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Franzisaurus_Rex

Advice: Braising in Smoker?

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I've had an idea flowing across my brain waves over the last few months. It's on every channel and I'm getting ready to pull the trigger. 

I'd like to try to braise a dish in my smoker. I am thinking of braising a rabbit, but the I'm not looking for guidance on the protein/ingredients, rather the technique. I turn to you, o internet, in hope you will tell me your secrets.

Has anyone ever braised in their smoker before? I've done some research, but I haven't seen much on the "how to" for the technique. Here's my plan:
- Brown the rabbits on skillet (stovetop)
- Get the aromatics/other stuffz sweated browned, etc.
- (MEANWHILE) Smoker heats up to 300-325 degrees.
- Add stock to rabbit, bring to a simmer on the stove top.
- Transfer to smoker, braise uncovered for 1-2 hours, then cover with foil to finish for as long as necessary.

I've seen folks smoke and then braise, but I haven't seen much on the idea of braising something IN the smoker. I saw something on CookingwithMe.at about doing something similar with pork belly, but that's about it.

All I know is that after using stock+drippings from a smoked turkey created this CRAZY MIND-BLOWING flavor, so I'm basing this a lot off that idea.

-Franz

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300-325 in a smoker?  I suppose it is possible, depending on your equipment, but that is way above what I would consider "smoking" temperatures.  There may be some adjustment/adaptation necessary to make this happen.

 

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I've been known to use my smoker as an extra oven when needed but not sure what, if any, benefit would be had from using it.  If you're doing a "cookout"  type event, you can certainly put your product in a disposable aluminum pan, cover it and go.  For normal dinner prep, you won't get the wonderful smell from braising throughout your house and you'll have to clean the outside of your vessle. 

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No reason it shouldn't work. But unless you just want to do it in the smoker, seems like it'd be much easier to just toss the uncovered pan in the smoker for a couple hours to get the smoke you want and then cover it and transfer it to your oven to finish. Once the item being cooked is covered, the smoker is just acting as an oven that will be less efficient than the one in your kitchen. I don't know what type of smoker you're using but mine is electric and would be hard pressed to maintain those temps. A wood, charcoal or propane smoker would be better able to hold the temps but would probably need a reload (wood or charcoal) or a lot of propane for the timespan you're talking about. But again, no reason it shouldn't work if you want to do it all in the smoker and it should do fine even if you can't maintain the higher temps you want.

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2 hours ago, Tri2Cook said:

No reason it shouldn't work. But unless you just want to do it in the smoker, seems like it'd be much easier to just toss the uncovered pan in the smoker for a couple hours to get the smoke you want and then cover it and transfer it to your oven to finish. Once the item being cooked is covered, the smoker is just acting as an oven that will be less efficient than the one in your kitchen. I don't know what type of smoker you're using but mine is electric and would be hard pressed to maintain those temps. A wood, charcoal or propane smoker would be better able to hold the temps but would probably need a reload (wood or charcoal) or a lot of propane for the timespan you're talking about. But again, no reason it shouldn't work if you want to do it all in the smoker and it should do fine even if you can't maintain the higher temps you want.

I've come to similar conclusions as this and what others have said.  You make a great point regarding transferring it to the oven once it is time for the dish to be covered.  I am thinking that 1-2 hours uncovered (monitor braising liquid and add more as needed - similar to an uncovered cassoulet)will thicken the braising liquid and give me the smoky flavor I want.  Transferring to the oven to finish off covered is a logical next step.

 

Regarding equipment, I have a charcoal smoker and I can generally get the temperature anywhere from 200-400 depending on how I set it up. 

 

Thanks for help brainstorming!


Edited by Franzisaurus_Rex (log)

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Another question comes to mind... does anyone know of a time frame for a food to reach its smoke saturation point?  I have heard reference to this concept (that food will stop absorbing smoky flavor at some point), but I haven't been able to find enough information to take advantage of this knowledge.  I'd ideally like to use this information to gauge when its good to cover the dish and transfer to the oven.

