If you’re like me, space is a precious commodity in your kitchen, and you squeeze an appliance or tool into every nook and cranny. Even if you don’t live in a two-bedroom college apartment with a minuscule kitchen, sheet pans, in particular, are hard to store due to their size and shape which are not conducive to cabinetry. However, you might have spied a curious drawer under your oven, seemingly perfectly sized to store sheet pans and other similar oven tools. While storing pans there is a perfectly valid option, you might be amazed to know that those drawers serve another purpose.
That is the site of your oven’s broiler, or at the very least, its food warming station. Broiling is a technique where a source of high heat is concentrated at the top of the food, unlike baking which surrounds the food with hot air or cooking on the stove which heats food from the bottom up. Broiling is especially good for things like browning the top of casseroles, toasting bread and cooking things that don’t need a lot of time like fish or steak. However, achieving this fairly easy technique does require some knowledge of how your oven functions and where you need to place food in order to broil it.
Gas ovens tend to have their source of flame at the bottom of the oven, while electric ovens have heating coils at both the bottom and the top. An easy way to tell if your oven is electric or gas is to turn it on, and see where it is glowing. If your oven has metal coils on either the top or bottom that heat up and glow, then it is an electric oven. If when turned on, your oven starts to glow from the bottom with heat coming up from slits on the floor, it’s a gas oven.
In electric ovens, the broiler can either be found at the bottom or the top, depending on where your oven has those coils. If at the top, any foods that you want to broil you simply place them on the top rack at the highest possible position for your oven, and turn on your oven to the “broil” setting. Drawers underneath top-broiling electric ovens are usually created to serve as food warmers, where you turn on your oven to a low setting and place pans of food to keep them warm for situations like parties and holiday gatherings.
In gas ovens and bottom-broiling electric ovens, the drawer then serves as the broiler drawer. In order to use it, you simply set your oven to “broil,” let the oven heat up and put the food in the drawer so that the top of it is close to the source of heat. It’s simple and easy! I used it to cook a bone-in, New York strip steak and paired it with a simple caprese salad, which took me less than 30 minutes, including prep. The possibilities are endless, and you can still employ it as pan storage when not in use! I recommend that you take out any pans you have in the drawer prior to heating your oven to prevent burns, as I learned the hard way.