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Salamanders & Broilers in the Home Kitchen


Chris Amirault
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I'm spending a lot of time thinking about options for replacing ovens at the house I'm moving into soon, and I realized this weekend, while hanging out in the kitchen of the restaurant where I bartend, that I'd really, really like me a salamander.

Indeed, though my wife bakes and I do my share of roasting, we do a lot of broiling: cooking or browning proteins, toasting bread for croutons, melting cheese, etc. Right now, I blast the oven to 550F, turn on the "broiler," and watch the food roast with a bit of poorly dispersed high heat darkening stuff here and there.

I don't think that a commercial salamander is an option, but I've started to hear about infrared broilers and have been wondering what's out there. Does anyone have any experience with such things?

Chris Amirault

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Poking around on the Blue Star site a bit, I noticed that their oven come with 15K BTU infrared broilers; I know that DCS ranges at least used to have them, too.

Traditionally-constructed broiler performance seems to vary widely among manufacturers. My $3000 Kitchen Aid range has a fierce unit that makes the 30" American-style Miele oven I use for teaching (at $4000 for a single oven) seem like a butter warmer. If you go shopping, maybe you should take a loaf of bread for testing purposes.

Dave Scantland
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I'm not really sure.

KA says the broiler element for the current equivalent model to mine is 3240 watts (roughly 11K BTU), but in fact I have two broiler elements. One is employed in "Econo" mode, which I would rename "Pretty Useless" if I could; I suspect that this element is not as powerful (maybe 1600 watts/5400 BTU) as the broiling element. In "Maxi" mode, both elements come on, combining to make a six-pass unit that provides even, high heat spanning about two-thirds of the oven width -- as it happens, the width of half-sheet pans and most broiling pans.

Dave Scantland
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Eat more chicken skin.

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I remember when looking at ranges for the kitchen remodel a few years back that there was some warnings that you really needed to keep the door ajar for the IR broiler to stay on. Like a standard oven broiler it will cycle on and off if the door is closed. Most salamanders are open units. Some heating elements are easily raised and lowered to achieve the desired temperature and browning.

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I have a gas infrared broiler in my Dacor oven. It works really really well, but the Dacor's are pricey. I think it's pretty hard to go wrong with a kitchenaid oven

Marlene

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Mostly, I want people to be as happy eating my food as I am cooking it.

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One of my friends has a countertop salamander but it requires a 220 outlet. It isn't very big, maybe two feet wide, but it is very efficient at making quesadillas (the task I performed the one time I used it) but it gets a lot of use for gratin dishes, fish, etc.

I think it is an Anvil but can find out for sure later. I know that it cost less that $1500.00.

Years ago I had a huge Garland range that included a salamander (gas) and it worked brilliantly and was used almost daily.

There are times when I still miss that monster.....

Edited by andiesenji (log)

"There are, it has been said, two types of people in the world. There are those who say: this glass is half full. And then there are those who say: this glass is half empty. The world belongs, however, to those who can look at the glass and say: What's up with this glass? Excuse me? Excuse me? This is my glass? I don't think so. My glass was full! And it was a bigger glass!" Terry Pratchett

 

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One of my friends has a countertop salamander but it requires a 220 outlet. It isn't very big, maybe two feet wide, but it is very efficient at making quesadillas (the task I performed the one time I used it) but it gets a lot of use for gratin dishes, fish, etc.

I think it is an Anvil but can find out for sure later.

Years ago I had a huge Garland range that included a salamander (gas) and it worked brilliantly and was used almost daily.

There are times when I still miss that monster.....

I think Blue Star is essentially the current incarnation of Garland.

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I'm spending a lot of time thinking about options for replacing ovens.... I'd really, really like me a salamander.

If you're looking into a replacement oven anyway, do have a look at the BlueStar stuff - although I'm mostly a stovetop cook, I love the oven on ours, and the broiler is ferocious. Just awesome.

cheers

Derek

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One of my friends has a countertop salamander but it requires a 220 outlet. It isn't very big, maybe two feet wide, but it is very efficient at making quesadillas (the task I performed the one time I used it) but it gets a lot of use for gratin dishes, fish, etc.

I think it is an Anvil but can find out for sure later.

Years ago I had a huge Garland range that included a salamander (gas) and it worked brilliantly and was used almost daily.

There are times when I still miss that monster.....

I think Blue Star is essentially the current incarnation of Garland.

I didn't know that. My Garland was made in 1969, had 8 burners, a flattop grill/griddle and the raised salamander at one end and two full-size ovens (each held 4 sheet pans) and a warming "shelf" overhead.

The floor had to be reinforced because it weighed nearly half a ton. I wasn't about to move it when I sold the house and actually IT sold the house as the first couple that viewed the house walked into the kitchen and said they would take the house without even looking at most of it. I loved the continuous grid over the burners. My previous ranges all had individual burners and moving a heavy pot from one to another was a task I was happy to forget.

