Our kitchen's maiden voyage/hate my rangetop?

rhome410February 27, 2008

We passed our final inspection today! The house is actually a long way from the actual finish point, but we get to move in, and that's a lot. :-)

Tonight we made our first meal in the new kitchen, using the new Wolf rangetop, my first ever try at cooking on gas. I'm sure it's because it's all new, but I feel a bit scared and disappointed. Some of you know it was my absolute dream to have induction, but with a family the size of ours, I really need a selection of large burners for large pots and pans, which induction doesn't offer...so in went the 8 burner rangetop instead. It looks fantastic and everyone is very impressed by its presence.

The heat and flames are scary. My kids are so used to working near the range, that I'm nervous about them using old habits and having clothing and packaging too near the flames. I worry that we're not used to pan handles getting so hot and someone will get badly burned. (The underside of the wooden grab handle on my wok is now black, but wasn't before tonight.) I worry about the easier possibility of grease fires.

Then there's the cleaning/maintenance issues. I felt like bits of food and spatters went EVERYwhere, but there's no getting to them. I feel like every time I cook anything on the rangetop, I'll have to remove all 8 grates to clean down into each drip pan. This is NOT the way I like to do things. I don't want the cleanup to be such a hassle that people avoid using the appliance or making certain dishes...I also don't want people making things and leaving a big mess for me to find later. I'm so wishing right now I'd found a way to combine 2 induction cooktops, and I'd be able to just wipe away any splatters, crumbs, or wayward pieces of food...and not have to worry about flames, burns, or gas leaks. :-(

I hope you can all reassure me that this will pass and I'll LOVE my enormous and expensive rangetop.


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Ouch! You've always driven an electric golf cart around the island but you need to drive over the bridge and onto the Interstate, you know you need the power so you took the plunge and got your first internal combustion auto: A Ferrari. Everyone is very impressed, and it's very pretty, but man, oh man, is it powerful!! Unexpectedly powerful. And fussy. It needs constant attention or you'll be into the guardrail. The windows are so squinty you're scared you're going to run over the children every time you back out even though you know they've already left for school. And that bright yellow shows every spec, so it always seems dirty after every trip, what with the exhaust dust and pollen and soil in the air that all seem to stick. Why, oh why did you buy a Ferrari???

Oh, yeah. It's one of the best cars ever. It's a home version of what the pros drive. It has more power than you can ever use. And it's SO much fun to drive.

So. Family meeting time. Show the kids the wok and explain an open flame to them. Then show them what it looks like lit. Buy a great big pot lid at a garage sale and put it on the wall by the stove, and buy a fire extinguisher and mount it nearby. Explain fire safety, have family fire drills, have the kids practice smothering a (makebelieve) fire and the routine of using an extinguisher. Check the smoke point of the oils you use and use a candy thermometer in your pan to figure out how high (low) the flame will have to be to keep it under that point.

And be sure you set your flames a tad smaller than your pan. Don't forget to use the simmer for lower temperatures. Use the middle burners for the most spattery stuff. That's the stuff that most needs the hood too, and it keeps the spatter off the counter.

Put a griddle next to where you're cooking if you have a lot of splatter because it's easier to clean than the stove. Keep a kettle on the stove as well. Use a spatter guard. Arrange things so that combustibles aren't near the stove, but flame retardant pot holders and mitts are within easy reach.

Never pour oil or alcohol from the bottle over the open flame. Pour into a prep bowl or measuring cup, or take the pan away from the flames. Teach these things to the kids even if they're not allowed to touch the stove yet.

While it's still pretty clean, take the amazing Wolf rangetop (what I would have gotten if I hadn't learned about induction here) totally apart, clean it, put it totally back together. Repeat, skipping the cleaning step. Repeat. Repeat again. Once you're familiar with it it won't seem as big a deal.

Is that the closed burner version? You say "each drip pan" Either way, the biggest deal is picking up the grates! Consider a part of what makes housework such a good workout :) Once you have your cleaning routine down, it won't seem to be such a chore. But yes, even with my crappy old four burner, the whole thing needs cleaning after each use. Even with the amount of cooking you do, however, I think you could limit it to once or twice a day if nothing really messy happens.

The more you use the burners the less mess there will be. That's why I recommended the kettle above. Think how great it'll be when you're completely moved in and you've really got it going!! Translate this picture to the way you cook: A pot of stock, a kettle, and a pot of chili in the back. A pot of beans, and a tortilla warmer in the front. Three open burners to make a meal on, and the kids can make themselves burritos as they walk by. (Okay, that was my mother's childhood, but you get the idea.)

You're going to LOVE your Ferrari. You're going to be able to make minestrone, braise lamb shanks, saute onions and mushrooms, steam a whole mess of vegetables, and grill cheese sandwiches for lunch, all at the same time.

But going from a golf cart to a Ferrari you're going to need some time to relearn how to drive. At first it's going to seem scary and intimidating. But, next year? Oooh! You'll be at the track every other weekend eager to race!

    Bookmark   February 27, 2008 at 5:14AM
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plllog - What a great analogy! I wish I had read something like your response when I got my first gas stove.

We moved into this house 6 years ago, and the seller negotiated to leave the pro Dacor range with the house. I loved the looks and thought of it, but was scared to use it.

It's dual fuel, so I did bake in the electric oven. But my family still jokes about how I avoided using the cooktop for weeks. I used the microwave, electric pressure cooker, crock pot, Foreman grill.....anything to avoid the scary flames and that tick,tick,tick sound of propane being released before the flame caught!

I finally did what plllog suggested about reading and re-reading the manual and familiarizing myself with the beast. That, and watching how easily DH managed it making Sunday brunches finally gave me courage to work with it.

Now I love, love working on a gas cooktop and considered nothing else for our new build. I envy you your beautiful Wolf, and I bet that in a few months you will love using it.
This is a case where unfamiliarity breeds contempt!

    Bookmark   February 27, 2008 at 7:54AM
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I prefer to coast down country roads myself, but you and your family'll get comfortable with your hot new, uh, stove in short order.

