Kettles and steamers enable a chef to prepare large
amounts of food efficiently, since the heat is applied over a much larger
area than is possible when a single burner is used. Cooking times for
dishes prepared in steamers and large kettles are often shorter than for
those prepared on a range top.
This free-standing or tabletop kettle circulates steam
through the walls, providing even heat. Units vary, they may tilt, may be
insulated, and may have spigots or lids. Available in a range of sizes,
these kettles are excellent for producing stocks, soups and sauces. They
are generally made of stainless steel and sometimes have a specially
treated nonstick surface. Gas or electric models are available.
This large, relatively shallow free-standing unit is used
for braising and stewing. Most tilting kettles have lids, allowing for
steaming as well. They are usually made of stainless steel and are
available in gas or electric models.
Water is heated under pressure in a sealed compartment,
allowing it to reach higher than boiling temperature (212oF / 100oC at sea
level). The cooking time is controlled by automatic timers, which open the
exhaust valves at the end. The door cannot be opened until the pressure
has been released.
The steam is generated in a boiler and then piped to the
cooking chamber, where it is vented over the food. Pressure does not build
up in the unit, it is continuously exhausted, which means the door may be
opened at any time without danger of scalding or burning.