the right way. Jefromi explained the details, but to summarize: brush or spray very little oil against sticking, or roast on a grate or shashlik instead of a tin. To prevent drying out, leave them in for a shorter time (ideally, put them in later, so you will have warm meat and sides at the same time).

The easier option, provided you are all right with the end result, is to stew them instead of roasting them. SAJ14SAJ's answer is a variation of that. Instead of pouches, you can also use an earthenware baking pot, or small individual pots, or ramekins. If you don't have earthenware pots with lids, you can cover with foil, or, in an individual pot, break a whole egg on the vegetables in the middle of the baking time.

гювече

Pouches and earthenware are the most common ways of stewing in an oven, but in a pinch, any pot which allows them to sit in their own juices will do.

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If you are committed to only using the oven, you might wish to use the technique the French call en papillote, which means in paper. In the classic technique, the food is securely folded in parchment, so that it steams in its own juices as it cooks:

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In more modern practice, you would make the pouch with aluminum foil, instead of parchment, although of course parchment still works, and looks better for presentation if you are having guests.

This works well with vegetables, chicken, and fish, assuming that all of the food pieces are cut into sizes that will cook through in approximately the same time.

You can include a squirt of lemon or lime juice (or even slices of the citrus), or some herbs or spices in the pouch for additional flavor, along with the principal ingredients.

Googling baked in parchment recipe may give you some ideas for getting started.

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I think getting a different pan for roasting will make a big difference for you. For roasting potatoes or brussel sprouts or a lot of other things I recommend getting a heavy cast iron skillet or a stoneware pan or pizza stone. For cast iron, get a big one like a 12"+ to fit enough. For stoneware, I roast vegetables on a pizza stone. A company called the Pampered Chef also makes great stoneware baking pans, with a lip around it so stuff won't slide off. Cast iron and stoneware are great because you don't need to add any oil - they are naturally non-stick. You don't use any soap to clean these, as they build up a seasoning layer, though you may want to re-season cast iron one in a while by adding a thin layer of oil with a paper towel. To clean, just scrape with a plastic scraper and/or use water and brush. They will do a better job than most pans or cookie sheets + aluminum foil as they provide great heat retention and even cooking. You will get a nice crispy crust on the outside, which will help to seal in some of the moisture you are losing.

Alternatively, you can bake in a pot with a lid, which will steam or braise the food and keep it moist. For this I would recommend using a dutch oven. Again cast iron or enamelware will be the best for you if you don't want to use oil, as they are both naturally non-stick.

These tools are a good investment if you don't own them already and will save you money on aluminum foil in the long run.

Really the only thing I'd use aluminum for is wrapped baked potatoes or beets where you want to seal in the moisture and juices. Sometime I use parchment paper on really sticky items (marinades) but it's rarely necessary.

I also recommend Mark Bittman's How to Cook Everything Vegetarian for great recipes for vegetable dishes - everything in there is simple and well-tested, with recipes for roasting or braising just about every vegetable you can find. You'll find all the correct times and temps in there.

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