What Ray said.
But, you want to see the market shifting to something really different for induction? Check out the soon-to-be released Paragon countertop unit with Bluetooth temperature probe control from a GE spin-off:
The temperature probe gives +/- 1°F control over temps inside the pot. Unfortunately for PutSomethingTogether, this unit is only 1400 watts and is aimed more at the sous vide crowd than the at the quickly-boil-large-pots folks. Interesting nonetheless.
For history buffs, Vollrath's induction cookers have always been made in China, AFAIK. Vollrath used to contract them from Luxine which, though based in California, had its factories in China. Luxine made PICs for other companies, too, including Viking. But, then, Vollrath bought Luxine and the Middelby group bought both Cooktek and Viking, so no more Viking PICs.
Well,I can see the attraction of getting something for less than half-off. IIRC, the Ultra countertop 3500 unit usually sells for around $1500 if not more.
Made in the USA? I see that on the web site link, but I have to say that's a new one. While a lot of Vollrath's products are made in the US, AFAIK, Vollrath's induction manufacturing is in factories it owns in China. (It got them when it acquired induction designer/manufacturer Luxine back in 2009). You'd think that you could google some press releases or other trumpeting if Vollrath had decided to onshore production. I can't find any.
Maybe Century Link can chime in on this?
The "bigger cooking surface" just means it is in a bigger box (with more cooling for the electronics). I rather doubt that the coil and induction field are any bigger. (The other major commercial induction makers, Cooktek and Garland, don't have bigger coils in their higher powered units.) You might try calling Vollrath on Monday and see what they can tell you.
"What I am wondering is could I damage the bigger wattage induction unit by running it on 120v?"
You mean running the "bigger wattage" (i.e., 240v) unit from a voltage converter plugged into a 120v kitchen outlet with 20 amp outlet? (And, btw, you will need to check those breakers for your kitchen circuits because a lot of houses have them on 15 amp breakers which means even less power for converting.)
Put it this way -- do you think you would damage an electric stove by never running the burners at more than 40% or 50% power?
Now, if you repeatedly push the limit and often trip the circuit breaker or fuse on the converter, you could --- eventually --- wind up with some damage to your "bigger wattage" PIC just as you might if you started turning it off by yanking the power cord out during operation.
About that 14" diameter 15 qt. pan: you do understand that, while the induction fields in 240v PICs are stronger than in the 120v models, they really are not any larger in size? Until you get up into the some of the much more expensive commercial 240v PICs, the induction coils are not any bigger than in the 120v ones. You will still be dealing with a 4 to 6 inch torodial hot spot.
Also, if you get a 240v unit with, say, 20 settings, you won't be able to use more than ten of them when running on a converter. Maybe fewer than that. Maybe only six of them, depending on how the power stepping is programmed in the particular unit you have. Maybe fewer than that.
Does having only five or six usable steps really seem like "enough settings for precise cooking" to you? It sure as heck doesn't for me.
"If I could spend a couple hundred bucks more and get a bigger 3500 wattage/ larger capacity unit that had fine heat control at lower settings, I would go for it."
A couple hundred more than what? The $100 for Duxtops and Max Burtons? So, you are looking at what? Sunpentown? Eurodib?
No fine heat control running those at the low end of their power scales. Their low ends might start out pretty hot. A couple of years ago, when I checked out a Sunpentown 240v unit, for example, it seemed that the lowest setting was something over 1000 watts. Also, in the low end of their power settings (where you would be operating them on a voltage converter), they use very crude pulse width modulation. That is what Centurylife so aptly called a couple of seconds of OMG full-on-boiling hot followed by some seconds of completely off followed by OMG hot again. (For anyone interested in induction who has not already checked out the lucid discussions of portable induction cookers found at CenturyLife's website, I highly recommend checking it out)
Now, I could be wrong on all this. It has been a couple of years since I last checked out 240v units. Maybe you've found some new and less expensive 240v induction cookers with fine controls. If so, please share.
Otherwise, it seems to me the converter thing and not-so-expensive 240v Eurodibs, Sunpentowns, etc. just won't be a very workable solution.
What you are paying for in buying a Vollrath 59500 is much finer heat control and evenness of heat at the low settings. If you don't care about the fine control nor about evenness of low heat, there is no reason to consider one for a portable induction cooker (PIC).
But . . . why bother with a 240v unit? Are you making beer or doing high volume canning? Making pasta for 20 folks at a time?
If so, you will be very disappointed running with a converter. A converter plugged into a 120v line won't give you more than a theoretical 2000 watts. It is actually more like 1600 or 1700 watts. No more than you actually get from the 120v PICs which claim to be 1800 watt units. As you say, wattage is wattage. if you can't run your pic at more than half power before blowing out the fuses on the converter, why bother?
Maybe you are looking to tide yourself over until you can wire in some 20 amp 240v outlets?
If so, a couple of things to bear in mind. One: the converter you linked to -- it is only rated for 100 watts. You will need a much bigger one. Second, every 220v PIC that I've ever seen uses a NEMA 6-20 plug which won't fit those converters. There will be additional kludging to get it to work.
Another thing: if you are looking to use the PIC for any cooking besides rapidly boiling water, the less expensive PICs have only 8 or 10 power settings. That makes for wide spacing on a 120v unit. Go with a 3500 watt unit -- say, an Avantco --- and the spacing between power settings is twice as large. That can be problemmatic for general cooking tasks. Ever had to use one of the old GE coil-burner cooktops or stoves with the push-buttons for setting heat?
