Equipment designed to produce high-volume cooking has evolved in recent years to become more efficient.
Traditional bulk volume cooking appliances such as boiling, steam and titling kettles, combi steamers (which are covered in a separate section), steamers, steam ovens or steam cookers are usually labelled collectively as steam cooking equipment.
This is slightly misleading since one of the most notable members of the group, the bratt pan, doesn't actually use steam. What they all share is the ability to cook large volumes of food to a high level of consistency.
Steamers have been one of the fastest growth equipment categories, driven by menu trends and the desire for healthier foods. These days "pressureless" models, which cook gently and quickly, tend to be the most popular option. They are well suited for a wide variety of foods, including some frozen products. Because the cabinet is continuously vented and drained of condensation, unwanted flavour transfer from one food product to another is eliminated. Steamers are also effective for reheating cook-chill products.
The boiling kettle or steam-jacketed kettle uses steam to heat many different menu items, including soups, stews, gravies, puddings, sauces, pasta, eggs and rice, and is popular because it is effective, efficient and very forgiving.
Most steam-jacketed kettles consist of a stainless steel hemisphere nestled inside another, larger hemisphere. Steam (under pressure) is introduced into the space between the two, which cooks the food.
There are many different styles, types and sizes of steam-jacketed kettles and they can be either direct steam-heated, which means they operate with steam provided by a remote source, or self-contained, meaning they generate their own steam with an integrated gas or electric steam generator. Floor-mounted models can be tilting and generally have capacities from 75 to 565 litres.
A bratt pan is a large, tilting pan with a stainless steel or cast iron flat griddle plate at the bottom. The sidewalls have a front pouring lip and there is a hinged, stainless steel cover. It can perform many different cooking tasks including braising, pan-frying, grilling, steaming and reduction or liquid cooking. No other piece of cooking equipment can brown or braise large quantities of meat, such as ground beef, faster or more easily.
A bratt pan or tilting skillet can perform many different tasks including braising, pan-frying, grilling, steam and liquid cooking
The bratt pan, braising pan or tilting skillet is hardly new, but it is developing. The latest generation of bratt pans use precise heating technology to take this versatility to new heights.
They can be used for an even greater variety of cooking processes and increasingly sophisticated automatic, self-monitoring controls ensure that even unskilled staff can produce consistent results.
Q I'm a F&B manager in hotel banqueting. Is tilting the only way to transfer product from a bratt pan? Our chef needs more versatility.
A Tangent draw-off valves have become popular options on bratt pans or tilting skillets. As well as providing an alternative for (crank tilt) product transfer, they offer a handy way to drain off grease, while braising or griddle-cooking meats, and an easy way to flush out cleaning water.
Q I'm an executive chef in a newly-built hospital. Our kitchen has limited space and I'm looking for bulk cooking equipment that's also multi-tasking.
A Some manufacturers have steamers that offer both pressurised and pressureless cooking modes. This option not only provides operators with more cooking flexibility, but also allows them to conserve water and energy by using the pressureless mode only when needed.