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I'd be worried about the braising liquid picking up too much fly ash and other smoke particulates. Having a braising dish or pot (or whatever) sitting on a smoker will catch a bunch of the stuff that's flying around the smoke chamber. That might be fine for an hour or so, but I think it'd start to get gross pretty quickly (depending on how much smoke you're using) and you'd want to put a lid on to prevent it from taking on more smoke flavor. And at that point, you might as well be in an oven.

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On 2/25/2017 at 0:07 PM, Franzisaurus_Rex said:

I've seen folks smoke and then braise, but I haven't seen much on the idea of braising something IN the smoker.

 

This I do but usually only in my electric smokers—it's not as easy, but doable in a charcoal smoker too.

What veg do you plan to braise with the rabbit?

I'd mildly smoke both rabbit and veg for a bit—suspended above a drip pan, at a relatively low temperature—then proceed with the braising.

58b351bda3485_McGeeBraisesandStews.PNG.45ba346dd6cb0bb83ef4e8cec752bc11.PNG

Source: On Food and Cooking: The Science and Lore of the Kitchen By Harold McGee, p. 163


Edited by DiggingDogFarm (log)

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When you open the smoker to braise, the smoker temperature will quickly drop to ambient temperature.

 

dcarch

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Braising in your smoker works great especially with disposable pans because of the smoke soiling the vessel as mentioned above. Mature charcoal fires generate negligible airborne ash and you can keep the smoke under control too. 

 

The food including liquid will pick up smoke flavor, so take it easy on the smoke wood. Or, if you cover the pan it's equivalent to using an oven so smoke the meat naked for a while first for maillard. 

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The quintessential smoked BBQ beans catching drippings from a nearly finished pork shoulder should be tried too. 

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1 minute ago, Dave W said:

The quintessential smoked BBQ beans catching drippings from a nearly finished pork shoulder should be tried too. 


I always do my beans that way. A pan of beans below the meat. I frequently toss a pan of mac and cheese on the shelf above the meat as well. But when the meat has been in the smoke for what I consider enough time, I always move everything to the oven to finish. I just find it easier and more efficient than keeping my electric smoker to temp for that much time. But I agree completely that doing what they original poster was asking about full term in the smoker is definitely doable.

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Well I'm no Stephen Raichlen, who I have witnessed use over a thousand dollars worth of ingredients on tens of thousands of dollars worth of equipment on a single episode of his show. But I have smoked hundreds of pounds of meat, veggies and other stuff like cheese and seafood on my cheap little Brinkman Smoke'N Grill which set me back all of $40 USD.

 

I don't have it anymore, and don't know if it's available, but I do have one of the stainless steel grills it came with (in 1986) that I use on my gas grill that was converted to charcoal when it broke. The Brinkman design was a charcoal pan near the bottom of the smoker, a water pan (which could also be filled with beer, wine, stock, aromatics, or whatever) and then two stainless racks above both of these pans. Then the cover goes on the cylinder to make a sort of Artoo Detoo-looking deceptively cute, but very effective smoker. Bonus! If you want to grill instead of smoke, just raise the charcoal pan to the first of the two rack supports, and place a rack over it on the second rack support. There was a temp gauge built into the hood and it had a latched door where you could add more charcoal or wood chunks or chips without lifting the lid and releasing all your heat. The water pan mitigated temps from the fire below, and prevented most ash floating up to the food. The water kept the food moist and everything from wild Canada goose, to whole turkey, whole ham, ribs, chickens, unhusked corn, and on and on came out so very delicious. I loved this smoker. It's sort of like braising to start with, because of the steam from the water pan. I never tried it with lean meat like rabbit submersed in braising liquid, but if I were going to try it, it would be with a set up like this to keep it in a moist environment and to keep floating ash from the fire at bay.

