The range is still the most important piece of kitchen equipment in the kitchen, even though many of its functions have been taken by other tools, such as steamers, steam kettles, tilting skillets, and ovens.
BARBECUE OVENS OR SMOKE OVENS:
Barbecue ovens are like conventional ovens, but with one important difference: they are able to produce wood smoke, which surrounds the food and flavours it while it bakes or roasts. Special woods, such as hickory, mesquite, or various fruit woods such as apple or cherry, must be added to the smoke-producing part of the oven, according to the manufacturer’s instructions. This device is usually nothing more complicated than an electric heating element that heats small blocks or chips of the wood so that they are hot enough to smoke but not hot enough to burst into flame. Depending upon on the model, various cooking features are available. Thus, ovens may have smokeless roast/bake cycles, cold-smoke cycles (with the smoke element on but the oven off), holding cycles, and broiling capabilities.
In these ovens, special tubes generate microwave radiation, which creates heat inside the food. Microwave cooking is discussed in detail as a separate chapter.
BROILERS AND SALAMANDERS:
Broilers are sometimes called overhead broilers to avoid confusing them with grills. Overhead broilers generate heat from above; food items are placed on a grate beneath the heat source. Broiling is a favourite way of preparing steaks, chops, chicken, and many other items. Heavy-duty broilers produce very high heat and consume vast quantities of energy. Some broilers are said to go as high as 2000oF (1100oC) at the burner. Foods must be watched closely to avoid burning. Cooking temperature is adjusted by raising or lowering the grate that holds the food. Salamanders are small broilers used primarily for browning or glazing the tops of some items. They may also be used for broiling small quantities during off-peak hours. Salamanders are usually mounted above the range.
Grills are used for the same cooking operations as broilers, except the heat source is below the grid that holds the food rather than above it. Many people favour the taste of grilled foods, because of the “charcoal” taste that is actually created by smoke from meat fats that drip into the heat source. Although smoke from meat creates the taste that people associate with grilled foods, actual wood smoke flavours, such as hickory or mesquite smoke flavour, and can be added to foods if those woods are burned in the grill under the food. In order to do this, you must use a grill designed to burn such fuels.
Griddles are flat, smooth, heated surfaces on which food is cooked directly. Pancakes, French toast, hamburgers and other meats, eggs, and many potato items are the foods most frequently cooked on a griddle. Griddles are available as separate units or as apart of a range top. Clean griddle surfaces after every use, so that they will cook at peak efficiency. Polish with a griddle stone or griddle cloth until the surface shines. Follow the grain of the metal to avoid scratching. Condition griddles after each cleaning or before each use, to create a no-stick surface and to prevent rusting. Procedure: spread a thin film of oil over the surface and heat to 400oF (200oC). Wipe clean and repeat until griddle has a smooth, no-stick finish.
A deep fryer has only one use – to cook foods in hot fat. Yet because of the popularity of fried foods, this function is an important one. Automatic deep fryers are powered by either gas or electricity and have thermostatic controls that maintain fat at preset temperatures. Automatic fryers remove food from the fat automatically after a present time. Pressure fryers are covered fry-kettles that fry foods under pressure. Foods cook faster, even at a lower temperature.
2 PROCESSING KITCHEN EQUIPMENT
Vertical mixers are important and versatile tools for many kinds of food mixing and processing jobs, both in the bakeshop and in the kitchen.
The food cutter or food chopper, familiarly known as the “buffalo chopper, ” is a common piece of kitchen equipment used for general chopping of foods. A variety of attachments make it a versatile tool.
The slicer is a valuable machine because it slices foods more evenly and uniformly than can be done by hand. Thus it is valuable for portion control and for reducing cutting loss.
VERTICAL CUTTER/MIXER AND FOOD PROCESSOR:
The vertical cutter/mixer (VCM) is like a large, powerful, high-speed blender. It is used to chop and mix large quantities of foods very rapidly. It can also be used for puréeing (soups, for example) and for mixing liquids.
HOLDING AND STORAGE KITCHEN EQUIPMENT:
Hot Food Holding kitchen Equipment
Several types of kitchen equipment are used to keep food hot for service. This kitchen equipment is designed to prevent the growth of bacteria that can cause disease. Because food continues to cook at these temperatures, it should be held for as short a time as possible.
Steam tables are standard holding kitchen equipment for serving lines. Standard-size counter pans or hotel pans are used as inserts to hold the foods. Flat or domed covers may be used to cover the foods.
A bain marie is a hot water bath. Containers of foods are set on a rack in a shallow container of water, which is heated by electricity, gas, or steam. The bain marie is used more in the production area, while the steam table is used in the service area.
Overhead infrared lamps are used in service areas to keep plated food warm before it is picked up by the service staff. They are also used for keeping large roasts warm.
COLD FOOD STORAGE KITCHEN EQUIPMENT:
The quality of the food you serve depends to a great degree on refrigeration kitchen equipment. By keeping foods cold, usually below 40oF (5oC), the refrigerator (known in the trade as the ‘cooler’ or the ‘box’) guards against spoilage and bacterial growth. Freezers are used to hold foods for longer times, or to store foods purchased in frozen form. There are so many sizes, models, and designs of refrigeration equipment that it would be futile to try to describe them all.
To enable refrigerators and freezers to work at top efficiency, observe the following rules:
Place items far enough apart and away from inside walls of refrigerator so that cold air can circulate. Freezers, on the other hand, work most efficiently when they are full.
Keep the door closed as much as possible. When storing or removing an item, do it quickly and shut the door.
Keep stored foods well wrapped or covered, to prevent drying and transfer of odours.
Keep refrigerators spotlessly clean.
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