    Bookmark   February 27, 2008 at 7:56AM
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The ticking is the "spark plug" trying to ignite the gas, not the release of the gas itself, BTW.
I went from a apartment-size, low-grade gas range to my GE Monogram, so I was used to flames, but the Monogram really cooks!

    Bookmark   February 27, 2008 at 8:05AM
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I grew up with electric ranges, but I've had a gas range my entire adult life, and I wouldn't have anything else. I have a pretty ordinary GE Profile slide-in, so I don't have the power issues you do (I wish I did!), and clean up is easy because I don't have drip pans. It's "gas on glass" with sealed burners and it cleans up very quickly. Gas is infinitely controllable, and instantly responsive to being turned up or down. There is no lag.

If the handles of your pots are burning, your flame is too big. Choose a smaller ring, or be more careful about centering your pans on the flame.

You'll get used to it! None of my kids went up in flames. I just taught them how to be safe around the stove, and everything was fine.

    Bookmark   February 27, 2008 at 8:19AM
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rhome, it's like everything new in life - it requires a break in period. Even when I buy new underwear I need a day or so to get used to it. rofl. You will love it I'm sure you will. We just went to gas from electric too and it did take me a few days to get used to it. I'm still trying to find the perfect settings for different dishes (I messed up an omelet yesterday) but its just like the first time I cooked an omelet on electric, I had to play around with the settings.

You will love it.

    Bookmark   February 27, 2008 at 8:58AM
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Agree - you'll get used to it! I don't know the Wolf model per se, but I know that on our new (basic, Ford station wagon) GE I have to be more careful with the "power burner" than I did on the old stove, which only had "normal" burners. It's simply a bigger flame and, although I'm very used to cooking with gas, I"ve had to pay more attention to centering the pan and not leaving the wooden spoon in the pot (it got HOT!). So, learning curve even for somebody used to gas.

You WILL get used to it - I bet in 6 months you'll wonder how you managed without it!

    Bookmark   February 27, 2008 at 9:08AM
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Just wanted to chime in: I grew up w/a gas stove. Like everyone has stated, you need to get used to it and teach the kids proper safety. By the way, the only stove where I experienced a grease fire was electric and that was due to high heat w/olive oil...some lessons are learned the hard way and now I keep other oils on hand :-) I've had electric for at least 10 years but I still miss cooking on a gas stove.

    Bookmark   February 27, 2008 at 9:32AM
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I hadn't had a gas range since 1973. Now with this reno we have the Caldera and I have that Ferrari 18K burner on the middle. Whoa baby , hot handles and charred fingers. Like everyone says you will get used to it. I didn't have any little ones to train so can't advise on that but the above advice sounds perfect. I will say that peanut oil is your friend as far as high heat cooking goes. That is why it is used in Chinese restaurants. Good luck and I know I am one of many that can hardly wait to see your wonderful finished kitchen. Caroline

    Bookmark   February 27, 2008 at 9:44AM
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I have to chime in here cuz I'm the same way when it comes to using new things; excited and petrified at the same time! Somehow I keep forgetting that "the new" will soon enough become "the familiar" and I will be using those new things comfortably before too long. It's just way too easy to become overwhelmed when using something new the for the first time or ten!

You will find that you don't need to use the burners at full blast for most things. Also, I found that I had a ton of splattering when using my old Farberware, Reverware, and Tools of the Trade skillets/fry pans on my Wolf range, and a lot of burnt on stuff in the pans themselves. I treated myself over the holidays to some All-Clad pieces, and there is a noticeable difference when using heavier, more solid, clad cookware (less splattering, though I do still have some if I have the flame too high, and stuff around the bottom edges of the pans don't burn).

As for the Wolf clean-up, yeah, it can certainly be a PITA at times. Once you get a routine down though, it's not too bad. I'd asked at the Wolf/SZ showroom what to use for spot cleaning without smears and streaks. They suggested Perfect Kitchen (it's carried at BB&B). It does a decent enough job for minor splatters and such, much better than the other stuff I've tried. For a good cleaning, I take off the grates and clean them in the sink (2 at a time), and then place them upside down on some paper towels on the counter. I then remove the black enamel burner pans, one at a time, wash them in the sink, and dry them with an ordinary dishtowel (if I need to, or feel like it, I'll go over any finger smudges with a dry microfiber). Then I just pop the parts back on the range. It's been recommended on GW to use Dawn Power Dissolving Gel (spray) to remove burnt on/baked in grease and crud and I agree that it works pretty well. When I take apart the top pieces to wash them, I'll spray them with the Dawn, and let them sit a little while, and then "scrub" them with a blue scrub sponge (the all-purpose, no-scratch kind) in the sink and rinse well. Really stubborn spots might need to sit longer. The only things I don't clean unless something's dripped on them, are the burner rings themselves. I'll give them a wipe when I'm cleaning, but don't feel the need to scrub them regularly, but, that's just me.

Give it time, and you will start to enjoy using all your new things. One day it will suddenly hit you how at home you feel and then it will really feel like your kitchen!

    Bookmark   February 27, 2008 at 9:52AM
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Wow that is quite a cooking space! Congrats on being in
and I'm sure everyone will feel comfortable soon enough!

Can't wait to see more and get the details...best of luck!

    Bookmark   February 27, 2008 at 9:56AM
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Wow, so many responses already this morning (it's still fairly early here where we are). Thanks to you all. I know my immediate response to the stove is just that...immediate. After 1 time and after a big day. It's that fear that you've made some huge, expensive mistake you'll pay for (literally and figuratively) for the next few decades. I keep thinking about how many people have these things and love them, and how everyone told me I would love changing to gas. (It's the open burner Wolf for those wondering) I promise to keep trying...

DH promises to get at hanging cabinet doors and putting on drawer fronts. I want to get started on backsplash...So I hope I will be showing you pictures soon! It may take a couple weeks.

I went from a ceramic top to the last 2 years on an old coil range (yuck)...and I was/am afraid this is just a bigger, heavier version of the latter. Thanks, cat mom, for the product recommendations, and, Plllog, wow...Thanks so much for all of those great tips and all the time you took. Thanks to everyone else for the encouragement...It really helps.