Looks like you are having fun. A minor niggle. When the pan has the rippled/ridged cooking surface that yours does, it is usually referred to a "grill" pan rather than a "griddle." Griddles are smooth surfaced. Think cooking pancakes as opposed to putting sear marks. For anyone interested in a actual pancake-suitable "griddle" for flex-induction, you might want to check out the carbon steel ones from Chef King.
The recommendation from the Blue Star fans at Gardenweb is to pull the drip trays forward an inch or so. That apparently deflects the heat enough to keep the knobs from getting too hot.
Over the last few years, Costco.com periodically runs out of NXRs but the 30" models are back in stock now. The NXR is pretty much a lower-cost knock-off of the Wolf sealed burner ranges from a couple of decades ago, back before Wolf sold the residential production to Sub Zero. I've had mine for three years now. It has been a very decent range but one aimed at a somewhat different market niche than Blue Star. Priced and built accordingly.
A resource to check out if you have not already done so is the appliances forum at Gardenweb/Houzz --
You can find numbers of long and detailed threads going back years with a wealth of first-hand information on stoves by Blue Star, NXR, Capital and American Range. Best to do the searching from outside (Google, etc.) as the internal search engine can be hit or miss.
For induction, you could consider having a cooktop with a white wall oven installed into the base cabinet beneath the cooktop. However, that likely would require some upgrades to existing 240v electrical circuits which, for that old range, is probably a 40 amp circuit.
Do you need external venting if you get a gas cooktop? Do you mean under codes? The answer is "probably not" if your kitchen has an operating window but indoor air quality concerns have led some jurisdictions to update codes to require venting over stoves. Best to check with you town's/city's/county's building permit office to see what the local code requirements are.
Otherwise, the venting is supposed to accomplish three things. Fisrt, for gas stoves, it helps with kitchen air quality by removing combustion by-products. Not carbon monoxide -- unless a modern gas stove is serious maladjusted, the amount of CO should be minimal. We're talking other by products like NO and CO2. Second, is is to expel kitchen cooking effluents (steam, grease droplets, odors, etc.) so the air is cleaner and so that goo builds up less quickly on the cabinets, counters and etc. The last is a home/kitchen comfort issue -- the vent helps remove waste heat. Bear in mind that about 60% (or more) of the heat from gas burners is often going around the pots and pans and out into the room.
As for your question about getting a dual fuel range, there are several considerations, some for and some against. One is that gas ovens pump out a lot more heat into a room than electric ovens. Two is that electric ovens usually do a much better job at self cleaning. Three is that it seems to be easier to engineer even heating with electric ovens than gas ovens, although many modern gas ovens do a very good job of even heating. Four is that very few gas ranges have an extra/third heating element for convection baking (AFAIK, only Frigidaire has some gas stoves with a third oven element for convection). Fifth, there can be something of a price premium for dual fuel stoves. Five is that dual fuel ranges are often more complex which means that there is a slightly higher problem rate. For example, the last time I checked the membership surveys at Consumer Reports, I noticed that GE electric stoves had a 5% rate for problems in the first five years, GE gas ranges had a 7% rate, and GE's dual fuel ranges had a 9% or 10% rate.
I mention GE here because, the last time I checked, GE was the only major brand stove maker who offered dual-fuel ranges in white. (There are, of course, premium priced brands that do this.)
That "50" does indeed mean it is a 50 amp breaker. Ta-da! Bells ring, lights flash, the band plays. You are good to go with the GE induction cooktop.
You are asking about the current model GE 30" model, GE Profile PHP9030SJSS, right?
Lots to like in this unit, including the bridgable burners on the left. good for running rectangular pancake griddles/grill pans, deglazing roasting pans and poaching big fish.There has been some discussion of this model recently on the gardenweb/houzz appliance forum. Some folks like the control set-up, some not-so-much.
BUT -- isn't there always a big "but" in the way? -- the new GE induction cooktops all require 40 amp circuits. Your existing GE radiant probably only needed 30 amp service.
If you are lucky, your house's builder put in a 40 amp circuit or at least used 8 gauge AWG cable. If so, you can swap in the new cooktop and maybe just need a new breaker in the box. If not, its time to figure how hard/expensive it will be to run a new power line to the cooktop.
If that is really expensive (as in you have a slab on grade house with cathedral ceilings and the power panel is on the other side of the house) you may be looking at finding a 30 amp cooktop and the cost of enlarging the the cutout in the granite. AFAIK, the only 30" induction cooktops that now run on 30 amp circuits are the Bosch models in the 300, 500 and 800 series. Unfortunately, as you already have discovered, the dimensions are slightly different from those of the GE ranges. Now, if you are lucky, the prior installers slighly oversized the cutouts and the Bosch might just fit. If you are medium lucky, they cut the opening for the max dimensions for the GE. If so, you only would need to shave 1/8" off one face of the opening. (IIRC, the minimum specified cutout depth for the Bosch units is 19 3/4" front to back which is the same as the the max cut-out depth spec for the GE units. The minimum cutout width for the Bosch is 28 3/4" (right to left) which is is 1/8" more than the max specified cut-out width for the GE cooktops (28 5/8").)
Depending on how hard it is to pull a new, bigger cable from the box to the cooktop space, it might be a lot less expensive to slightly enlarge the cut-out.
I don't envy the choice.
You're right, a half-steer is a lot of beef.
Let me offer some suggestions that come from a couple of decades of buying a quarter steer. And a lamb and a hog. (Hog butchers may or may not cure the pork for you but I've come to prefer doing the cures myself for hams and bacons.)
