Saturday, August 1, 2009

Culinary Tips: The Wonderful Advantages of High Heat And How to Get It

Culinary Tips Part One
The Wonderful Advantages of High Heat
And How to Get It
(Without Breaking the Bank)

As any good cook or chef knows, the secret to good cooking is getting control of heat and for this post the topic will focus on high heat, what you can and cannot do with it and how to easily achieve high heat for attaining cooking nirvana.

Most kitchens come equipped with standard low and high heat electric and gas burners. You are lucky if you can get 15,000 btus from each burner. For everyday cooking this is more than enough but when you want to cook for 4 and you are doing some heavy duty stir frying, saute-ing or frying, those burners do not have enough oomph to get the job done in a reasonably short period of time. Whenever I've tried to fry chicken wings, or chicken parts, or even french fries, as soon as the food hits the hot oil, the temperature plunges to the point that the frying process slows down or even screeching to a halt because the fire is not hot enough to keep the oil at high temperatures (around 400 degrees) even though the cooking vessel contains a fair amount of food.

I have discovered a pretty economical solution to this problem but you are limitied to cooking outdoors. I actually see this as an advantage because you are not smelling or messing up the kitchen with oil splatter, fish odors or any other smoke that will emanate from the searing or frying food. You will risk the chance of neighbors smelling the food cooking outside and inviting themselves over for dinner.

The key to getting high heat is to purchase one MasterBuilt Dual Propane Burner Camping Stove. The folks at Masterbuilt (HQed in Alabama) have designed and built the ultimate high heat stove. This baby has 2 Propane Burners and the output for each burner is well over 30,000 btus. We're talking serious cooking firepower here for serious cooking. The heating output of each Masterbuilt burner is easily twice as much as your conventional gas stove. The stove has to be lit with a match and the burner controls are very easy to use and to adjust. There is an adjustable air flow control to adjust the amount of air going to the burner (You want the fire to be as blue as possible for the highest heat). A wind shield blocks wind from the main burners.

I have been putting the Masterbuilt Propane Camping Stove through its paces and so far it has far exceeded my expectations and has significantly reduced my cooking time and vastly improved the quality of my cooking.

I asked the butcher at a local supermarket to cut a pound of pork loin into 1/4 inch thin cutlets. I bathed the cutlets in egg wash, dipped them in flour, egg wash again and a liberal coat of Progresso Italian Bread Crumbs.

Heated 3 inches of canola oil to 400 degrees in a 4 quart deep saute pan. It took all of 3 minutes to get the oil to 400 degrees. Fried 4 cutlets at a time for an average of a minute per side was all that was needed to get the cutlet to Golden Brown and an interior temperature of 170 degrees.....PERFECTO.

I was able to achieve similarly fast results with chicken wings, chicken cutlets, french fries, sauteed flank steak with perfect results every time. Super fast. Fried foods are nice and crisp and moist and tender on the inside.

Cooking is ultra fast as the heat is maintained no matter how much food you throw at it.

And finally take that........Alton Brown. Actually, thanks to Alton Brown for the inspiration to experiment with all things related to cooking.

The Masterbuilt Dual Burner Propane Camping Stove sells for around $150.00 from Masterbuilt Resellers.

Check it out at:

Amazon also carries this product. Shipping is not bad and takes about 7-10 days for UPS Ground.