    Bookmark   February 27, 2008 at 10:50AM
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I grew up w/gas but have had electric all my adult life and yes, I do miss the gas. But, alas, we do not have gas out here and we didn't want to go with liquid propane.

My parents raised 6 kids (2 less than you!) and I don't remember anyone getting burned on the flame and I only recall one grease fire which was put out, as I recall, pretty quickly.

I echo others' comments...give it time. Change isn't easy, even when we're looking forward to it. We humans tend to stick to what we know!

    Bookmark   February 27, 2008 at 11:25AM
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We love ours ... but I love it more now that I've stopped worrying about the drip pans looking "used" (I basically do what cat_mom does to clean things -- I usually take the drip trays down to a large utility sink in the basement where they can soak well ... some spots never come off, I've just stopped worrying about it and settle for having the stainless and front panel nice and shining and the burner areas looking like someone actually cooks on them). One of the servicemen who came out (we had quite a few service calls on ours, I'm sorry to report!) said he LIKES to see them when the drip pans and grates aren't spotless -- he said he sees all too many in kitchens that are still spotless after several years and he knows those are the folks who just have the things for show, they don't actually COOK.

Don't know if you have propane or natural gas ... we have propane, and I found the flame at ignition scary. Then one of the service guys suggested just leaving it in the ignition position (the "click-click-click" ) EVER so briefly, then turning the knob all the way to low. The burner will still light, just with a nice, LOW flame, not with a big boom of flame (propane leads to more of this than natural gas, I'm told). My kids are grown, but I still worry about anyone not used to the rangetop trying to use it (so I always step in to light it for them, unless I know they have used it before).

The other thing we found (perhaps they've improved this since we got ours in 2005?) is that the little rubber feet on the grates will incinerate after a very short time. Wolf happily sent me a little bag of replacements, but could not explain in this age of space-age materials, why they didn't make those little feet of some heat-resistant material.

And I agree that you will get used to using it and will LOVE it after you do! We do resort to covering adjoining spaces with aluminum foil when we're cooking something REALLY messy -- I just keep the large pieces of foil in one of the pots drawers and reuse them until they get too greasy. Kind of low-tech but it works. I would never, ever, EVER cook on an electric range again (we do a lot of wok cooking too). There is something basic and essentially satisfying, for me, in cooking with a flame. I'm sure I'll have induction some day (will I have to throw out all my All-Clad pots??) but somehow, I don't think it'll feel quite the same...

    Bookmark   February 27, 2008 at 11:26AM
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I have to agree with all above saying keep it up, you'll like it. After some trial-error phase figuring out how high the flame etc. ...

About cleaning: I grew up in a house with gas stove. My mom had a rule -- wipe the stove top (and countertops) everytime you do dishes, which was once a day for us. It's just a part of doing dishes, not a separate chore for us. We didn't clean it right after cooking unless it was a big mess and even then you need to wait until the stuff cools down. Our stove was always clean but well used :)

    Bookmark   February 27, 2008 at 11:52AM
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I think one of the weird things for me is to not really have a stove 'top'...it's all caged in by the grates. I kept dropping little dices of veggies (or worse, little pieces of raw meat that missed the pan) last night and couldn't pick them up...either too close to the heat or too hard to reach...and I could see the grease spatters everywhere, which I'm used to being easy to clean up. I did order a cast iron griddle awhile back that I figured would live on the stove. Time to get it out. Maybe I need two... ;-)

I never hear about gas stove top injuries, so millions of people must be using them safely...But I watched my 8 yo scoot by last night, her hair right about flame level...Ok, she's not that short, but it seemed close, and the flame and heat seem so close to the front edge. We said we needed a gate to stop traffic from going between the island and stove while its on. Not too convenient for the cook, though.

Good tip, CTLady, about the ignition. We do have propane and the mini explosion is always a bit of a jolt.

    Bookmark   February 27, 2008 at 12:04PM
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I throw my grates in the DW when they start looking grimy and they come out spotless. I know the manual discourages this but it works very well for me . . . As for the burner bowl trays, I use hot, slightly soapy water on a wrung-out microfiber cloth to wipe up any grease, etc. after cooking. If it's really bad (i.e. bacon, etc.), I'll spray some Fantastik on the trays and wipe it up with the microfiber cloth, then buff. As someone said, the biggest part of the job is the heavy lifting with the grates but aren't you glad they're solid and not flimsy? Once every week (or two), I take out the burner trays and wash them in the sink. Occasionally I pull off the knobs and wash them in dishwater.

I agree that there is a break-in/adjustment period with new appliances and maybe especially so with something like the Wolf. I remember thinking it was hard to clean at first but I don't feel that way at all now (and I'm a very enthusiastic and frequent cook who likes for things to look/remain pristine). The best thing about the Wolf (IMO) in this regard is that you can let it go and it won't look "terrible" but you can also clean it up where it looks sparkling and new.

I also had to adjust to the burners' firepower. I love gas anyway (and missed it in our interim housing with an electric smoothtop range) so I was very happy and grateful to get back to cooking with it but I did have to adjust to the massive firepower. I agonized between Bluestar and Wolf and felt I had "settled" for "just" 17K btu burners but now I can't imagine needing 22K burners as mine get quite hot enough, thank you. You will learn to watch the flame level and adjust accordingly to fit your pans and cooking needs. I use high power very seldom, mostly for boiling water for pasta in a giant stockpot. I don't even use the high setting to boil water in the teakettle (and it boils quickly). I hope that you learn to love your rangetop the way that I love and appreciate my stove. It was a splurge for us and I thank my husband often for my favorite feature in our new kitchen. It's a joy to cook on. Best wishes in the new kitchen!