Do you have friends who want to subscribe to a large purchase? Are you willing/able to provide some freezer space for them for the portions that they do not have room to store for themselves? Do you think you might want to donate a lot of meat to an animal shelter or zoo a year or so from now when the meat starts getting freezer burn?
If not, get the quarter for every one of the reasons everybody else has already suggested and you seem to have decided.
As sedimental does, ask for the shin bones and tail bones, too. (You might have to pay for them -- our meat packer sells them by the box as "dog bones", but they are very inexpensive.) The other cuts you decribed are good things, too.
If you do not already have one, buy a vacuum-bagger-sealer such as a Foodsaver. Use it. What arrives from the butcher/packer may be wrapped in heavy plastic and then wrapped in butcher paper. Maybe it is cryovac. Either way, my experience is that some of those packs may be good for months while others will be good for maybe a few weeks of freezer storage before you start seeing freezer burn. Putting packages in an additional layer of protection will keep the meat usable for a lot longer. If you are penurious or really cheap, you can try ziploc freezer bags and a sucking them down with soda straw. That's so much work for a 1/4 steer that most folks won't want do it more than once.
If you must get pre-ground meat, do ask for 1# packs as sedimetal recommends. However, if you have a choice, I recommend not having any meat pre-ground. The ground meat will (usually) be trimmings. If you ask, many butchers/packers will just bag the trimmings for you. Taking the trim in large pieces diminishes worries about risks of packing plant contamination. Better, yet you are not limited to ground meat receipes --- you can make stews, ragus and soups with the trimmings (especially with a pressure cooker). You can trim off excess fat when you want. If you do not often use ground meat, then you can use a food processor to do rough chopping for making the odd home-made burger or meat loaf or ragu. (Cook's Illustrated has a couple of articles on how to do this without pureeing the meat.)
If you use ground beef more frequently, consider getting a grinder. For small quantities (say a couple of pounds at a time) consider a grinder attachment for a stand mixer. (The ones for the KitchenAid mixers work pretty well in my experience.) Burgers made with ground-to-order meat and a little care have noticably better taste and texture than most ground meat from the super-market or that has been pre-ground and sat in the freezer for several months.
If your trim arrives in 5 or 10 pound bags, consider a meat saw for cutting the frozen clumps into more manageable sizes, say a pound or two. Easily done while the meat is frozen. My town's hardware store sells meat saws -- they look like oversized hacksaws -- but, being a guy, I have a dedicated blade for my reciprocating saw (aka "Sawzall") which makes very short work of cutting-down the frozen packs. Trim won't have any bones in it so no worry about bone shards for this.
I also recommend a good spring-valve pressure-cooker if you do not already have one. With a quarter of a grass fed beef, you may find that a lot of the cuts will be the kinds that benefit from long & slow braising. Good pressure-cookers can make this happen so much more quickly that pot-roasts, boeuf bourguignon-style stews, ragu-style sauces, etc. become manageable for weeknight dinners.)
Funny you should mention that.
AFAIK, the Proline pans are 7 layers while the Industry5 pans (also sold under the brand of corproate parent Zwilling) are "only" 5 layers.
The difference probably will not much matter to most of us in our cooking except, possibly,for bragging rights on having obtained an incredible deal on what some regard as the "finest" induction capable stainless-clad cookware. Near as I can tell, the only noticeable difference between Demeyere's "Proline" and other lines is the slightly higher efficiency on induction ranges. This apparently is mostly noticeable only when using portable induction cooktops where the 10% extra efficiency of the Proline models may have some unexpected slightly untoward effects at maximum heat. Centurylife. who posts here, has some blogs discussing these subjects. Have you seen them? If not, here are some links:
Not sure what you mean by "pan types" -- whether you are asking for recommendations on brands or asking about materials (say cast iron versus carbon steel versus fully clad versus disk-base) or utility types (saute versus fry pans versus saucepans versus pressure cookers versus etc., etc.) --- but you can find literally dozens of past threads on all of these topics here as well as at houzz.com (formerly gardenweb, try the appliances and cookware forums) and egullet (try the kitchen-consumer forum). If you haven't already been to theInductionSite, they have a pretty good discussion of induction suitable cookware --
Please don't take these suggestions as blowing you off. There is just a wealth of information already out there, and such a wealth of individual preferences, that you may have better luck matching your particular cooking preferences and budgets to the many, many possible choices.
Now, if you are hoping (as some folks sometimes do) that somebody here has some secret knowledge of a universally acknowledged "best" choice and and can just give you the magic word -- well, there is nobody who can give you the "best", the "one-size-fits-all" answer.
As for the question, do interface plates (a/k/a induction adapter disks)"really work?" Yeah, kinda. For some things. Probably not what you wanted to hear, but the answer is "it depends."
Basically, the plate/disks "adapts" by converting induction hobs into something very much like a radiant electric coil burner with all the trade-offs that implies. An adapter plate will not give you the fast induction responsiveness with non-induction cookware. This is because an induction hob heats the adapter disk/plate (or any other induction suitable thing such as cast iron griddle pan) which then radiates heat much as a coil burner does. As with much else in cooking equipment, there are trade-offs. Depending on what you want to do, some trade-offs may work in your favor and some will not.
My experience is that adapters work okay for some kinds of cooking. Maybe that very thick, heavy-duty old, 10" diameter aluminium omlette pan you've had for decades and for which you find one specific heat level for making your omlettes. Other things, though, will not work as well as an actual coil burner. If, say, you want to use one of those 30-quart All-American brand pressure canners or that big non-magnetic steel kettle you might have been using for beer brewing, the adapter plate is a kludge and way slower than a regular coil burner.
