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Dacor ER30DSCH review: Powerful, high-end oven needs lots of attention

You can barely see any difference between the behaviors of the two Dacor gas cooktops. Ashlee Clark Thompson/CNET

Dacor packed most of the ER30DSCH's impressive performance features in the oven. The broiler cooked six hamburger patties in an average of 13.67 minutes, the second-fastest time we've seen with an electric oven. I tracked the temperature of each patty during my broil tests, and the hamburgers beneath the front corners of the broiler cooked slightly faster than the others. This was significant because the broiler cooks so fast that those first patties to reach 145 degrees F were nearly burnt by the time the last patty had reached the proper temperature. But even when the hamburgers were slightly charred on the outside, the insides were always juicy. The ER30DSCH produced enough smoke to cast a haze in our test kitchen, so be prepared for your smoke detectors to go nuts if you broil in a normal kitchen.

Hamburger Broiling Test (Electric Models)

Samsung NE59J7850WS
12.32
Dacor ER30DSCH
13.67
Kenmore 41313
14.32
LG LRE3021ST
14.75
Samsung NE58H9970WS
14.9
Samsung NE59J7630SB
15.08
Maytag MET8720DS
15.58
GE JB650SFSS
16.25
GE PHS920SFSS
16.31
Frigidaire FPEF3077QF
16.75
Kenmore 95073
17.17

Note:

Time to achieve 145 degrees F, in minutes

When it comes to roasting chicken, Dacor has already set the bar high with its Renaissance 30-inch double-wall oven . The roast chickens from that unit have reached legendary status in the CNET Appliances office for its exceptional taste and texture. The Dacor ER30DSCH matched the myth. From the breast to the thighs, the meat was tender and juicy. A knife slid cleanly through the pieces. I only used salt, pepper and olive for seasoning, but the ER30DSCH brought out the natural flavor of the meat so well that it tasted like it came from a more complicated recipe than the one I use. It's not hyperbole to say that this chicken was perfect.

Dacor creates wonderful chicken thanks to its convection roast mode and temperature probe. Tyler Lizenby/CNET

I attribute the roast chicken to the Dacor's convection roasting mode, which uses heating elements on the top and bottom of the oven along with the convection fan to distribute the hot air evenly around the chicken. The included temperature probe, similar to what we've seen in models such as the Samsung NE58F9710WS , also helped create the perfect chicken. Once you insert the probe into the meat you are cooking, the digital display on the control panel will show the internal temperature of the meat.

The heating elements at the top and bottom of the oven and the convection fan in the back help this Dacor roast a delicious chicken. Tyler Lizenby/CNET

When the meat reaches the appropriate temperature (you can set that temperature yourself or rely on Dacor's preset 160 degrees F), the oven will automatically reduce its temperature to 150 degrees F to keep your food warm for as many as two hours. This is a helpful feature that will prevent the harried cook from burning a pot roast. When I roasted a chicken in the oven, I hooked up both the meat probe and our own computer-connected thermocouples. The temperature readings on both probes were nearly identical, with a variance of about 2 degrees. It was good to know that the probe is reliable. It only took an hour and seven minutes to roast the chicken -- most chickens took at least an hour and 20 minutes to reach 160 degrees.

Baking biscuits in the ER30DSCH was a tricky exercise. My usual biscuit tests involve baking two sheets of a dozen biscuits for nine minutes at 450 degrees F on convection mode. Manufacturers recommend a reduction of temperature and/or time when an oven has a convection fan because of its quicker cooking capabilities. Some ovens have a feature that will automatically convert temperatures when you use the convection mode. This Dacor, doesn't have the auto-conversion feature, so I lowered the baking temperature to 425 degrees F for my tests. The biscuits were browner than I'd like to see in my tests, especially on the top rack. The use and care guide for this range recommends that you experiment with your recipes to determine the best temperature and time to cook your food, so I conducted another round of tests, this time reducing the cook time to 8.6 minutes and the temperature by 25 degrees. The biscuits' appearance improved, but they were still darker than I would like.

The top left and top right pictures show biscuits baked on the top and bottom (respectively) of the Dacor ER30DSCH when I reduced the temperature on Pure Convection mode. The bottom two pictures show what happened when I reduced the temperature and time in Pure Convection mode. Tyler Lizenby/CNET

Why did my biscuits turn out so brown? I used Dacor's Pure Convection mode for my tests, which the manual recommends for multiple rack baking. In this mode, the oven uses the heat element that surrounds the convection fan rather than the elements in the top and bottom of the oven. This heats the air as it begins to circulate around the oven that cooks food fast. Essentially, this oven acts like a sports car. It can perform quickly, but it can be too much machine for an amateur. A home cook needs to be willing to burn a few biscuits to find the appropriate settings that will let them harness the Pure Convection technology. I didn't find the perfect time and temperature at which to bake biscuits in the Pure Convection mode, but I'm confident that the ideal settings do exist.

Final thoughts

I had been anxious to get my hands on a dual-fuel range since I started reviewing appliances at CNET. These ranges give home cooks the precision of a gas cooktop's open flame with the evenness we often see with electric ovens. For the most part, the Dacor Renaissance ER30DSCH 30-inch Dual-Fuel range met my expectations. The oven roasts, broils and bakes quickly, which make up for the slightly below-average cooktop. The chicken alone makes it worth setting up a savings plan to pay $6,320 for this range. The convection features in the oven require your full attention and patience to get the most out of its capabilities, so this is a range that will please the passionate home cook who savors experimenting with recipes.

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