    Bookmark   February 27, 2008 at 12:20PM
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Re things that fall through, there's really nothing you can do. They're gone. But you can prevent a lot of the falls. I haven't tried one of the new folding cutting boards, but they look like a great way not to have those dices falling overboard. Especially for the meat, which is more precious, it would help to put it in a bowl--or a batter bowl!--before adding it. Then aim for the center of the pan and maybe use two hands :) (That is, one easing the bowl contents into the pan.) And definitely crack eggs into a prep bowl instead of over the flames :)

Even the people I know who cook with long chopsticks just let the ones that fall through the cracks go. They get charred and burn up. But that's the way it's supposed to be :)

    Bookmark   February 27, 2008 at 12:44PM
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OK, plllog, so you want me to actually do things *right*! Hurried and lazy won't cut it any more? Why didn't someone warn me? ;-D I'll just have to get little bowls and pitchers and pretend I'm on a cooking show...

Thanks, zoenipp. I can't imagine needing more firepower, either. I am beginning to understand, though, why people prefer the rougher gray underparts of the BlueStar over the shiny black Wolf pans. I thought they'd be easier to keep clean, but they just show off more of what's on them. So I'm getting that I should learn to love the streaky, spattered look, and consider it along the same lines of 'patina?'

I just wiped out the stove and can see that the grates will actually look better over time as they get dirtier. Wish the black shiny stuff could say the same.

    Bookmark   February 27, 2008 at 12:56PM
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Rhome410, congrats on moving in! And your kitchen is looking spectacular, quite an impressive cooktop! I'm sorry your not loving the cooktop yet.

I never had a super powered gas stove before so I can't say for sure, but if your handles are getting brown the flame is too big. Maybe pick a smaller burner or turn the one you have down.

I grew up with electric, but when moving into our house 14 years ago we had an old open burner gas stove. To clean I wiped down the top part then the whole thing lifted to clean the drip pan below (one drip pan for all four burners). I acutally found it easier to clean than the sealed burner Hotpoint range (similar to divamum's Ford station wagon) that we got when the old one kicked the bucket. I'm now going back to an open burner range (antique).

About the children, I don't have as many as you, but I have two DD's 7 and 2. They both help me cook on the gas range. I taught them if they see blue flame it's on and not to touch. When they were toddlers I had knob covers to prevent them from turning on the gas without it igniting. Now that they are older they are still not allowed to turn it on and I don't let them cook when I've got a big pot of pasta boiling on the stove. Too much boiling water makes me nervous.

I would definatly sit your kids down and go over the rules for the new cooktop, and repeat as necessary :) And as far a cooking goes you'll get used to the power and how a gas stove works and I'm sure you'll love it!

    Bookmark   February 27, 2008 at 12:59PM
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rhome410 -- To me, gas is just so much more fun to cook with (grew up with electric; will never go back). Did you get the sealed or open burners on the rangetop? We are very close to getting the 6-sealed burner version of yours. We currently have GE Profile gas, which is supereasy to clean, so I'm hoping the Wolf won't be too much more difficult. Good luck!

    Bookmark   February 27, 2008 at 2:02PM
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I've cooked on gas most of my life and my DCS still took some getting used to. On my old ranges I was used to cranking it up, but on the DCS I really had to learn how low to keep the burners most of the time. Except for boiling water and stir frying, I rarely turn a burner up more than halfway.

I know cleaning of sealed vs. open burners is always controversial, but hearing you talk about cleaning reinforces the fact to me that sealed burners are so much easier to clean.

The thought of lugging drip pans and burner pans and grates to the sink does not appeal to me. After cooking, I wipe up the cooktop in place with a little Fantastic or BKF if necessary, then I wipe up the grates in place and I'm done. Occasionally, I wash the burner caps and burner rings in the sink, but most times it's not necessary. YMMV.

    Bookmark   February 27, 2008 at 2:18PM
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Jean Popowitz

Congrats on moving in! I did not read all the replies (but loved the car analogy) so excuse me if someone already pointed out that there would be a learning curve with induction too. Enjoy!

    Bookmark   February 27, 2008 at 2:38PM
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Rhome, congrats on moving in! I think you'll love it. I've wanted gas again but have been cooking on the worst electric tops for 8-9 years before thie remodel. It took a little adjustig to gas eventhough I'd been cooking on it before. But after a few days I had to laugh at how amazing it was that I had been able to cook on those old electric tops. You'll get the hang of it -- and assume that nearly everything will cook at mid flame or lower until you learn when to use more. Don't start on hight to get ot going like you might an electric.

For cleaning the black surface, I found that iping it out with a damp sponge and then using a squirt of Pledge multi or all surface spray cleaner and a paper towel gets the streaks or spots left behind. SOmetimes I use only water -- the spray when we have folks coming over or I feel like it.

Remember that you would have had adjustment to a different electric top or induction also. I was too concerned about some of the cooking that I do damaging the surface of an induction to go that route -- pitting and such. I'd rather clean up charred bits of food than damage the cooktop.

I think you'll love it.

    Bookmark   February 27, 2008 at 2:47PM
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Thanks again for all the support. I just know us, and smooth ceramic (with speckles to hide the fingerprints and smears) that doesn't get stuff burned on is just our cleaning style! We were used to that (with the exception of things burning on) and really liked it. I've been busy in the house, so the kids have taken over tasks in the mobile home, and things have gotten a bit sloppy. I didn't even know you could get enough stuff in a burner pan that it would actually catch on fire! But now I have proof, several times over. Of course, a lot of that is that there is so little counter space in the mh, so they used the rangetop as part of the counter when not on, and didn't clean out crumbs, flour, etc that sifted down through the burners. So, among many other things, I have to teach them that the rangetop is no longer the only work area in the kitchen. We had sundaes last night and they served them out right next to the stove with everyone standing on top of each other. I guess they got used to the 'togetherness!'

I was aware that I shouldn't start everything on high and was careful to watch to make sure I was using the heat level for our stirfry that was effective and no more. I think maybe the handle burned because of the shape of the pan? I don't know. I am certain no flames came up the side to do it. Of course, we're not your typical stir-fryers...It takes several batches to make enough, so the pan is over the heat for a LONG time.

You all are great.

    Bookmark   February 27, 2008 at 5:25PM
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This little moral is my contribution to education.

I was 24 I think, when we bought a small townhouse with a gas range. I had never seen gas. After about two days, I picked up the iron grid with my bare hand not long enough after boiling water on the burner. I was so house proud and wanted to clean it.