As the others have stated, it can be done. There can be some limitations and constraints for you to weigh and balance when considering using portable induction cooktops (PICs) in place of a stove or "traditional" cooktops. Some of these factors may matter to you and some may not. CenturyLife's link discusses some of these and is a good write-up on the Vollrath if you haven't already checked it out.
For another thread on the Vollrath Mirage Pro 59500, see this one from last summer, if you have not already seen it:
One thing to bear in mind is that most PICs have smallish coils and produce hotspots in the middle of pans. You will get a four to five inch boil pattern, which is a reflection of the relatively small size of the induction coil used in most PICs. So, for evenly cooking pancake, searing, etc., you are likely looking at 8" diameter fry pans (which often curve down to 5" diameter bases.) The only PICs with a coil big enough for ten- inch-pans, afaik, are the much more expensive commercial models from Cooktek. If you are interested in this kind of thing, you can check out PG&E's Food Service Technology Center's test results on the head-spread from a Cooktek MC1800 "Heritage" unit at this link:
FWIW, there's newer MB model (MB6400) which has 15 power settings. ThH Vollrath Mirage Pro model 59500P (I think) is the one with 100 steps on the power side and dial is indeed the model with the 100 step setting and the dial conrtol.
An Oops and a couple of additional comments.
The oops is that I left out a word when comparing the KR and Fagor models. I meant to say "my Fagor is NOT as as convenient to use as my KR." What I was talking about is some design conveniences. One of them is how easy it is to see when the KR is at the exact right pressure (when the second ring on the pressure indicator is skoonch over the lip, the KR is at a full 15 psi and the internal temp will be right around 250F). With Fagor's Futuro and Duo models, you have to watch the vent so that you have a little steam coming out but not too much. It's anybody's guess at times when there is too little or too much. (Paying a lot more for one of Fagor's more expensive "Chef" models gets you a ringed rod indicator.) Also, the KR's have automatic lid-locking when the pot is under pressure while Fagor makes you manually lock before pressure will build and makes you manually unlock when pressure is released. Neither one will let you open the lid while the pot is pressurized, but I find KR's automatic locking/unlocking to be more convenient. Another item is that the KR pressure mechanisms are easier to dissaemble and clean if you ever gunk them up. OTOH, when you want to manually release pressure, Fagor has about the best and most convenient manual release system on the market. You just turn a dial to the release position where KR makes you pull-up or hold- down the pressure indicator rod until all the pressure is released.
Additional Comment # 1 is in response to what you mentioned about cooking on the stovetop not being such a big energy deal compared to the oven. It is actually better than that. With your induction range -- you have the GE slide-in induction range, right? --- that hour of cooking will be at a very low a burner setting. It does not take much to hold pressure once you've gotten the pot there. Can't recall exactly, but I think on the GE it will be something like 1.5 or 2.5. Either one is hardly anything compared to the oven's baking element.
Additional Comment #2 re waiting for sales. Fagor models often can be found on sales but that is pretty rare for KRs. Costco sometimes has pretty good deals on Fagors. Right now Costco.com is offering a two-pot Fagor "Rapida" set with a 4 quart PC, an 8 quart PC, and both pressure and glass lids for $99. The glass lids for using the pot as a regular saucepan. (This set comes and goes from our local Costco warehouse store which is why I'm memntion the online site.) The downside to the Rapida models is that they only have a single high pressure setting where the other Fagor models and all the KRs (and most brands of spring-valve PCs) have a medium and a high setting. The medium settings are used for foods that might foam too much during cooking on a high setting (like rice). Too much foam can gum up the pressure vents. (Won't make your PC explode because there are secondary overpressure systems that won't plug up, but it can be a big pain to clean up the venting and maybe the stovetop afterwards). Several friends have purchased the Rapidas from Costco and have been pleased since they never plan to use the mid-pressure setting. They figure that for any time they might worry about too much foam in a 4 quart pot, they'll just use the 8 quart pot and the extra space will keep the foam from reaching the valves in the lid.
Hope all this helps.
For small roasts, a PC is great if you like a braised roast or pot roast. You can make a pretty decent one-pound meat loaf, too. (Terrines and pates, as well, if you incline to those kinds of charcuterie). You can braise with relatively small amounts of liquid, too so you may get a more intensely flavored sauce/pot likker. If you use a trivet (most pCs come with one), you may be able to braise a small roast with under a cup of water/stock/liquid.
If you haven't already checked out the site that VitalForce recommended --- that's Laura Pazziglia's hippressurecooking.com -- it may help answer some of your questions about cooking times and suggest possibilities you might not have thought of. Also there is good comparison of electric and stove-top cookers answers which can pickup from Sueatmo's post. Basically, an electric is a fire-and-forget device like the slow cooker (and some electric PCs also can function as slow cookers when you want that kind of functionality.)
Since you have an induction range in your kitchen, you might want to check out Pazzaglia's tips for adapting PC recipes to cooking with induction. Basically, most PC recipes assume cooking on a gas or radiant electric which gives a certain time for ramping up to pressure and that adds cooking time that affects how long you want the pot under pressure. Induction can be so quick at coming to a boil that the timings can be off because of the shorter ramp-up time.