 

One Christmas, I had already bought a whole ham and the boyfriend came home with a turkey from work unexpectedly, so I smoked both in the Brinkman. Turkey (leaner) on the lower cooking rack, with the ham above to baste everything with fat. Oh! I just love, love this design. The water pan catches drippings so the fire doesn't flare up from fat dripping in it. If you want to cook forty pounds of meat like I did over a cold and windy 24 hours, you will have to stoke your fire with more charcoal and wood chunks about every four hours, including getting up from sleeping. 

 

The Brinkman was not only cheap, but the design was poor man's perfection, a masterpiece. If I ever have another $40 to spend other than on basic survival and sanity maintenance, I am getting another one or similar design, if as I suspect, Brinkman doesn't offer this anymore.

 

Also, if you are going for max smoke permeation I would not pre-sear any meat intended to be smoked. And if the Brinkman design/method can make a mean old male Canadian goose with very lean meat edible on an open rack over the water pan, I would anticipate it would do a fine job with farmed rabbit as well without putting it in a liquid bath.

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There is a lot of good advice in this thread.  In part due to logistical necessity, I've been using my smoker for big holiday meals for the past few years.  I've also been competing in a number of KCBS events each season for a few years so I have been somewhat immersed in this stuff. 

 

With ribs, brisket and pork butts, the general rule of thumb is that they aren't going to pick up additional smoke after about 2 hours.  With chicken most competitors don't use any wood because it takes smoke very easily and thus quickly gets plenty just from the charcoal and drippings.  I am not sure where rabbit would fall on that spectrum, but I would guess it is more like chicken.  I also believe any braising liquid could easily pick up too much smoke if it isn't covered for at least most of the cook (if not all of it).

 

While I like smoke, some of my holiday guests are not nearly as enamored with it.  Even I think some of my turkeys have been too smokey so I have been working to reduce the amount of smoke they get.  What I have learned is that when cooking on a smoker or grill, not getting smoke is much harder than getting enough smoke.  I even tried cleaning out my smoker and using extruded coconut shell charcoal, which produces very little smoke (some people/brands claim none), but there was still some smokey flavor - perhaps from the remaining buildup on the surfaces in my smoker.  That is why competitors who cook those dishes typically have a cooker that is only used for the "dessert" category (it usually isn't actually a dessert category, but that is almost always what wins it).

 

I also find that a dish might not seem too smokey to me after tending the smoker all day, but it comes though clearly when I get to the leftovers a day or two later -- and even after pulling them out of the freezer months later.

 

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2 hours ago, rustwood said:

 

 

With ribs, brisket and pork butts, the general rule of thumb is that they aren't going to pick up additional smoke after about 2 hours.  

 

 

Excuse me for nitpicking but this isn't accurate. Smoke particles will continue to adsorb to the surface of the meat so long as both are present. 

 

The chemical reaction that creates a pink smoke ring ceases above ~140F, so smoke ring formation stops after a couple hours but smoke flavor will continue to build. 

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I have only once in my life had meat I thought was too smokey; that, oddly enough, was in a bar in Philadelphia, and it was brisket.

 

I know when we used to cook pork shoulders on a pit, the traditional West Tennessee method of barbecuing, we'd cook them for 18 hours, over hardwood coals. Max temperature 275. The meat was moist, tender, and pulled like a dream, and the taste was to die for.

 

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46 minutes ago, Dave W said:

Excuse me for nitpicking but this isn't accurate. Smoke particles will continue to adsorb to the surface of the meat so long as both are present. 

 

The chemical reaction that creates a pink smoke ring ceases above ~140F, so smoke ring formation stops after a couple hours but smoke flavor will continue to build. 

 

I am not going to disagree with that and I understand why you called me on it.  I think it would be more accurate to say that many believe that it doesn't need more smoke after about 2 hours.  In addition, I think there is also a widely held belief (which may or may not be accurate) that compared to the first 2 hours, relatively little smokiness is added later in the cook.  In my experience (which is surely not authoritative) those who are cooking with charcoal (as opposed to stick burners) rarely add wood for smoke after 2 hours.  Often they add enough at the beginning of the cook to last a couple of hours and don't add more during the cook. 