Incidentally, it required a much larger gas line - a solid pipe that was connected through a special fitting that would allow for some movement. (in case of earthquake) and an early version of an automatic cut-off valve that was very expensive but I was glad it was there when the '71 Sylmar earthquake hit.

Edited by andiesenji (log)

"There are, it has been said, two types of people in the world. There are those who say: this glass is half full. And then there are those who say: this glass is half empty. The world belongs, however, to those who can look at the glass and say: What's up with this glass? Excuse me? Excuse me? This is my glass? I don't think so. My glass was full! And it was a bigger glass!" Terry Pratchett

 

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When I was doing my kitchen reno, I also dreamt of a salamander, since like you, I use the broiler a lot. Alas, insufficient space and budget.

I have a Bluestar 36" range, and the infrared broiler was one of its many attractions. I do love it--a wash of even, searing heat. If I have any complaint, it's that it isn't big enough--it's probably the same unit that they use in the 30" range, though they could fit a bigger one in the 36".

btw, the Bluestar is same as a Garland. If I understand it correctly, at some point Garland decided to stop manufacuring their residential model, and sold those rights but not the name. It does indeed weigh a ton and needs a larger gas fitting than other residential ranges. When my plumber saw the specs, he figured it was an error. He called Bluestar service, who confirmed it, and assured him that they often get calls from plumbers with the same question.

andie, your Garland sounds like a dream.


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I'm spending a lot of time thinking about options for replacing ovens at the house I'm moving into soon, and I realized this weekend, while hanging out in the kitchen of the restaurant where I bartend, that I'd really, really like me a salamander.

Chris, if you get a salamander in your home kitchen, well.... I'll be mighty jealous. Man, that is an amazing idea!

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I had a DCS 30" range for about a decade and the infrared broiler performed admirably, if a bit quirkily. The DCS I knew doesn't really exist any more, so I have no idea how current-generation DCS units perform. The older ones are available on the used market, though. I sole mine on Craigslist for $750 and I think the purchaser is lucky to have it.

That being said, there is no serious comparison between an oven broiler and a restaurant salamander or upright broiler. It's like bicycle versus car.

The BlueStar unit is the only actual salamander I know of for the home market. Although, I'm not sure what codes prevent someone from just buying a used restaurant salamander for a few hundred dollars and using it at home. That's something that needs to be researched.

Depending on what one wishes to accomplish with a broiler, there may be various substitutes. For example, the blow torch works well for a lot of things.

Steven A. Shaw aka "Fat Guy"
Co-founder, Society for Culinary Arts & Letters, sshaw@egstaff.org
Proud signatory to the eG Ethics code
Director, New Media Studies, International Culinary Center (take my food-blogging course)

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  • 2 weeks later...

We were at my mother-in-law's place in Connecticut last weekend. They installed a Garland restaurant range and salamander in the house in the 1970s. It still stands today:

1273413340313.jpg

The thing is pretty awe-inspiring, and cooking on the burners makes a mockery of all "pro-style" ranges I've used. There's just no comparison between a real restaurant stove and a de-clawed range designed for the home, no matter how professional it looks. The salamander is even more impressive. You turn it on and a sheet of hotter-than-hell flame engulfs the roof of the broiler. Whatever you put in there gets cooked so quickly it's disorienting. I made a frittata and couldn't believe how quickly the top got browned.

1273413817726.jpg

Much to my surprise, however, my mother-in-law had precious little good to say about the unit. She liked the burners on the range but nothing else. The oven, she said, never maintained a consistent temperature and was therefore not useful for baking. And she stopped using the salamander in the 1980s after one too many grease fires. As if on cue, the smoke alarm went off as she was telling me all this.

Steven A. Shaw aka "Fat Guy"
Co-founder, Society for Culinary Arts & Letters, sshaw@egstaff.org
Proud signatory to the eG Ethics code
Director, New Media Studies, International Culinary Center (take my food-blogging course)

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... btw, the Bluestar is same as a Garland. If I understand it correctly, at some point Garland decided to stop manufacuring their residential model, and sold those rights but not the name. ...

According to the About Bluestar page on the company's site, the history is a bit different from that, though only interesting if there's no room in your mouth for more cheese, at the moment: Blue Star is a name which has existed only since 2002. The parent company, Prizer-Painter, has been around as a stove maker since 1880, and got the contract to produce all small Garland stoves up to Garland's 60" models for several decades; that is, Prizer-Painter was an OEM for Garland. The smaller Garlands were sometimes built by Garland, and sometimes by Prizer; the larger stoves were always manufactured by Garland themselves, as far as I've been able to find out. Now Garland is itself a brand of Manitowoc Foodservice, and there's no public statement about their manufacturing. Prizer created the Blue Star name when they decided to compete in the residential market, instead of the commercial one.