I find that a PC in the summer doesn't make my kitchen hot or steamy, but then I'm using it under range hood and I live in a pretty dry climate where our evening temps usually aren't all that high. If I lived in a place that was very hot, like Arizona, or hot and very humid like Florida, I might be inclined to go with a potable induction cooktop and put the PC on the lanai instead of the slow cooker. Or, like ellabee does, run the range hood and step back a bit and work on something else a little further from the stove. If you got a portable idnuction burner, many of them have burner timers have burner timers which give you something like a fire-and-forget capability of an electric cooker.
As do KungPaoDmplings and Vital Force, I also can recommend Kuhn Rikon pcs. I've had my 5.5 ltr. KR for two decades. I just replaced a valve gasket and the pressure spring but the main gasket is still going very strong. I find them elegantly simple to use. www.pleasanthillgrain.com has pretty much all of the models and good pricing.
I've also got a Fagor Duo 10 quart which was much less expensive. The trade off, for me, is that Fagor is as as convenient to use as my KR. No question of capability, though, just as as ellabee says. (The difference between her Futuro models and my Duo is shape. The Futuros are bell-shaped while the Duo is straight sided and a little less expensive. The Duos and Futuros work the same same.)
For all the reasons that Ellabee suggests, I too recommend getting a least a 5 quart model. Additionally, when you want to make stock or soup (one of the great functions of a PC, btw), you will find the extra capacity useful.
Regarding your question about times for braising some meat or cooking cooking a couple of cups of beans, it depends on the cut of meat (how fatty and how much connective tissue) and the types of beans, but you can pretty much always get them cooked in 30 minutes or less.
For example, 2 cups of Pinto beans (last year's crop), Cannellini or Black Beans take me about 4-5 minutes to full pressure, 12 minutes at pressure (I'm at altitude, so I add a couple of minutes) and about 8 minutes or so to let the pressure release. With Great Northerns, Navy or small Lima beans, its about 18 minutes total time. If you want to saute/sweat onions and such, add in that time as well. I have done a black-bean chile in about 30 minutes including blooming the ground chiles, sauteing onions etc. A couple of weeks ago, I made a cassoulet style stew (aka beans and weiners for grownups) in under an hour. Without a PC, it would have taken the better part of day. If I had been making it for two (as opposed to 10 dinner guests), it likely would have been closer to 40 minutes total time.
You mentioned a chile colorado with beef chunks. That brings us to a couple of other considerations that affect cooking times. One is cutting the meat into cubes really speeds up cooking times over what an oven roast will take. A pot roast might require an hour under pressure but the same roast cut into 1 or two inch cubes may very well require only 15 minutes under pressure. The other consideration is with braising meat where most of it sits above the liquid. The heat in a pressurized PC will be around 250F which is hot enough to get some Maillard browning. Cook's Illustrated has been promoting this technique for a couple of years, now. They usually do this with 3+ hour oven braises but I find it works pretty well with as little as 1 hour in a pressure cooker.
So, hopefully, this sheds some light on cooking times.
To be a bit more precise, the stove is called an Aga Cooker. "AGA Marvel" is the North American subsidiary of the UK-based multi-national conglomerate, AGA Rangemaster Group. The various ARG subsidiaries make a variety of stoves, cooktops, etc. for sale in lots of different countries with the longstanding Aga Cooker design being the most recognizable line over here in North America.
Cooking on an Aga Cooker was and is as Kaleo describes it. For me, cooking on a gas-fired Aga Cooker seemed rather like what I remember of cooking on an old wood-fired range without the need to stoke a firebox and poke the coals, or clean them out. (Kaleo is this forum's expert on woodstove cooking, btw, and probably could give more detail on this.)
A good place to see Agas in use is to find episodes of the old "Two Fat Ladies" cooking show.
The Cuisinart -- is that the "Combi-Steam-Oven (Cuisinart CSO300) that you recall?
Sigurd, the CSO300 offers the usual countertop oven functions with the additonal options for convection and steam-oven (and convection-steam) functions. The trade-off for the additional functions is that the Cuisinart's interior is smaller than that in Breville's BSO 800XL.
If interested in exploring the CSO300 further, the chowhound thread is probably this one:
The oven has following on e-Gullet where there is this very long and detailed ongoing thread on the CSO300:
Both threads will have links to other sites where evaluations ranged from nearly unmitigatedly postive (at FoodandWine.com) to problemmatic in use (at chefsteps.com).
FWIW, the Breville 800XL is Cooks Illustrated's recommendation for a countertop oven.
<Will Bar Keeper's Friend even work? >
Oftentimes, yes. The rough stuff is probably minerals boiled out of the water. As Chem says, that's where soaking with vinegar can help. Or sprinkle a lot of BKF, which contains oxalic acid. Wet it to make a paste, spread it and let it sit for a few hours. Then rewet, maybe add more BKF and scrub to polish the interior (which usually removes discoloration.)
Being familiar with the Cooking Issues article and having both a 5.5L/6qt. KR (20 years old) and a 10 qt. Fagor Duo (bought last fall), I can tell you that both produce stocks so similar that you would be very hard put to find any differences if you were an extremely finicky and perspicacious elite gourmand with ultra-sensitive taste buds. I'm not, so I've found no real difference between the stock from my KR and that from my Fagor beyond the increased volume I can make in the bigger pot.
The taste and consistency difference that I've found with stock is not between the Fagor and the KR but between them and the stock I tried making over the holidays in somebody's older weighted valve pc. (Cannot recall whether it was a Mirro or Presto but it was stanless steel.) Nobody would say I have ultra-sensitive taste buds. I thought the weighted valve PC made stock that was quite acceptable. There were no complaints about the gravy made from it. But, to me, the stock from the jiggle-top was thinner and less well flavored than what I get from my spring-valve pcs. Not horrible, just not as good.