I was used to electric coil ones where the much thinner burner element would cool off quickly. Second and third degree burns on that hand. Luckily, I dropped it. I say that cause the shock was substantial and I did it on automatic pilot.

So the moral is "ALWAYS use a hot pad on a burner grate".

I kept on with gas and once I figured cooking out again, I came to really like it and would not go back. Even tho I melted my favorite tea kettle when I was starting out, I still do. You will too!

    Bookmark   February 27, 2008 at 7:20PM
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Rhome, really really I didn't mean you had to do things "right." :D Just ways of keeping stuff from falling through :) Believe me, if there's a way to lose it under the grates I've done it!! New "lazy" way? Let it burn! The eggshell bits and drips from cracking eggs against the pan are the worst, though.

Re the wok, it probably is the shape. Traditional ones don't have the helper handles, probably because of the flames coming up the sides. But just think! You can get a few of those authentic Chinese cheap woks and have them all going at once!

    Bookmark   February 27, 2008 at 7:37PM
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Yep -- we use a work (just the two metal handles on the top edge) all the time with our Wolf and have no problems (though I DID lust after that separate wok burner option at the time we did the remodel!)

We lose bits (especially chopped veggies) into the drip trays all the time -- they generally incinerate pretty thoroughly pretty fast, but I do make sure to clean those up as soon as the surface cools enough.

(Alternatively, just serve 'em up with a little restaurant-speak: "organic field greens with our own Cajun-style blackened vegetables" ;)

    Bookmark   February 27, 2008 at 7:50PM
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You guys are cracking me up. I think that laughing (while being cautious) is the best way to approach this new challenge. I will remember to let it burn or the Cajun 'restaurant-speak'! Thankfully, no one here has the habit of breaking eggs on the pans...So one thing I don't have to retrain!

I will try to learn from your educational experience, Bmorepanic, and not have a similar one of my own. I have lots of hot pads to buy.

I have Belgique cookware that I got for use on the ceramic smoothtop. It has the heavy aluminum disk bottom. I thought they were a pretty big splurge at the time. (I think they were $250 for a whole set.) Of course I thought the $1100 JennAir ceramic top range was very upscale, too. They still look new after 10+ years. It surprises me to say they're that old, because I still think of them as my 'new' pots and pans. Are these going to suit my new needs? I also have some new Lodge Logic skillets and a griddle/grill, but I've never cooked with cast iron before, and I'm sensing another new learning curve there. So maybe I should leave them put away awhile...Except the spatter-guarding griddle, of course.

    Bookmark   February 27, 2008 at 10:42PM
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I love cooking with cast iron skillets on a gas range -- if your Lodge Logic is new, I think it's pre-seasoned (so you don't have to deal with the whole seasoning ritual) I vaguely think that's all Lodge makes now...? The heat distribution is terrific. Whenever I need a really reliable pan, I pass over my All-Clad (reluctantly) and my lone (but prized) Scanpan skillets and reach for one of my $10 cast iron ones. They are the workhorses of my kitchen (those and the big Calphalon "Everyday pan" which no one should be without!) Just be sure to dry cast iron WELL after washing -- I always set mine on a low burner to heat gently to dry out but you could also just wipe it dry really well.

Bmorepanic -- a few years ago, I finally got an electric tea kettle for Christmas (with a tag that said it was from the local fire department! ;) So no more melted/charred/otherwise disabled tea kettles (and believe me, I've had plenty!) ... I LOVE the auto shutoff (and so does my smoke alarm!)

    Bookmark   February 27, 2008 at 11:04PM
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Easy way to clean and season cast iron:

Wash as thoroughly as you want. Put on the stove on LOW and heat it lightly until it's 100% dry. DON'T TURN YOUR BACK ON IT. You don't want to burn the poor thing. Or just heat it until it's hot when you put your hand over it and turn it off and let the rest of the moisture evaporate.

Once it's dry and while it's still warm brush or spray it lightly with oil.

If you've scrubbed the living heck out of it you might need to heat and oil it a few times to build back the seasoning.

Just don't let anyone try to talk you out of cleaning your cast iron because they say it'll rust or you'll lose the seasoning. It won't rust if it's dry, and it's not all that hard to season it.

    Bookmark   February 27, 2008 at 11:20PM
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Something that helped me with the transition a product called Kitchen Grips. The 2 piece Euro-handle holder set is perfect for pots with to small side handles. I leave them on the pots while I cook and they don't get hot. They make another one for knobs on pot lids but I like these ones for pot lids too. I think the handle sleeve set would be good for long handles too, but I already got silicon handle covers. This is cheaper than new pots and should help adapt some of your existing pots.

Another thing is a bigger wok - we transitioned to using 14 and 16" woks. Helps with keeping splatter in the wok and with keeping the handles farther from the heat.

Here is a link that might be useful: Kitchen grips

    Bookmark   February 27, 2008 at 11:45PM
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Our wok is already 14"... ;-)

The Kitchen Grips look great and I'll keep my eye out for handle covers, too. --The grips won't fall off and end up mixing with my Cajun veggies in the flames?

The pans are Lodge Logic. I figured I really didn't want to fight the seasoning thing...Just wanted to start cooking!

    Bookmark   February 28, 2008 at 2:32AM
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If what you have is Lodge Logic, the pieces come pre-seasoned (I remember Ruth Reichl ranting, for lack of a better term, about this last spring -- urged everyone to go out and buy up the old original Lodge since she said she'd rather season her own pans her own way, thank you very much!) I don't have any so I don't know quite what that means, but I'd read whatever info you have for them (or check out the Lodge link below) before you season. Pllog's advice is absolutely correct for regular ("original"?) cast iron (and right, too, that the key to no rust is not to let them sit around with water drops or a not-quite dry utensil in them -- just dry well, or set over a low flame for a minute or two to be sure they are dry).

But it IS wonderful stuff to cook with -- you'll love it!

Here is a link that might be useful: Lodge cast iron

    Bookmark   February 28, 2008 at 9:40AM
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I'd suggest you go to 16". I love using the 16" on my big BlueStar burner. I also just read the part where you said you have to do the stir fry in several batches to make enough. With 16" and a powerful burner, I can make a really large stir fry at one go. Now that you have a range with high power burners, try increasing your batch size to the point where you need the heat to be on high.

