Is 14,000 BTU enough?
- mattwright Aug 12, 2007 11:42 AM
We are finally getting round to renovating our kitchen, and I am looking at ranges.
Cooking is a huge passion for me, so much so I am writing a cookbook. I am so looking forward to getting rid of our dated electric hob oven, and getting a decent dual fuel range.
We are looking for a pro style range, something that gives good heat, and is solid. I should also note that we most likely won't be in this house for more than 4 years, so I am not looking for a complete beast of a range.
Right now, I am looking at Five Star. I have heard some great things about them (solid, great burner pattern, decent heat, good price). I am looking at their "open burner" range to help keep costs down. The range burners are rated up to 14,000 BTUs. If I went with the sealed burner, it would cost more cash, but the burners are then rated up to 21,000 BTUs. The price difference is about 300 bucks between the two.
I have never actually cooked on a pro-style range, and in fact very little on gas. I would love to hear people's thoughts on the following:
Is 14,000 BTUs enough?
How do people rate five star (bear in mind what I mentioned about moving from the house in a few years, and thus I am not going to buy an awesome blue star).
Cheers, and happy cooking!
Just my personal experience with a gas range. I had a standard electric range before the remodel and ended up getting a Viking 36" six burner rangetop with all sealed burners rated at 15,000 BTUs. Granted I have to use propane instead of natural gas fuel but the range is converted for propane. I love cooking on gas but I swear my old electric range was hotter. If I have a large pot of water boiling and add some cut broccoli or pasta the water will stop boiling and I need to cover the pot to help bring it back to a boil faster. This was never an issue before. I would love a hotter burner but it's not to be. I ended up getting a turkey fryer so I could use the high BTU burner for wok cooking.
I also love to cook. I have a Frigidaire (my interim range...I'm dreaming about a 36" Wolf with grill eventually). It was less than $800, and has two 12000, one 14000, and one that is something like 9500, which is a simmer burner. I had to replace a pretty lame electric, and find that the 14000 is definitely hotter than my electric was and boils my pasta water fairly quickly. Not amazing, but so far I haven't needed more heat for anything. The only thing I haven't done is a lot of wok cooking, so I can't speak to that.
I really like having a simmer burner. My sister has a gas cooktop, and is continually frustrated when trying to cook low and slow because she can't get the flame low enough. I'd encourage you to look into having a range of BTU's.
True bear, a lot of these ranges need simmer plates to achieve a workable low temperature. I am not a big Viking fan but what I like about my rangetop and still do is that all the burners have the same capacity and can be turned down to a very low simmer without the need of any accessories. I didn't want to have to worry about what goes where.
I agree; I guess I take it for granted that my Viking will go as low as I want in any situation. I have a 30" with 15,000 BTU per. Had it since 1993 and find it better than any electric I ever had, even though I have to use propane. I totally forgot about fiddling with the temps and burning the bottom of pans!
Optimizing the range depends on your style. Authoring a cookbook would indicate that you have a particular bend on food. Is this a book about searing scallops, producing easy to prepare family meals, eating healthfully prepared foods? I actually think that a home style range - not pseudo commercial - is the best for testing recipes for a home cooking cook book. Think about what your reader will be using - average equipment, average pots, etc.. Working around inherent strengths and weaknesses of any given range is part of the process. I've cooked on AGA, Wolf, Viking, Thermador, Jade, Montrachet, Dynasty, Happy Chef, blah, blah, blah. If your stove boils water, you're out of gates. If you're old rig has chronic problems, what are they? What are you trying to fix? Keep in mind that a high output range (21,000 btu) is going to make your kitchen (possibly entire house) into a giant particulate trap unless you have a powerful hood and engineered air handling. Stay small. Yes 14K is plenty for a home set up. My home range is probably 12K at best, and doesn't sear well at all, but if you work it with pan heat you can get some very credible results.
Get as many btu's as you can get/afford. You'll never want to cook on a lower output stove again. Growing up in the deli business I always dealt with stoves that could get many gallons of water boiling for potato salad etc, so when I remodeled our kitchen I went big. It's been great.
Why are you fixated on a duel fuel range? Have you considered induction? I always swore by gas, but in my new house, it would have been too expensive to run a gas line in to replace the old electric cooktop. As a result, I had to switch to induction, and I can't say enough good things about it. I would never go back to gas now! Go to www (dot) theinductionsite (dot) com I think... you can learn so much there.
14000BTU is not enough for a full range of cooking, especially if you want good results cooking for a lot of people using a wok or pan-searing ahi or doing a blackend-X dish for more than just yourself. You need high heat to repeat good results.
Minimum for good results with a wok or fast searing is around 25000 BTUs. But I couldn't find this in a consumer stove. We ended up with a Bosch with one 17000BTU burner, but I have to do my high heat work on a modified propane-fired camp stove outside for parties and "real" cooking.
I made a pork loin the other night, seared it in my dutch oven on my 14000 burner, and had to cut the heat because it was too high. For wok cooking, it probably doesn't cut it, but for searing roasts, etc. it's fine.