 

About the only thing that everyone can agree on in BBQ is that there is no one true way.  People do all sorts of things with BBQ.  Some things are rooted in regional differences, some in personal/family traditions and preferences.  Certainly science has made inroads, but I personally doubt it is going to significantly change how the "art" of BBQ is typically practiced.

 

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58 minutes ago, kayb said:

 

I know when we used to cook pork shoulders on a pit, the traditional West Tennessee method of barbecuing, we'd cook them for 18 hours, over hardwood coals. Max temperature 275. The meat was moist, tender, and pulled like a dream, and the taste was to die for.

 

 

I may never manage to build/dig/cook over a pit, but I can dream. Where was the temperature measured: at the meat height, or just above the coals?

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3 hours ago, kayb said:

I have only once in my life had meat I thought was too smokey; that, oddly enough, was in a bar in Philadelphia, and it was brisket.

-----------------------

 

 

Liquid Smoke?

 

dcarch


Edited by dcarch (log)

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7 hours ago, Smithy said:

 

I may never manage to build/dig/cook over a pit, but I can dream. Where was the temperature measured: at the meat height, or just above the coals?

 

My father, who was a welder, built the "pit" out of galvanized steel; a box with no bottom, a grate, and a lid about six inches deep to set down over the whole thing. The temp gauge was in the lid. He would start at 175, and gradually build up, turning and basting hourly with a vinegar-based sauce, and finish off at 275. It involved shifts of staying with the pit during the night. 

 

The pit belongs to me now, although it's hanging on the wall of the barn up home. Next time I'm up, I plan to bring it home with me.

 

 

5 hours ago, dcarch said:

 

Liquid Smoke?

 

dcarch

 

Probably was. It was excessive enough as to be completely unpleasant.

 

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It is possible that a wood burning pit can impart an unpleasant smokey flavor. I don't want to go into a lot of detail but flaming wood can overdo the smoke flavor. Also possible cause of an unpleasant smoke flavor can come from inadequate venting which can let the smoke go 'stale'. 


Edited by Norm Matthews (log)

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19 hours ago, kayb said:

 

My father, who was a welder, built the "pit" out of galvanized steel; ----------------------

 

Just a quick clarification.

I don't think he used galvanized steel. A welder will not use that for making heated cooking appliance.

 

dcarch

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6 hours ago, dcarch said:

Just a quick clarification.

I don't think he used galvanized steel. A welder will not use that for making heated cooking appliance.

 

 galvanized steel and cooking is a bad combination And welding galvanized steel is a health hazord

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On 2/27/2017 at 2:36 PM, kayb said:

The pit belongs to me now, although it's hanging on the wall of the barn up home. Next time I'm up, I plan to bring it home with me.

 

Please post pictures of it when you get it.  I know of other people who have homemade pits...it should be possible, with the right inspiration and place to dig a hole, for us to make something.

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20 hours ago, dcarch said:

Just a quick clarification.

I don't think he used galvanized steel. A welder will not use that for making heated cooking appliance.

 

dcarch

You and @Paul Fink may well be right; it may simply be sheet steel. I was trying to remember as I typed that. I will look, and take a picture, next time I'm up there.

 

Although Daddy could weld anything, up to and including glass.

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      The temperature function was a lot closer to true when simply preheating an empty pan. With a setting of 350F, all the shiny stainless pans heated to just a few degrees higher (about 353-357F) and held there. This is useful for judging the Leidenfrost Point (which is the heat at which you can oil your SS and have it cook relatively nonstick) and potentially for “seasoning” carbon steel, SS and aluminum, but not much else, since it doesn’t translate to actual food temperature. There’s also the issue of the temperature settings *starting* at 285F, so holding a lower temperature for, e.g., tempering chocolate or a sous vide bath, or even a simmer would be by-guess-by-golly just like any other hob—your only resort is lots of experience with lower *power* settings.
       
