There are many things I love about my apartment: an extra room, a walk-in closet, and an included washer and dryer. However, I hate my kitchen — it is a narrow L-shaped room with no natural light, remarkably little storage space, and an old electric stove.
When I decided to start this blog, I realized my kitchen just wouldn’t do. It is too small with too little light to be able to show off the steps and techniques needed to make my recipes. Of course, this meant I had to find somewhere to cook outside my kitchen. I decided to get an induction burner (thanks to all my beautiful cast iron) and use my dining room table.
I recently had the chance to stop in at Chefs First (a restaurant supply store near my office), and I felt like a kid in a candy store. They have equipment I’ll never need, but will forever lust after ( likethe Paco Jet and a giant flat top grill), as well as things I’ll slowly collect over the next few years ( like butane torches, giant pizza knives, and colorful microplanes).
Though I already had the induction burner, a portable butane burner drew my eye. It is light, simple, inexpensive, and comes with a carrying case. I have been very happy with my induction burner, but it has a learning curve that I am still mastering and isn’t compatible with all my cookware. I decided to give this unassuming little burner a shot. I have to say that I have been thrilled with the results.
During my first evening with it, I decided that some tacos would make a perfect introductory test. I slipped the 8 oz. butane fuel canister into its slot and cranked up the fire. The power of the flame surprised me, so I turned it down to about a medium flame. It heated the pan beautifully and my ground meat cooked quickly and evenly.
This was promising. Later that night, I wanted a cup of hot tea, so I decided to warm my kettle in the dining room instead of my stove top. My kettle was whistling in no time. While I have not done a direct comparison of time to boil water yet, it sure felt quicker than leaving it on my old electric stove.
Of course, very little cooking is about quick heating, so I also wanted to test its ability to gently simmer. When I made my Pineapple Ginger Dumplings, I used this burner to simmer the crushed pineapple to reduce the juices and meld the filling flavors. This burner gave me no problems and kept my fruit simmering slowly until it achieved just the right texture. I also made the coconut caramel sauce over a low flame from this burner, and I was quite pleased with the results.
While I have found this to be a great little gadget, it is not without its flaws: the feet are not perfectly level, so there is a little bit of a wobble. The metal casing is also a bit thin, so it feels like it could warp over time, especially on the door that covers the butane canister.
While it might not be a flawless gadget, it is certainly useful to have on hand when you need an extra burner, especially when camping or cooking outdoors. You can find an inexpensive model here. (It’s even on sale right now!)