I'm rather surprised that your handle blackened with a 14". The wood handles on my large woks don't get hot.

The grips stay on the handles nicely. The inside is something like neoprene so it has some friction even with a smooth pot handle. I found mine at a Le Creuset outlet store.

Your cookwear with a heavy aluminum disk bottom should work well on your gas cooktop.

    Bookmark   February 28, 2008 at 10:11AM
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Don't be afraid to use cast iron pans. You can't ruin them! I'm still using my great-grandmother's cast iron pans, what other pan can you say that with!

If they get a little rust just use a wire brush to get rid of the lose stuff, clean with a little soap and water, coat with oil inside and out (any oil will do), I use a paper towl to swish around the oil, then stick it in the oven at 200 degrees overnight. You may have to do it twice, but it's really easy.

To clean, scrub the pan with a scrubber and running water, maybe a little soap if necessary, just so the crusty stuff is off (don't over clean) then dry with a paper towel. Then put a little oil in that paper towel and wipe the pan down with the oiled towel.

Also cast iron pans like to be used, so the more you use them the better they get. The old problem is boy the big ones get heavy when full.

    Bookmark   February 28, 2008 at 10:16AM
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I do pretty big stir fry batches at once, but for 10, it still takes a couple panfuls of meat, and usually 3 of veggies. I don't know that I've seen a 16" wok...I'm sure I got the largest I could find at the time, so I'll keep looking. There is a LeCreuset outlet store about 2 hours away that I've wanted to go to for a long time, but haven't made it yet.

It took us so long to get the seasoning right on our wok (people kept soaking it and scrubbing it with soap and cleanser), that I went for the pre-seasoned Lodge Logic. Of course, I think I finally have them trained about caring for the wok...maybe...So, hopefully, they'll treat the cast iron kindly.

Mom2lilenj, one of my skillets is 15" or 15 1/2". Even empty it could be my weight-lifting workout!

    Bookmark   February 28, 2008 at 11:16AM
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You can get a 16" wok at the wok shop - I've ordered from them - great place

Here is a link that might be useful: The Wok Shop

    Bookmark   February 28, 2008 at 11:42AM
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rhome, LOL that's the same size as my big skillet. An yes it's very heavy. It's a challenge to dump it's contents into a bowl. I don't think I'm THAT weak, but I can't hold it with one hand and scrape with the other. So what I do is hold it with both hands while trying to dump as much in the bowl I can, then put down, scrape, try to dump again, then give up and scoop out the rest.

Maybe I ought to lift more weights....DH doesn't seem to have any trouble holding with one hand and scraping with the other.

    Bookmark   February 28, 2008 at 1:21PM
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I'll check that out, Weissman, thanks.

Mom2lilenj, I can't even lift it with one hand when it's empty. This is one of the many times it pays to have helpers hanging around the kitchen...I can hold the pan with 2 hands while someone else scrapes.

    Bookmark   February 28, 2008 at 6:49PM
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Are you kind of a worrier by nature? It sounded like maybe you are by that initial post. Do you worry about things that never really go wrong? I have a tendency to do that. If that's the case for you maybe you will find it in yourself to quit worrying about the big new rangetop and just enjoy it.

    Bookmark   February 28, 2008 at 7:58PM
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I can be a worrier at times. I think, though, that I would be a bit remiss not to worry about new potential dangers with 8 young, sometimes impulsive/independent sort of kiddos moving about me. Because I can't see and closely supervise them all at once, I have to be ahead of what they may do or think! They are used to diving in and trying things on their own, but I was feeling this was a situation to approach with more caution, and knew it would be tough to rein them back.

But part of the problem with my first post was just pure exhaustion after a very stressful day, and the initial 'Did I choose the right thing?' panic. In addition, the kids were very excited to use the new stove, I was not feeling safe or in my comfort zone, and they were very active around me and it...It made me nervous.

As far as worrying about things that don't really go wrong, not being at all familiar with gas, I didn't know if my fears were unreasonable or not, and thought I'd throw them out there and see what people said. (I was actually kind of hoping someone would tell me I was just being neurotic!) I knew I should give it more of a chance before whining, but all the input has been VERY helpful...Some good advice about things I hadn't even considered. So, too much of a worrier or not, I have to be glad I posted! :-)

    Bookmark   February 28, 2008 at 8:36PM
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By the way, one thing to caution your crew about - if you leave a utensil in a pot, especially a metal handled one, the handle of that can become hot - not perhaps hot enough to cause a serious burn but enough to hurt or cause a minor one. I've had to be more diligent about taking the stirring spoon out of the pot and putting it on a plate. Never happened with my very old smoothtop - of course, with the old smoothtop I could barely get the pan contents to boil so this is a big improvement. Not something to worry too much about but let them know. Sometimes I put one of the silicon pot handle covers on the end of the utensil.

We got our 16" woks at the Wok Shop too - we were able to visit in person and the owner was very helpful. Or if you have a local Chinatown area, they may have a grocery or a restaurant supply store that has the bigger woks. Even a regular restaurant supply may have them. If you don't have one, a wok spatula (shaped like a shovel with a wok curved edge) is very helpful to managing large batches of food in the wok and getting them out when cooked. I use it when I want to get food out with a sauce and a big brass skimmer when I want the food to drain as it is pulled out.

Our family isn't nearly as big - 4 adults live here, but I can do stir fry in the wok that feeds us dinner one night with enough leftovers for another night in one batch so you might try increasing your quantities per batch now that you have a more powerful burner.

I hope you are already feeling a bit more comfortable with your stove. It looks like you have a nice big hood and metal backsplash both of which should reduce your worries about fire getting where it shouldn't. I'm not generally a worrier but when my kids or now my grandchild are concerned, I make an exception so I understand where you are coming from. My husband is being very insistent that flammable stuff should never be left on our rangetop - especially now that our granddaughter is starting to walk because he worries that she might someday turn on a burner.