      With heat-tarnished copper, a 350F setting resulted in a wide swinging between 353F and 365F, which I attribute to the copper shedding heat far faster than the other constructions, once the circuit stops the power at temperature. Then, when the circuit cycles the power back on, the copper is so responsive that it quickly overshoots the setting. Aluminum, on the other hand, *undershot*, the 350F setting, registering a cycle of 332-340F.

      I conclude that the IR sensor is set for some particular emissivity, probably for that of stainless steel. If true, the Panasonic, even though it automatically switches frequencies, does not compensate for the different emissivities of copper and aluminum. And even if Panasonic added dedicated aluminum and copper IR sensors, there is enough difference between dirty and polished that the added cost would be wasted. Bottom line here: the temperature setting mode is of extremely low utility, and should not be trusted.
       
      B. Power Mode – Pan Material Comparisons
       
      Given the differences in power setting granularity and maximum power between the two frequencies, it is difficult to assess what X watts into the pot means in, say, a copper-versus-clad or –disk showdown. What is clear, however, is that Setting X under disk and clad seems “hotter” than the same setting under copper and aluminum.

      I will need to precisely calibrate the Panasonic for wattage anyway for the hyperconductivity project, so I will obtain a higher-powered watt meter to determine the wattage of every power setting for both frequencies. Until then, however, the only way I can fairly handicap a race is to apply a reduction figure to the ferromagnetic setting (2400W being 69% of 3500W). Given that we know the wattage at the maximum settings, we can infer that Setting 14 (actually 13.8) on the 20-step ferromagnetic range iis approximately the same heat output as the maximum setting (18) for copper/aluminum.

      The boil times for 4 liters of 50F water in 10” diameter pots shocked me. The 10” x 3mm tinned copper pot’s water reached 211F in 36:41. Not an especially fast time at 2400 watts. The 10” disk-based pressure cooker bottom? Well, it didn’t make it—it took an hour to get to 208F and then hung there. So that left me wondering if the Panasonic engineers simply decided that 2400 watts was enough for copper and aluminum. I have a theory why the copper pot boiled and the SS one didn’t under the same power, but getting into that’s for another time.

      C. Evenness Comparisons
       
      The wires which generate the induction field are wound in a circular pattern; when energized, they create a torus-shaped magnetic field. The wound coil is constructed with an empty hole at its center. As matters of physics, the magnetic field’s intensity drops off extremely fast as a function of the distance from the coil; a few millimeters above the Ceran, the field is so weak no meaningful heat will be generated. This means that most induction cooktops heat *only* the very bottom of pans, and in a distinct 2-dimensional “doughnut” shape.

      All of the above can result in a pan having a cooler central spot, a hotter ring directly over the coil, and a cooler periphery outside the coil. It is left to the cookware to try to even out these thermal discontinuities when cooking. Some materials and pan constructions are better at this than others: the successful constructions utilize more highly-conductive metals such as aluminum and copper, but unless the material is very thick, there can be a ring-shaped hotspot that can scorch food.
      Until the Panasonic arrived to market, hotspot comparisons between ferromagnetic and aluminum/copper pans depended largely on comparing induction’s flat, more discrete heat ring with gas’s more diffuse, 3-dimensional one. Dodgeball-style debate ensued, with few clear conclusions. But now, for the first time, equally-powered flat heat rings in two different frequencies allow us to directly compare evenness in ferromagnetic and aluminum/copper cookware.

      The simplest and easiest way to assess cookware evenness is the “scorchprint”, which does not require infrared or other advanced thermal imaging equipment. I’ve posted on how to conduct scorchprinting elsewhere, but basically a pan is evenly dusted with flour; heat is applied to the pan bottom. As the flour is toasted, any hotspots visually emerge, giving the viewer a useful general idea of evenness.
       