Back to residential salamanders. There aren't a lot of choices. Most of them have fairly wimpy electric heating elements, excepting the gas Blue Star unit. (Does Wolf make a gas one also?) The Blue Star unit uses the same ceramic infrared panel as the oven's broiler, but has two of them, and therefore twice the heat output.

Salamanders are much cheaper to get used from restaurant supply places. (There are also lots of used commercial "cheese melters," which would serve as a salamander for virtually all home kitchen use, I'd think.) However, there's a major caveat here - even if the commercial equipment has been installed by a licensed installer to applicable commercial code, very often residential homeowner insurance policy carriers will refuse to honor claims when commercial equipment has been implicated in a home fire. (Your mileage may differ; however, I did verify that that was the case with my existing policy.) The commercial salamander also takes much longer to get to working heat, and puts a lot of heat into the room. With the Blue Star's ceramic panel, it's putting out as much heat as it's capable of producing within a minute or so of fully lighting. (The lighting is sort of weird - a kind of glow plug starts first, and only when that's gotten hot enough to ignite the gas does the gas valve open, and gas start flowing across the ceramic surface.) I oversized my hood - 4 fans in a 60" Vent-a-Hood, instead of the 2 which I needed immediately, and the 3 which were suggested - in case I ever want to add the salamander or a gas charbroil unit, but that should be plenty of exhaust capacity to take the heat from the Blue Star out of the room.

The price differential is even more extreme between, say, 36" commercial ranges by Garland or Wolf, and a Blue Star residential-code unit. Unfortuanately, many cities specify that any installation of a commercial stove (30,000 to 33,00 BTU/hr/burner) requires a hood with a Class 1 fire suppressant system to be kosher with code, and there's still the same problem with residential insurance carriers refusing to pay up even if the hood is in. The installation of a commercial salamander is an automatic requirement for a Class 1 hood, at least in Portland.

I put in a 36" Blue Star 6 burner about 6 months ago, and am in serious love. 22,000 BTU/hr/burner isn't as hot as a commercial unit, but it's still considerably more kickass than a residential Wolf or Viking. When I had the new gas line run to that part of the kitchen, I had the installer put in a second gas head, so if I ever want the salamander, all I'd need to do is unscrew the dead-end plug, attach a flex line, and open up the valve. I'd suggest doing that, too, Chris - it was no additional charge to install the second drop beyond the original quote price. Something else to consider is the size of the gas line to feed both the stove and a salamander. To satisfy the total BTU ratings of both the stove and the salamander, code required me to bump the gas line up to ¾" from the ½" which would have been sufficient for just the stove. Make sure you check the delivery capacity of your line, which is partly a function of the run length.

Paul

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I put in a 36" Blue Star 6 burner about 6 months ago, and am in serious love. 22,000 BTU/hr/burner isn't as hot as a commercial unit, but it's still considerably more kickass than a residential Wolf or Viking. When I had the new gas line run to that part of the kitchen, I had the installer put in a second gas head, so if I ever want the salamander, all I'd need to do is unscrew the dead-end plug, attach a flex line, and open up the valve. I'd suggest doing that, too, Chris - it was no additional charge to install the second drop beyond the original quote price. Something else to consider is the size of the gas line to feed both the stove and a salamander. To satisfy the total BTU ratings of both the stove and the salamander, code required me to bump the gas line up to ¾" from the ½" which would have been sufficient for just the stove. Make sure you check the delivery capacity of your line, which is partly a function of the run length.

Paul

Good advice about the size of the gas line. The BS range requirement of 1/2" is already larger than a typical 6 burner gas range. If you're paying for a new gas line, it's best to think ahead if you imagine being able to add a salamander in the future.

I love my 22K burners too!


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  • 3 years later...

Afternoon everyone -- I wanted to bump this thread a bit and ask if anyone has bought and can give some insight on the bluestar salamander -- I have a 48" bluestar that I love and we are in the process of starting to consider a kitchen remodel -- I would love to hear people's thoughts on the bluestar salamander - I should note I am more interested in the performance of the salamander - not whether or not I should/should not buy it.

Thanks!

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I don't have the BS salamander, but I do have a RNB 30" with the IR broiler. It's damn hot--I see no need for the stovetop salamander with this broiler, but then again, I don't broil and bake at the same time. I can see the stovetop salamander as an asset if you do. BUT the dimensions of the BS stovetop salamander seemed a bit limiting--your heatproof plate has to fit into the rather narrow salamander opening. Using the in-oven broiler, you can have any shape or size dish, as long as you center it directly beneath the broiling element.

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  • 1 month later...

Well, as an update to my salamander desires, I took the plunge and grabbed a Bluestar Salamander off of eBay and drove from Chicago to DC to pick it up this weekend.  I am in the process of preparing for a kitchen remodel, so I am slowly collecting the major pieces to lighten the blow come groundbreaking...I am pretty friggin excited about this thing -- it is patiently waiting in my garage....

 

2014-04-14 09.05.48.jpg

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