Do note that even though KR and Fagor models are called non-venting, they do, in fact, vent a little bit during cooking. It is only in comparison to the weighted vent (jiggle top) models -- like the Iwatani that Dave Arnold used in the CookingIssues test -- that KR and Fagor models can be called non-venting. What they should be called is "minimally venting" but that doesn't sound like very enticing marketing, does it?.
The KR is a quieter and less obvious about this than the Fagor, enough so that some posters will insist that nothing vents from a KR. But all spring-valve pressure cookers have a small amount of evaporation. Modernist Cuisine reported evaporations being in the range of 2 to 4%. Laura Pazzagilia quantified this with her product tests reported on her hippressurecooking website and found most spring-valve models incur liquid losses of averaging around 3.5% at high pressure over some period of time for both Fagor's Futuro model and KR's Duromatic. She also noted that KR seems more efficient and works at lower heat settings than the Fagor, which accords with my experience. (She found that the countertop-electric InstaPot apparently lost only about 2% but its high pressure setting is about 30% less than on the stovetop models.)
As for additional considerations for choosing between KR and Fagor, there is price, and that consideration varies with how far up or down you go in the Fagor product line. I think you'd find that any Fagor can do a good job.
Personally, where I find I prefer my KR is that it seems so much easier for me to judge pressure from KR's marked rising rod than Fagor's method of looking for a "little" steam from the vent on the pressure-setting-knob. (Fagor does have a rod indicator on its most expensive line, the "Chef" models, but the Rapida, Duo and Futuro models all require judgment about a "little" venting of steam.) Basically, with the KR rod showing the red ring slightly over the rim of the conical deflector, I know I am at full 15 psi pressure. (If the ring is right at the rim, the pressure is a little low, resulting in a bit lower cooking temperature which may be how Cook's Illustrated's tests rated the KR as cooking at only 240F.)
The thing I see with the Rapida, Duo and Futuro models of Fagors is that it takes a number of tries to figure out what is the right "little" amount of steam. Until you've done it several times, you may be getting pressure that is a bit too low (maybe slightly undercooking some foods in precisely timed recipe) or bit too high (slight overpressure, cooking a little faster than maybe intended.) This is not a constant failing, but something you just have to learn to judge from a bit of experience. This is a problem mainly with recipes with shorter times -- say carrots, where perfect doneness may require, say, 5 minutes at full pressure.
It is not particularly onerous, but it takes little experimentation to find the groove. When I got my Fagor, I went looking for youtube, vimeo etc. videos that might illustrate this but was not able to find any. I made a stab at making my own but it turned out to be really hard for me to get the right lighting and audio to get a meaningful video and I haven't had time to get back to it. Sorry about that.
To me, the KR is more robustly built and the pressure parts are all metal with heavy duty siliconized rubber gaskets. The parts are readily available and mostly inexpensive. After two decades, I recently replaced the pressure spring and the secondary pressure release valve (the gasket had worn on the original) but the original lid gasket is still going strong. Haven't had the Fagor long enough to need to do anything to it. Seems to me that the Fagor pressure control valve might be harder to clean out completely if something gummed it up than would be the case with the KR.
As for the questions about usable capacity, there are a number of considerations. For foods that may expand a lot (rice, beans, etc.) figure on keeping the volume at half the pot capacity. For things like stocks, soups, pot roasts, large quantities of vegetables (such as potatoes), max volume for pressure cooking will be 2/3 of rated capacity. I was no aware that KR is now saying no oatmeal and apple compote and such. I never noticed anything like that in my older manual, and have never had any problem making such things in small volumes using only natural pressure release, but apparently, times have changed. I see that the hippressurecooking and some other sites now recommend cooking steel cut oats in a container within the pressure cooker, bain marie style. See, for example,
For Lindsay's info, there are plastic retainer clips on the bottom of the steam deflection shield -- a small conical "hat" at the peak of the lid through which the pressure rod projectson the KR PCs. The clips' only function is as retainers that hold the conical "hat" in place when the lid is inverted for washing or storage. Otherwise, when you are cooking and or releasing steam, the shield stays in place and functions just fine without the clips.
FWIW, after restoring the old sink cabinet, I replaced the original faucet with an inexpensive Home Depot unit. the present clearance is over 11" --- enough that I could fit my 10 qt. Fagor PC under it but my 12 quart stockpot is too tall.
You should have no trouble with the KR models you are considering.
For topeater and soccermom --
I'm thinking topeater does not need a gas range to use a pressure cooker and the "too high heat too quickly" can be a problem with thick sauces in pressure cooker recipes on any kind of range.
I agree with Shkra11 that Topeater's recipe seems like it has too thick a sauce -- the wine reduced to a syrup, the tomato juices thickened with tomato paste. Also, it sounds like the recipe has chicken layered in pretty tight keeping the liquid from circulating.
Bringing the pot to pressure more gradually may -- note the qualifying "may" -- keep the heat from cooking off liquid from the sauce solids before liquid can circulate down from above. The basic problem is still the same, though, which is this: thick sauce and soup may burn without producing enough steam.
A couple of alternative suggestions for dealing with this kind of recipe. One is to just add more liquid -- maybe 3/4 cup of stock or water -- and, at the end, remove the chicken and reduce the sauce for 3 or 4 minutes if it is too loose. (If you want to explore this further, most pressure cooking books will explain the details of why you want post-pressure thickening for pc receipes, as does Laura Pazzaglia in numbers of recipes on her hippressurecooking site.)