Here is a link that might be useful: Wok shovel/spatula

    Bookmark   February 28, 2008 at 10:08PM
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Bu-Bye trailer, Hello dream home!!!

Congrats on moving in Rhome; you've had a long haul. Give the rangetop some time to get used to it. I bet you'll be loving it in no time.

    Bookmark   February 28, 2008 at 10:37PM
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Thanks, Cloudswift, for even more helpful info (I don't have a wok spatula), and to you, Alku05, for the good wishes. I am over the initial panic, I think. I realized, in the calmer, quieter light of day that taking it apart to wipe out the drip pans isn't that big a deal. (The worst mess in them is the construction dust that keeps circling our little world here.) Tonight our 13 yo cooked pancakes on the cast iron griddle, our 11 yo stirred up a pan of scrambled eggs, and our 19 yo did a stir fry for those of us who can't live on fluffy carbs.

We have yet to try out our F&P oven, other than heating it up empty for awhile last weekend. I'll have to think of something to test it out...

Back to woks for a minute: If I'm getting a bigger wok, do I still want a flat bottomed one like I already have? After the burned handle, I wondered if I should just stir fry in a saute pan like I used to.

    Bookmark   February 29, 2008 at 1:28AM
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I have the 36"D/F range and I totally understand where you are coming from. Mine is 3 mo. old. LOVE the way it works and cooks and bakes etc, etc, but, I feel like I am cleaning the range top every other day. Every time my DH decides to cook I roll my eyes. I try so hard NOT to get grease everywhere. I guess this is just a thing we will have to live with for owning this wonderful range.
I did buy a screen top for the fry pans and I THINK it helps a little.
FYI, I found the vinegar Windex works the best with the everyday cleaning of the range top.
All said, I LOVE my Wolf!!!!

    Bookmark   February 29, 2008 at 8:05AM
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If you do a lot of wok cooking, you might also want to consider the wok ring that Wolf offers (a different grate -- you sub it out for one of the regular grates when you want to stir-fry). We ordered it when we ordered the rangetop and it's wonderful (but better if you DON'T have a flat-bottom wok, since it's designed to "cup" a traditional wok (and allow the flame closer to the actual wok surface on the bottom). It helps to keep the wok stable and the bowl of it closer to the flame (we had one for our gas Dacor cooktop in our other home, too, and loved it).

Here is a link that might be useful: Wok ring for Wolf range

    Bookmark   February 29, 2008 at 9:12AM
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Generally people use round bottom woks on gas ranges and flat bottomed woks on electric ranges but that's not a hard and fast rule. In fact, in the book "The Breath of a Wok", I believe they recommend using a flat bottom wok. I have both - a 16" round wok and my old 14" flat bottomed wok and generally I prefer the 14" wok although that may be because it's more manageable not necessarily because it's flat bottomed.

    Bookmark   February 29, 2008 at 9:20AM
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What kind are you all using? I found a lot of recommendations for carbon steel when I got my last one, so that's what it is. I see The Wok Shop also has stainless and cast iron...Is carbon steel still my best bet, or do you prefer something else?

    Bookmark   February 29, 2008 at 4:00PM
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Mine are carbon steel.

    Bookmark   February 29, 2008 at 4:15PM
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Most people I know (I don't wok enough for a valid opinion) really prefer the cheap hammered woks you get in Chinatown, which I think are carbon steel. They're more lightweight and apparently cook better, besides being a lot cheaper than the fancy ones.

    Bookmark   February 29, 2008 at 5:19PM
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Mine's carbon steel, too. Had it for years and I'm sure we got it in some city's Chinatown, wherever we were at the time (I don't let ANYONE else clean it!! :) I also have a stainless one that I use only for the bamboo steamers.

    Bookmark   February 29, 2008 at 5:58PM
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Thanks again, everyone!

    Bookmark   February 29, 2008 at 6:10PM
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Definitely get the round bottom carbon steel. One needs a flat bottom with electric cooktops to get good heat transfer, but that is a compromise as the stir frying movement of food is much easier with a round bottom. That's what Breath of the Wok says and that's my experience too.

We like the round bottom wok so much that it is the tool we usually grab for sauteing even if it isn't an Asian stir fry.

Browning action suppose to be better with a seasoned carbon steel than with stainless. Cast iron woks are generally a much thinner cast iron than cast iron skillets (if they weren't they would be way too heavy) so they can be a bit fragile.

The flat bottom vs round bottom may also be why you find you can't stir fry quite as much at once.

    Bookmark   March 2, 2008 at 11:54AM
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Not to keep the thread sidetracked, but in preparation for getting new cookware for my Wolf DF...

Is there a downside to the porcelain coated cast iron, other than potential chipping? I assume heat retention would be comparable, but is there something I'm not considering as far as the cooking ability of cast iron vs. porcelain coated cast iron?

    Bookmark   March 2, 2008 at 12:08PM
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I'm glad you said that, Cloud Swift. I just picked up a 16" round bottom carbon steel wok at a restaurant supply store yesterday. Unfortunately, they didn't have a wok spatula. I also bought a ring, but it's almost too small, so I'm sure a Wolf wok grate would be better...although I'm also sure it'll be a bit more than $5.49! Now for the seasoning...

    Bookmark   March 2, 2008 at 12:21PM
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Just wanted to chime in - I'm stuck in temporary housing with an electric stove and can't wait to get back to gas - Adjusting the heat to where you want it is so easy once you get used to it because it's so visual. You'll love it soon! Some small recommendations - If a pot or handle is really hot after it's been taken off the range, put a dishtowel on the handle as a signal for yourself and everyone else (applies to all ranges) - If your cast iron is only lightly soiled, clean it with 1-2 tsp each oil and kosher salt using a paper towel to work the salt into the pan as a mild abrasive. Just wipe out the salt into the garbage when you're done. It's quicker than washing w/water in many cases and helps maintain the seasoning (I still always use water after cooking higher fat fish because otherwise I swear I can taste the fish oil in the next dish cooked.) - It's hard to tell for sure from your picture, but depending on your grates, occasionally, fallen bits of food can be picked up by a pair of spring-loaded tongs depending upon how and where they fall; the thin plastic cutting boards are great for putting food into the pan, but waxed paper, parchment or foil can be used in a pinch, foil can even be cleaned & reused. I too like the carbon steel woks, especially since you now have the BTU's to keep it hot enough.

