[Sca-cooks] irons for browning food

Phil Troy / G. Tacitus Adamantius adamantius1 at verizon.net
Fri Jul 23 16:59:43 PDT 2010

On Jul 23, 2010, at 6:53 PM, Stefan li Rous wrote:

> Katherine said:
> <<< Last weekend at a garage sale I found an iron
> designed for burning the sugar on creme brulee.  Should be perfect to
> experiment with! >>>
> Oooh. Neat. What does this iron look like?

Here's a modern example. 


In English and American kitchens this tool is called a salamander; there's also a type of wall-mounted electric or gas broiler that is approximately at eye level and has no doors so you can see right into it as the food browns; this is also known as a salamander. For small jobs such as creme brulee, a small propane (or maybe butane?) torch is often used.

> There are some period recipes that talk about browning the top of dishes, usually cheese ones I believe, with something like this. It would be nice to see this done more.
> For instance, the rather common recipe for cheese-goo, Digby's Savory Tosted Cheese calls for this, but I don't remember anyone doing this or even calling for it in their redactions.

Some Dutch Oven cookery uses a flanged lid that can be covered with coals to bring heat from above to the food inside, and there are also, IIRC, a great number of Islamic recipes that involve browning from above using a fire shovel or a vessel buried in coals. 

These were the two basic methods of browning food on top, unless you used an oven, which can present some logistical difficulties of its own. Modern cooks can now bring heat from above using a gas or electric broiler, an option period cooks really didn't have, not without a salamander or functional equivalent. The short answer to the question of why more modern cooks don't include that step is presumably that it's much easier to use the broiler.


"Most men worry about their own bellies, and other people's souls, when we all ought to worry about our own souls, and other people's bellies."
			-- Rabbi Israel Salanter

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