When our microwave cooker went wrong my Other Half's dad gave us his one and bought himself a new one. This is the one he gave us. It is made by Panasonic and its a convection oven as well as microwave. I have never had one of these combination ovens before so I was learning from the beginning as to what it did and how to do it.
The oven has a silver coloured metallic outer shell which looks like something you would get in a restaurant. The door has the glass in it like most microwave ovens and the buttons to control the oven are down the right hand side. The oven comes with a metal high rack, a metal tray, a low rack, a panacrunch tray and a handle to go on the latter. The outside is very easy to clean, we just wipe it down with a cloth and use a bit of kitchen spray on it and it stays nice. It still looks the same as when we bought it.
The oven can get very hot during cooking especially if you are using the convection cooking side of it so you must make sure you do not touch the outside while cooking. There is a sticker on the front warning you of this.
The oven does all sorts of different things, one of them is auto weight defrost, this means if you have a chicken or something and you want to defrost it you can enter the weight of the joint or chicken or whatever and it will work out for you how long it should take to defrost. I find this handy also for defrosting things like chops or something as long as you know the weight. If you don't know the weight you can just defrost on manual timing and keep checking. If I am defrosting something like chicken breast then I usually put them on for 20 minutes and they are just about ready, I finish them off in a bowl of cold water. It defrosts a slice or two of bread nicely if I wrap it up in a paper towel.
When microwave cooking there are 6 different settings you can choose. The highest is 1000w which is really high for a microwave. This means if you want to use this you will probable have to adjust the time if you are going by the times on a packet of something. The other settings are Defrost - 270 W, Medium - 600 W, Low - 440 W, Simmer - 250 W and Warm - 100 W. You can set the time for any of the settings to 99 minutes and 90 seconds except for the High setting which will only let you set it for 30 minutes at a time.
I find it really easy to use the microwave part of the oven once I got used to it being more powerful than a normal microwave oven.
The oven had a quartz grill which cooks really nicely for things like chops, sausages or oven chips. You need to remember to use some oven gloves when using the grill as it would get hot the same as if you are using the grill on your cooker. You need to remember to set the buttons properly too or otherwise the oven will start working as the microwave on high which is not a good thing to do. You need to put the metal tray in the bottom on top of the normal glass plate and then put the high rack on top of that and turn the food while cooking like you would on a normal grill. The times are about the same but you need to shut the door while cooking and this helps to keep in the moisture so I find that it cooks the food better in the middle than on a conventional grill and the outside doesn't burn so much.
When using this you need to preheat the oven like you would in a normal oven. You need to use the metal tray on top of the glass plate and then put the low rack on top of this. You then place the food on top of the rack. You can take the glass plate out if you want to use a rectangular roasting tin instead but you need to take the roller out as well and then put it on the bottom. I like using this way to cook things like a meat joint especially if I need all the shelves in my gas oven for other things. It cooks like a normal electric oven.
This is when you use both the grill and the convection oven at the same time. It cooks the food quicker and will give it a more crispy finish so it is really good for doing things like southern fried chicken portions or similar. Where as it would take 30 - 35 minutes to normally cook them, using the turbo-baking would only take 20 minutes.
There are three ways of combination cooking. The first is if you want to use the convection oven and the microwave oven together. This is a really good way of cooking once you get used to it as it uses both systems at the same time so the microwave will cook the food through quickly and the convection oven with be browning the out side. It is good for cooking things like joints or even pies as it will cook the pastry like a normal oven. You need to use the panacrunch tray when cooking the pastry. Its also good fro cooking things like garlic bread straight from the freezer or frozen lasagne.
The second way is if you use the grill and microwave. This is good for doing chops or oven chips and browns the food off as well as cooking them quickly.
The third way is turbo-bake and microwave which is good for things like baked potatoes or frozen fish or even pizza.
Auto Weight Cooking
There is another programme which is auto weight and cook. This is used for any number of items, like curry, pasta, chinese food, or fresh veg or fish. You just put in the weight of the food and select the button for the food you are cooking and it will work out how long to cook it for.
Cleaning the inside
The oven is easy to clean inside, the back has a catalyctic cleaner so you don't need to clean that bit which is a godsend as it is awkward for me to reach in that far with my dodgy arms. The rest of the inside comes up nice and clean with just a sponge and some kitchen spray. The glass plate comes out for cleaning. The rack and trays would need to be washed up as normal baking or roasting items and you will need to do this after every use to keep them clean.
The book that comes with the oven is really good, it tells you exactly how to use everything on the oven and all the bits that come with it and gives photos so you can check what you are doing is correct. It has so many charts in side with cooking times and defrosting times etc that you will be able to find out how to set the oven for cooking just about anything. There is also a set of recipes at the back of the book so you can start trying out your cooking skills straight away.
I must say I was a bit daunted when I first got this oven and looked at the manual but after trying out different things and getting used to it I would now hate to be without it. I would really recommend one of these cookers. They would be brilliant if you don't have a normal cooker as they do everything an normal cooker does plus the microwave side of things. I do not know how much it cost to buy new as it was given to us.
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Short name: Panasonic NN-CT756W