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Professional chefs consider cast-iron pans precision cooking tools. That's because they are dependable and ensure precise control of cooking temperatures. Their heat retention qualities allow for even cooking temperature without hot spots. Cast-iron pans can be used on top of the stove or to bake in the oven.
An ideal heat conductor, cast iron also heats evenly and consistently. It is inexpensive and will last a lifetime with proper care. It's also an old-fashioned way to cook fat free. When well seasoned, a cast-iron fry pan will be stick resistant and require no additional oil. These pans go from stove to oven, no special utensils are needed, it won't warp and cleanup is easy.
All new cast-iron pots and skillets have a protective coating on them, which must be removed. American companies use a special food-safe wax; imports are covered with a water-soluble shellac. In either case, scrub the item with a scouring pad, using soap and the hottest tap water you can stand.
Here's how to season a new cast-iron fry pan, courtesy of whatscookingamerica.net:
The surfaces of a new cast-iron pan are porous and have microscopic jagged peaks. When you purchase new cast iron cookware, they are gunmetal gray (silver) in color, but after using them, they start turning darker until they are very black. This is normal and should be expected.
Avoid buying cast iron pans or skillets with wooden handles; these are useless for oven cooking. Season a pan by rubbing it with oil, solid vegetable shortening, bacon grease or lard. Heat it for 30 to 60 minutes in a 300 degree oven and then let it cool to room temperature. Repeat this process several times to create a stronger "seasoning" bond. Some experts say food-grade coconut oil/butter also works great.
By seasoning a new pan, the cooking surface develops a nonstick quality because the formerly jagged and pitted surface becomes smooth. Also, because the pores are permeated with oil, water cannot seep in and create rust that would give food an off-flavor. Never put cold liquid into a very hot cast iron pan or oven. They will crack on the spot!
Be careful when cooking with your cast-iron pots on an electric range, because the burners create hot spots that can warp cast iron or even cause it to crack. Be sure to preheat the iron very slowly when using an electric range and keep the settings to medium or even medium-low.
It is important to realize that unless you use your cast-iron pans daily, they should be washed briefly with a little soapy water and then rinsed and thoroughly dried in order to rid them of excess surface oil. If you do not do this, the surplus oil will become rancid within a couple of days.
Remember: every time you cook in your cast-iron pan, you are actually seasoning it again by filling in the microscopic pores and valleys that are part of the cast-iron surface. The more you cook, the smoother the surface becomes!
There are kits you can buy for your employees that educate on hand, wrist and finger safety. This is a good idea for anyone working in a kitchen with power appliances such as mixing bowls. Each year more than 500,000 people injure their hands, wrists or fingers. Nearly one out of four "on-the-job" accidents involve these parts of the body. To help reduce these problems it is important for employees to learn about the most common hazards to these areas of the body. Materials in the kits can include a video program, motivational posters and employee booklets. Videos can include information on physiology of the hand, wrist and fingers, identification of common hazards, proper work procedures, tool use and maintenance, using personal protective equipment, injuries and first aid and more.
Some restaurant experts suggest management of all food facilities test their staff at least four times a year by holding contests. The contests cover setting tables from various posted menus and re-setting flatware. These exercises will certainly aid in fine-tuning your staff in the art of the table change-over with speed and precision.
A top quality professional mixing bowl can handle tough commercial jobs. Some have a 575-watt motor, which can effectively mix up to 14 cups of all-purpose flour and produce up to 8 pounds of mashed potatoes. These mixers can also churn through double batches of bread dough. All you need is a spiral dough hook attachment, which replicates hand kneading with a forceful punching and rolling action. These mixers have many speeds ranging from a very fast whip to a very slow stir. And the gears are designed to minimize splatter as speed increases. An electronic speed sensor allows you to maintain a consistent mixing speed even while adding new ingredients to your recipe. And some types are designed so the mixing bowl will automatically shut off when ingredient overload takes place.
Mixing bowls can come in a variety of fashionable colors. And make sure you find one that carries a one-year hassle-free replacement warranty.
When selecting the proper pizza pans for your establishment, don't forget to order the proper supplies with which to use it. There are pizza screens, peels, ladles and cutters as well as dough boxes, dockers, rollers, sheeters and pressers and even pizza ovens to think about. Evaluate the needs of your establishment before ordering.
Whether you're flash-frying fish or deep frying vegetables, selecting the right fry pan for your featured menu items is essential. For even heat distribution, select a heavy duty fry pan with a 3-ply bottom. Stainless steel pans are very durable and can withstand the daily rigors of a restaurant kitchen.
You can purchase commercial fry pans in aluminum, glass and ceramic, stainless steel and non-stick.
There are three types of stainless alloy used in flatware manufacturing -- steel, chromium and nickel. Consider appearance, durability and price when deciding which will work best for your restaurant.
Flatware labeled 18 percent chrome stainless contains 38 percent more chrome than flatware labeled 13 percent chrome stainless. Flatware made of 18 percent chrome stainless will stand up to heavy commercial use better than 13 percent chrome stainless and is priced only slightly higher.
New Yorkers know good pizza. So do Sicilians, Greeks and the deep-dishes from Chicago. If you're in the pizza making business, know your audience then know your pizza pan. There are many different kinds of pizza pans to choose from. There are deep dish, standard, coupe style, wide rim, dough retarding, hard coat, silicone and more. Decide which material pans best fit your needs before shopping around. Compare prices and durability online.
|Jennifer Mathes, Ph.D.|