Another option that I often use when pressure cooking with a somewhat thick braising sauce: I use the 1/4" thick perforated steamer/trivet plate that came with my Kuhn Rikon. This keeps the sauce solids off the bottom (where they might scorch) but still immersed in the sauce.
I am not familiar with the Fissler's accessories but you could try what I use with my other pc (a 10 quart Fagor whose base is much wider than the plate I use in my 6 quart KR): a collapsible steamer basket with the legs unclipped so it sits on the bottom of the pan. (Also, unclip the center post to get that out of the way.) These steamer baskets are widely available and inexpensive. Amco is the most common branded version but there are lots of no-name Asian versions around at grocery stores, hardware stores, etc. The Amco and all the others are inexpensive, around 10 to $12, I think.
Using a plate/trivet does require the extra step of scooping out your browned onions and mushrooms to place the trivet/basket into the cooker, and then putting the solids back in, but it does keep the sauce solids from scorching/carbonizing on the bottom during pressurized cooking.
I'm not feeling quite as testy as Chem's post comes across, but I am a little puzzled about what you want to know.
Are you thinking that there has to be some special or magic technique because this happened in a pressure cooker or because Fissler pans are so expensive and self-proclaimed as unique? Not to worry. Its just stainless steel. You clean it the same way you'd clean burned-on stuff from any other stainless pot.
Or, maybe you you've never had to do this before with any kind of pan? Do a search and you'll find tons of advice and you-tube videos. Maybe way more than you wanted.
Generally, an overnight soak with a solution of water and baking soda is the recommended first step. Some folks will recommend vinegar instead. That generally works with thin layers or scorching. With thicker coating of burned-on-crud, you can try soaking with a lot of dish soap, water and a scoop of dishwasher detergent. If the layer is of crud is really thick and hard (say, anthracite-like), you may find yourself prying up the loose stuff and then resorting to stronger methods. Do you have a stainless steel scrubby? If the crud is really thick, try oven cleaner. May take a number of applications and some scraping/scrubbing. Last time something like this happened to one of my pressure cookers -- note the passive voice, it wasn't me who did the pan in -- I wound up using all of the methods I mentioned and combined them with periodic scraping and prying with the square end of a steel spatula/turner. When I had most of the carbonized crud removed, I followed up with repeated applications of BarKeeper's Friend to polish it all off. Took a couple of days but the PC is fine, now.
For the future, the most likely cause of getting burned on stuff with a pressure cooker on an electric stove is starting the pressurized part of the cooking with too little liquid in the pot and too high a heat when bringing the pot to pressure. Others have made the same mistake. (The Fissler's user's guide should tell you about the minimum amount of liquid you need.) It's a live and learn thing.
Best sales prices in the next few months will be during President's Day weekend and the week beforehand. That may give you prices on new items close to if not comparable to ding-n-bing/scratch-n-dent/outlet prices.
Not sure what you are thinking of in terms of "features." Features seem to be proliferating into the more value-priced ranges. Heck, I've noticed that some coil-burner ranges are now turning up with convection fans in the ovens, again. Smoothtop ranges in your price range will not likely not come with 3-oven element convection, mutiple variations in third-element convection baking and broiling, probe controlled baking/roasting, and multiple timers, and likely will not have Sabbath/Shabbat modes. Some models will have expandable burners, and digital touchpad oven controls. Ordinary convection fans can be useful for more even baking and roasting and can speed surface drying when roasting (thus speeding browning.) The expandable burners are useful for matching heat to pan size -- using the smaller diameter ring results in less waste heat in the kitchen when using smaller pans on the big burners. Touchpad controls are a mixed blessing -- many find them easier to clean than knobs, they can be easier to calibrate oven settings to actual temps. But there are more electronics that could fail and some touchpads are more durable than others.
Judging by the complaints at Consumer Reports and on Gardenweb's appliances forum, you want to stay away from the stoves with Whirlpool's so-called "Aqualift" oven self-cleaning feature. It turns up on some models under the various Whirlpool brands --- including Whirlpool, Whirlpool Gold, Maytag, and Amana --- so it is something to check if you are considering any of the Whirlpool branded range. CR's lab testing panned the Acqualift and there are plenty of online users reporting that Acqualift is next to usefless for self-cleaning. But do note that it is okay to get ranges that offer a "steam cleaning" functioning in addition to the standard high-heat self-clean functions -- just avoid the Aqualift-only versions.
As a general rule, GE (including it's Hotpoint sub-brand) have been the most reliable electric ranges over the last decade, according to Consumer Reports' annual membership surveys. In the last couple of years, Frigidiare (including Frigidiare Gallery) and the plain Whirlpool brand have improved their reliability to match GE's. A couple of percentage points behind them are Kenmore and Samsung ranges which tend to be "value priced" more than than other mainstream brands at big box and on-line vendors. The fine print in CR's survey reports indicates that these reliability differences may not be large enough to be statistically very significant. Do note that there have been complaints about Samsung warranty service and support being slow and not very good. LG is another high-feature-value leader in pricing (particularly at the likes of Lowe's, Home Depot, and etc.) but the CR survey results show LG electric stoves lagging about 5 points behind the reliability leaders, a gap which which CR says is statistically significant. LG has a warranty and support reputation similar to Samsung's.
