Precision cooking with induction heat-plus recipes and tips
Induction cooking-already popular with professional chefs-is gaining popularity due to the dramatically shortened amount of time needed to preheat or cook food on the stovetop. Just think: Making a "special" dinner after a long workday won't be such a chore. There are other aspects to induction stovetops that appeal to users, too: potentially more heat, precise temperature control, and energy efficiency (more energy goes toward the actual cooking rather than being lost into the surrounding environment, thus cooking the food faster). Plus, it's a boon for households with small kids: The cooktop remains cool to the touch no matter how high the temperature it's on, due to the nature of electromagnetism. And, because the stovetop stays cool, any spilt food will neither stain nor get baked onto the surface; it can merely be wiped away for easy maintenance. Finally, for anyone living in hot climes, induction cooking keeps kitchens cooler, as almost all of the energy magnetically pours into the vessel and not the atmosphere. While the transition from conventional electric or gas burners to induction is easy, there are a couple of considerations to keep in mind.
A conventional stovetop uses either gas or electricity to heat a burner, coil, or bulb whereas the induction range's electromagnetism turns the pot or pan itself into a heat generator. But not every pot or pan will work with induction heat: The piece must have a flat bottom so that direct contact can be made between the surfaces, and most importantly, it must be made of magnetic material. Ideally, the cookware will be made of cast iron or stainless steel. Reputable companies such as Viking, All-Clad, Staub, and Le Creuset all specify which products are induction-compatible. But if purchasing brand new cookware is not a realistic option or you just want to be frugal, how can you tell if your current pans can be used on an induction cooktop? Place a small magnet on the base and see if it sticks to the surface. If it does, the cookware will work with induction heat. If you need to purchase new cookware, make sure it's compatible with induction cooking.
To get you started, we've highlighted five recipes that take advantage of induction's speed, precision, and versatility.
Take Advantage of the Induction Stovetop with These Recipes
Shaved Brussels Sprout and Shallot Sauté
An ideal induction candidate, this needs to be sautéed, followed by a quick sweating, and then higher heat for browning.
This recipe usually requires lengthy simmering but induction cooking cuts the time by a third.
Lamb Stew with Lemon and Figs
This is a perfect dish for induction heat, as it requires various temperature changes for browning, sautéing, boiling, simmering, and reheating.
Pan-Seared Rib-Eye Steaks with Porcini and Rosemary Rub
Get a nice even brown on these steaks when pan-searing on an induction stovetop.
- Chocolate Dulce de Leche Bars (see full recipe below)
- The precision provided by induction heat is essential for tempering the chocolate dulce de leche in this delicious dessert.
Chocolate Dulce de Leche Bars
Gourmet | July 2008
by Shelley Wiseman
Yield: Makes 24 bars
Active time: 30 min
Total time: 3 1/4 hr
Fudgy cookies go Latin with an infusion of dulce de leche, a sweet milk caramel similar to cajeta and arequipe. These cool treats are happily portable on their crisp shortbread crusts.
For shortbread crust:
- 1 stick unsalted butter, softened
- 1/3 cup packed light brown sugar
- 1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1 cup all-purpose flour
For chocolate dulce de leche:
- 1 cup heavy cream
- 1 cup dulce de leche
- 4 large egg yolks
- 5 ounces 60%-cacao bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped (preferably in a food processor)
Make shortbread crust:
Preheat oven to 375°F with rack in middle. Butter a shallow 9- to 9 1/2-inch square baking pan (1 to 1 1/2 inches deep). Line bottom and 2 sides with parchment paper, leaving an overhang. Butter parchment.
Blend together butter, brown sugar, vanilla, and salt in a bowl with a fork. Sift in flour and blend with fork until a soft dough forms.
Spread dough evenly in baking pan using an offset spatula or back of a spoon, then prick all over with fork.
Bake until golden, 15 to 20 minutes, then cool completely in pan on a rack, about 30 minutes.
Make chocolate dulce de leche:
Bring cream and dulce de leche to a simmer in a small heavy saucepan, stirring with a wooden spoon until dulce de leche has dissolved.
Whisk together yolks in a bowl, then slowly whisk in hot cream mixture. Return to pan and cook over medium heat, stirring constantly, until pan is visible in tracks of spoon and mixture registers 170°F on an instant-read thermometer. Remove from heat and whisk in chocolate until melted.
Pour chocolate mixture over cooled shortbread and chill, uncovered, until cold and set, about 2 hours.
Run a small knife around edges to loosen, then transfer to a cutting board using parchment. Cut with a hot clean knife (dip in hot water and wipe clean between cuts) into 24 bars. Chill until ready to serve.
Cooks' note: Chocolate dulce de leche bars can be chilled in an airtight container up to 1 day.
Get more expert advice for the kitchen:
By Heather Tyree
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