Dinner. Or not.

On Thursday I put a chicken and rice dish in the oven at 4:15 at 325˚, then returned to my office for the second half of a four-hour virtual classroom training session on gift tax and generation-skipping transfer tax issues. (Don't you wish you were me?)

I noticed a burning smell but remembered how dirty the oven is and thought about how maybe a french fry or two had fallen off the cookie sheet to the bottom of the oven when we were reheating them earlier this week.

The smell worsened.

At 6:20 when the class was over I went to check on dinner. The recipe calls for it to cook for 2-1/2 hours covered, then uncovered for another half hour.

The house was full of smoke, and more was streaming out around the oven door.

I opened the oven and flames burst out.

I closed the oven.

Opened the oven again.

More flames.

I turned off the oven and opened a couple windows, hoping that the strong winds that had been blowing earlier would air out the house. No wind now that I needed it, of course, but the open windows did help some. 

I found a squirt bottle in the laundry room, emptied it of its non-H2O contents, and filled it with water.

This time when I opened the oven and the flames erupted I put them out with the squirt bottle.

All this time I was trying to figure out what had happened. My best guess was that when Smokey had taken a package of English muffins from the freezer as he had mentioned earlier, he had put them in the oven to defrost in a pet-proof space; somehow I had not noticed them when I put in the chicken.

Eventually I was able to remove the pan from the oven — it was very, very much lighter than when I had put it in — and see what remained of our dinner.

Chicken 1

The scorched top foil told me that the upper element, the one that comes on when the oven is preheating and was supposed to turn off when I turned the knob from preheat to cook, had stayed on for the entire two hours. (Yes, I did switch the knob from  preheat to cook — I checked.)

Chicken 2

That total charcoaling of the rice and liquids at the bottom of the pan told me that the lower element had stayed on for the entire two hours, too. Good grief.

So this stove, which was brand-new when this house was built in 1976 (see? harvest gold?), may be on its last — or very nearly its last — legs. I bought a new stove when we remodeled, but the remodeling has been stalled for several years and the stove sits in the garage, waiting its turn. Removing the old one and installing the new one — and the gas line it will require — is more than we necessarily wanted to tackle this week. Or this month. Or maybe this year.

Underneath that quarter-inch of pure charcoal was a bit of edible meat that Smokey was happy to try. He likes his chicken overcooked and dried out – although not necessarily this much.

Chicken 3

Needless to say, we went out for dinner. After all that smoke the only thing I could think of eating was barbecue. So I did.

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0 Responses to Dinner. Or not.

  1. Carole says:

    Wow! Thank goodness you were home! Now share the chicken and rice recipe, please.

  2. Angie says:

    That’s a good ending to a potentially tragic tale! Well, you’ve gotten some good use out of that appliance! Love barbecue.
    So, you do know where your fire extinguisher is, don’t you?

  3. Kym says:

    I think I’d re-name that dish. . . Pompeii Surprise!

  4. Cookie says:

    Thank goodness it was only the chicken that suffered! I’m with our Angie, btw. Where’s your fire extinguisher?!
    If it helps any, cooking with gas is the only way to go.

  5. Vicki says:

    Wow. You are lucky, lady!

  6. Oh, no! I’m so glad you didn’t have a serious fire. It may be time to tackle at least part of the remodel. I can certainly relate. I always figured I would eventually remodel the kids’ bathroom, just not a week before Thanksgiving following an indoor rainstorm and a decontamination worthy of a nuclear meltdown.

  7. bullwinkle says:

    wow. Seriously lucky. Glad you are lucky.
    Otoh, this year is rapidly coming to an end and next year approacheth. Of course, there’s a few major cooking events between now and then 😉

  8. Linda says:

    Wow! How lucky you were home. Sorry to hear about your oven and the mess is caused. Glad everything turned out safely. What a way to go out for dinner! I’ve heard of “blackened chicken”, but that’s a little over the top! Here’s hoping you get your new stove hooked up real soon — or not? More dinners out — that always makes me happy! Have a great weekend, despite it all.

  9. gayle says:

    Well, at least you won’t have the sudden expense of buying a new stove. (Never have enjoyed emergency appliance purchases.)
    You’re gonna love cooking with gas! (Though it doesn’t guarantee non-burnt dinners…)

  10. Soxanne says:

    BBQ – yum!
    We all have stories of cooking disasters, don’t we? I had someone show up for dinner once – wen she walkers in the door I said, “Don’t bother taking off your coat, we’re going out.”
    Oh, and my mother used to car pool with a guy who found a pan similar to yours in the yard, outside the kitchen door, when the snow melted…they must’ve ordered pizza that night!

  11. Erika says:

    Baking soda is usually a safer bet than water in a cooking fire. I mean, for the next time you decide to incinerate a chicken.

  12. Big Alice says:

    Yikes. That gives new meaning to “well done” chicken.
    I’m sorry about the stove & the chicken but glad that your house was ok.

  13. Carrie#K says:

    Odd. Usually when the smoke alarm comes on, it’s done.

  14. Chantelle says:

    Wow! So do you plan to do some test runs to see if it was an unlucky fluke first?

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