Hope at least one of these helps - your posts have been really helpful for me!

    Bookmark   March 3, 2008 at 1:29AM
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Thanks for the tips and encouragement, ChefKev. All are helpful and appreciated! I am adjusting a bit. Even pan fried some chicken in my big cast iron skillet today!

We moved our dining room table in this evening, so it's the first time we all get to sit around our table together in 2 years. To celebrate that and being past the appraisal we have tomorrow afternoon, we're having steak...Any good recommendations for pans and methods for that? :-) With the electric ranges I've had before, I either used the outdoor grill or the oven broiler with mixed results.

    Bookmark   March 3, 2008 at 2:21AM
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We love our All-Clad grill pan -- steaks come out wonderfully moist and tender. I expect any good quality stovetop grill pan will work well. Main difference we found was square versus round (we got round, and I think I can fit more in it that way). (Also a great price on Amazon, which is where we got ours.)

Here is a link that might be useful: All-Clad stovetop grill pan

    Bookmark   March 3, 2008 at 9:50AM
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Thanks, again, ctlady. I will try to find the closest thing I have to that for tonight...My griddle will flip to a grill pan, so that could work. --But I remember reading a recommendation against using both sides, because when you use it for a griddle, the grill side will smoke, so I'm not sure. I got it mostly to be a griddle and a flat surface to utilize on the stovetop, never really intending to use the grill side.

    Bookmark   March 3, 2008 at 11:27AM
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Grill pans are great for steaks, but so are cast iron skillets. For a really great indoor steak: Preheat your oven to about 350, get your pan good and hot, season it lightly with oil, season meat, place in pan and sear or grill for about 2 minutes per side (until nicely browned or good grill marks). Remove pan from burner and place in oven til desired doneness (timing will depend thickness of steak). Use touch method or my favorite, a probe thermometer placed sideways in the center of the steak. 105 degrees = rare, 110 = med rare, 115 = med. This is the temp right when it comes out of the pan - it will carry-over cook to the correct end temperature. (If you're going to cook it more than medium, I don't want to know about it, but for God sakes don't go over 120.) Remember to allow it to rest loosely covered for 3-7 min depending on size of steak. This gives the juices a chance to reabsorb back into the steak so that when you cut into it, the juices don't all go onto your cutting board or plate. The advantage of finishing the steak in the oven is that the lower temperature means the steak will tighten up less towards the end and therefore stay juicier. This should also mean it is pink or red all the way through the middle and not just in the very center. Experienced grillers achieve this same effect my moving the meat to a cooler zone on the grill once it has good grill marks. Take thin steaks off right away though or they'll be overdone. If you are so motivated, a great pan sauce can be made from the drippings and brown bits in the pan and reducing a little bit of wine while the steak is resting. If your doctor isn't already spazzing about your cholesterol (like mine currently is), a little butter swirled in at the very end along with your herb of choice makes it even better.

    Bookmark   March 4, 2008 at 2:20AM
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Thank you, Chefkev!...Wish I'd known all this last night, because I made a couple mistakes. I'd never cooked such thick steaks before, and remembered there is a 'start on the grill/stove, then finish in the oven' method, but didn't know the details. I started them on our grill pan, but for more than a couple minutes. By the way...What about the sides of thick steaks, do you worry about searing them? Anyway, then I moved them to the bottom of our broiler pan and put them in a hotter oven (450, I think) for 10 minutes. (What mode on the oven would I want?) Only 1 of the smaller steaks came out a bit past medium...Others were medium to medium rare. Mine was one of the medium, so I was disappointed, but I did it, so I deserved it! I will clip and save your post for next time. I also need a good probe thermometer. Thanks again.

    Bookmark   March 4, 2008 at 1:13PM
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Preferred oven mode is good old conventional bake, but the other modes will work also. Regarding searing the sides of thick steaks - Chefs generally don't do it because it's impractical in large batches and can easily lead to the steak only being pink/red in the very middle and may look irregular on the plate. That being said, I like to do it if I'm only cooking a few - The pan's gotta be smokin hot so you get the crust on the outside without overcooking it on the inside (Rejoice, you now have plenty of BTUs to get the job done!).

    Bookmark   March 4, 2008 at 5:40PM
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Thanks again! I get the part about searing the sides, but do think I can do it fast enough to seal it off, but not cook it too much. Our budget rarely allows steak, but now that I know better how to cook it, I'll be tempted to fit it in more often! (Will have to feed DH more oatmeal, etc. to counteract the cholesterol thing...)

    Bookmark   March 4, 2008 at 9:50PM
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By the way, now that you have your kitchen up and running, you might check out the cooking forum - a great group where you can get your questions answered as you get into using the new capabilities.

Here is a link that might be useful: Gardenweb cooking forum

    Bookmark   March 5, 2008 at 2:35AM
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Thanks, Cloud Swift. I have visited that wonderful forum before, but we wandered onto this track here, so I just stuck with this thread to finish the conversation. :-)

    Bookmark   March 5, 2008 at 11:28AM
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Hope you're enjoying your Wolf now. I just got my ovens replaced and am a very happy camper. I didn't realize how off my lemon was, but I'mlooking forward to putting these through a good test.

    Bookmark   March 5, 2008 at 11:39AM
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Glad to hear you got everything resolved with your ovens, Lascatx! I have definitely calmed down about the rangetop and quit comparing it to my fantasies of induction. My kids are doing fine with it...all but 16 yo dd, who is still scared to try it. I'm sure she'll be fine when she's home long enough so we can go over it together...Right now track and driver's ed are keeping her busy. Getting another one behind the wheel...Now that puts a silly little gas stove in perspective! ;-)

Am I going to post photos of my kitchen finished before you finally do of yours? :-) I shouldn't get too cocky, because mine has a long way to go until I can say it's finished...

    Bookmark   March 5, 2008 at 12:00PM
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