      I will later post the photos of scorchprints I made of 4 different pans run using the Panasonic KY-MK3500: (1) a Demeyere 28cm Proline 5* clad frypan; (2) a Fissler Original Profi disk-base 28cm frypan; a 6mm aluminum omelet pan; and (4) a 32cm x 3.2mm Dehillerin sauté. To make it a fair race, I heated all the pans at 2400W until they reached 450F, and then backed off the power setting to maintain 450F. I did this in order not to compromise my saute’s tin lining. As you will see, both the clad Demeyere and the disk-based Fissler did print the typical brown doughnut, with a cooler center and periphery. By far the most even was the thick, all-aluminum pan, which actually was even over its entirety—even including the walls. The copper sauté was also quite even, although its larger size and mass really dissipated heat; once 450F was dialed in, no more browning happened, even after 30 minutes.
       
      I conclude that the straightgauge pans were far more effective at shunting heat to their peripheries and walls (and also to some extent into the air) than the clad and disk-based pans. The latter accumulated their heat with most of it staying in the center of the pans. Eventually, even the “doughnut hole” blended into the scorch ring because the walls were not bleeding sufficient heat away from the floor. This was especially pronounced in the Fissler, the high wall and rim areas of which never exceeded 125F. The aluminum pan, in contrast varied less than 30F everywhere on the pan.

      D. Other Considerations

      The Panasonic’s fan noise at the cook’s position was noticeable at 63 dBA, higher than with the VMP’s 57 dBA. These levels are characterized as “normal conversation” and “quiet street”, respectively. Interestingly, I found two other, potentially more important differences. First, the Panasonic’s fan stays on, even after the unit is powered off, whereas the VMP’s fan shuts off immediately when the hob is turned off. Second, the Panasonic’s fan steps down from the louder speed to a much quieter (47 dBA, characterized as “quiet home”) level until the Ceran is cool to sustained touch, at which point it shuts off completely. I think the Panasonic’s ability to continue to vent and cool itself is a great feature, especially since a cook could leave a large, full, hot pan on the glass.

      The glowing circle is useless for gauging heat setting or intensity. And while it works to indicate a hot surface, it remains lit long after you can hold your hand in place dead center.
       
      VI. Summary and Lessons
       
      The Panasonic KY-MK3500 is a solid unit, well-conceived and rugged. It is extremely easy to use. It works well with both the common 24kHz frequency used with ferromagnetic cookware, and the 90kHz frequency chosen here for copper and aluminum. It effectively and automatically switches between the two.

      In my opinion, it points the way to expanding the worldwide induction appliance market to include dual frequencies. It also obviates the need to: (a) junk otherwise excellent cookware merely to have induction; and (b) retrofit designs to bond on ferromagnetic outer layers. In fact, in my opinion, my tests indicate that, in a dual-frequency world, adding ferromagnetic bottoms may well be a drag on pans’ performance.
       
      I also consider the Panasonic Met-All to be ground-breaking in what it can tell us about *pans*, because all metallic pans are now commensurable on induction. Clearly (to me anyway), watt-for-watt, the copper and aluminum pans performed better than did the clad and disk-based pans on this unit. Boil times were faster, there was less propensity to scorch, and the conductive-sidewall pans definitely added more heat to the pans’ contents. We may ultimately find that 90kHz fields save energy compared to 24kHz fields, much as copper and aluminum require less heat on gas and electric coil.
      In terms of heat transfer, the copper and aluminum pans came close to emulating the same pans on gas. And at 2400W/3500W it has the power of a full size appliance in a relatively small tabletop package.
       
      The Panasonic is far from perfect, however. It can’t really be considered portable. There are far too few temperature settings, and what few it has are not accurate or consistent in terms of judging pan contents and attaining the same temperature in different pans (and even the same pan unless clean). The luminous ring could easily have been made a useful indicator of intensity, but wasn’t. And it lacks things that should be obvious, including a through-the-glass “button” contact thermocouple, more power granularity, an analog-style control knob, and capacity to accept an external thermocouple probe for PID control.
       
      Most importantly for me, the Panasonic KY-MK3500 portends more good things to come. Retail price remains $1,700-$2,400, but I jumped on it at $611, and I’ve seen it elsewhere for as low as $1,200.
       
      The manual can be found here: ftp://ftp.panasonic.com/commercialfoo...
       
      Photo Credit:  Panasonic Corporation

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