Behind these brands are several higher-end feature-rich electric ranges with problem rates double that of their value-priced brandmates. Judging from CR's survey reports, these are advisedly avoided. So, if you are shopping the outlet/scratch-n-dent stores and find great deals with JennAir and KitchenAid or the high-end Electrolux electric ranges in your price range --- avoid them. KA and JA are Whirlpool brands and Electrolux owns Frigidiare but these higher end versions have more complex complex electronic control boards than the less expensive brandmates. Seems like there are more things that can fail and more things vulnerable over time to the high heat generated in oven self-cleaning.
Have you tried Sears Parts Direct using the full Kenmore model number? I just tried but I was using the model numbers from the Sears sales website. Those appear to be partial numbers which, of course, turn up no replacement parts listings. Parts Direct seems to want the whole model number. It will be on a tag somewhere on the mixer, probably on the base.
If nobody else here turns up with direct info, another suggestion would be kind of onerous but you could haul your mixer to a store that has a 5qt tilt-head KA mixer on display. You could see if that bowl fits. If it fits, you might be able to buy a bowl there. Some stores carry spare bowls. The local BB&B does here.
Good point about cleaning flour accumulations, but I'm not sure what you meant by "operating parts" being "made totally from metal." Are you referring to beaters, to tilt-head locking mechanisms, to accessories or to driveline gearing?
If that refers to the subject of "all metal gears" in the drivelines then that may not be an important difference.
Decades ago, Hobart started putting a nylon (aka plastic) sacrificial gear in their home mixers' drivelines as a simple, extremely reliable, robust, fail-safe way of protecting the mixer motor from overload-burnouts. That same design and part continued after Whirlpool acquired KA from Hobart in 1986. About a decade ago, internet chatter about old Hobarts supposedly having "all metal gears" led KA to come up with a pot-metal version of the sacrifical gear so that some mixer boxes could say "all metal gears." The pot-metal version works the same as the nylon version although some people think it makes for a noisier mixer. These days, some KA mixers come with the nylon sacrificial gear and some with the pot-metal sacrificial gear while the largest and most expensive KA models (ProLine and Commercial models) have an electronic disconnect for preventing overheating and overload burnout.
Don't know if the Kenmores use the nylon version of the gear, but I would not worry if they do. When I blew the nylon gear on my 2-decade old K5SS --- mixing waayyy too big a batch of 100% rye dough --- the replacement part cost $4.50 and took all of about 20 minutes to replace (including the time to get my tools out). The old K5 is still chugging along same as before.
On a completely different aspect of metal versus plastic parts: for those who do not like the plastic casing on the KA-branded meat-grinder attachment, Chef's Catlog carries an all-metal version imported from Hungary.
Adding to what Duffy just said, you do want to consider how much bread dough you will be mixing at a time. If you just want to make bread and mostly work with 1 or 2 # batches, a good bread maker will do a fine job of mixing your dough. You can always bake it in a regular oven. (For years, the King Arthur Flour test kitchens did this using Zojirushi breadmakers.)
If you are looking for an all-purpose mixer and are planning on not mixing larger batches of dough, I think the 5 quart KA model would be fine.
I have a nearly-20 year-old K5SS (5 quart lift-bowl with a 375 watt motor). I have been making 3.5-pound batches of bread dough (two big loaves) at least once a week since I bought it. That's with unbleached white and golden whole-wheat flours (Wheat Montana and King Arthur). I've had no trouble with 2# to 3# batches of dark whole wheat and 100% rye flours, either. Making larger batches (4# or greater) is pushing it. The KA mixers (and their Hobart predecessors) have always had a sacrificial gear that strips out to protect the motor from severe overload. This prevents motor burnouts. I stripped the gear in mine about ten years ago after a couple of weeks with double and triple batches of heavy rye and whole-wheat (home-ground flour) doughs. Easily fixed - the replacement gear cost $4.50 and took about 20 minutes to install, including gathering the tools and putting them away. Since then, I've limited the very heavy doughs to 2# batches and have not had problems. (For me, 2# of rye dough is a lot of bread; for others, that amount may be barely noticeable. YMMV)
By the way, when you read commentary about "all-metal" gears for KA mixers, the discussion is -- sometimes unknowingly -- about that one "fail-safe" sacrificial safety gear. Because of the internet perception/urban legend that the pre-1987 Hobart-made Kitchenaids were "so much better" because "they had all metal gears", some KA models now have the sacrificial gear made from pot-metal rather than nylon. The models with the metal sacrifical gear are noisier than the ones with the nylon (Hobart-invented) gear. My (admittedly failing) recollection is that the KA 5 quart model and the 7 quart (Proline) models use the nylon fail-safe gear while the 6 quart model is one of those that uses the pot-metal protective gear. Best thing is to look at the product box or check model specs -- the ones with the metal fail-safe gear will somewhere say "all metal gears."
The Anskarum Assistent mentioned by ranier and rasputina are pretty amazing mixers. (The "Assistent" model has been made in Sweden for decades by Anskarum and marketed here through other brands such as Electrolux. For the last few years, it has been marketed under the maker's own name.) I had the use of one for a time about a decade ago and was impressed by its dough mixing capabilities.
The problems? They are priced well north of $700 and their different design means there is a learning curve.
But, short of buying an actual commercial mixer, there is nothing better for mixing large batches of bread dough at home. For a view of them, check out the Pleasant Hill Grains website. If further interested, there are numbers of threads here and at thefreshloaf.com discussing them. There are also a number of online videos explaining and demonstrating how to use them.
I have no hands-on time with the Bosch mixers, but owners have discussed them in threads here and at Fresh Loaf where they go into some detail. The Bosch mixers also can be expensive compared to the KA models you asked about.
Except that the OP has a recirculating unit not an exterior venting one where make-up air (MUA) will matter.