Well, I still have absolutely no idea why the induction hob caused me so many problems 2 years ago when I first got it. It is, in fact, very easy to use, will simmer nicely, if a tad gently (which, of course, contributes to the food not sticking and burning). There is simply no problem with it.The problem was with me.
The only thing I can think of, based on how, recently wiped out by pain, I just couldn’t remember how my digital camera worked (when I’d been familiar with it for well over two years), and looking at the date I bought it (the hob, not the camera), October 1, 2012, I was already deep in the crisis that would put me in hospital the following March. I was just too sick.
Fast forward to now, and while I’m still pretty crap (that’s the polite version!), I can, at least, get my head around new stuff. And the difference between then and now? I now know I have Addison’s, and it’s being properly medicated (by which I mean it’s under my control).
So, anyway, the induction hob. Today (for which read yesterday – I forgot to publish it), I’m making this recipe which is somewhat more complex than what I’ve done so far, which is make soup (lentil), and fry fish. The soup was very easy, as the gentle simmer meant I had no need to hover, obsessively stirring it, as is usually the case with lentil soup, and the fish was brilliant, and fast (I think fried eggs would be good, too, as the pan heats up so fast it’d set the whites before they have a chance to spread out – I’ll try that tonight**).
**I did, they were. Only downside, I like a very runny yolk – they were a little too set for me.
The casserole happens in multiple stages. I started with a half-leg of lamb, already boned, from which I cut steaks. Yep, I know I can buy leg steaks, but this way I get to control every aspect and, when it comes to food, I confess to being something of a control freak.
So, the steaks are exactly the thickness I want, and are perfectly uniform (unlike supermarket leg steaks which are generally carved by some numpty who is to knife skills what a lumberjack is to topiary, the result being randomly hacked-up lumps of meat**). The steaks are then trimmed and diced, the trimmings collected, put in a small pan and rendered down for their fat, which is then strained into the cooking pot. There’s no waste, except peelings, when I’m around.
**Why is that? I know some people just can’t master knives (Nigella Lawson, for example), and some are afraid of them – neither should be employed in food prep, and those who are should be better trained.
Traditionally, one would brown the meat, but supermarket meat is so wet this is an act of futility, but I do fry it off to evaporate some of the moisture, and some of it will brown, a little. Of course, if you can buy meat that’s been hung for a few weeks, you won’t have this problem. Sadly, I can neither find it nor afford it if I could.
The meat is then removed, the heat turned up to boil off the water that’s now in the fat, a little clarified butter is added to replace what the meat has absorbed, and for additional flavour, and half a dozen Echalion shallots, cut in two lengthways and thickly sliced, are gently fried off (scrape up any meat residue from the bottom of the pot).
Diced carrot, swede, and celeriac are added at the next stage, along with the meat and any liquid it’s given off (a surprising amount in my case – I wonder how much Ocado are charging for water?), plus the stock components, a tablespoon of Harissa (my own blend), and a little extra mint and oregano (this is basically the recipe linked to above, with added swede and mint), the pot filled to the halfway mark with boiling water, brought to the boil, stirred, covered, the temperature reduced to 80C and left to its own devices, bar the occasional stir, until the meat is just tender and the veg soft. Then add a pointed red pepper, cut into postage-stamp pieces, dates, cherries and black olives, bring back to the boil, reduce to 80C and cook for another 15-20 minutes.
Then add 3 cans of chick peas, drained and rinsed, to up with boiling water so it’s all well covered, allow the chick peas to heat through (again, bring up to boiling and then down to 80), and you’re done.
All of which goes very much faster than it ever did on the stove, as bringing the pot contents up to temperature on the induction hob is close to instantaneous (though it takes a little time for the solids to catch up with the liquid, naturally).
And it would have gone even faster if I hadn’t kept getting sidetracked by medical problems. And no – you really don’t want to know.
Bottom line, and I can speak only for this model, an induction hob can be a godsend for a Spoonie, because it makes the whole process so much easier, eliminates most of the need to stir. Also, unlike a cooker, you can put the thing wherever is most convenient for you. This is where I have mine:-
From the left, my slightly knackered stove (for those who missed it, the hot plates are mostly hot spots), Lakeland mini oven (looks a tad crude but works well), induction hob with the casserole I’ve just been writing about, my espresso machine and, behind that, the coffee grinder, all three on a wheeled kitchen trolley that can be moved to get at the oven (I should be making bread but I’m done for).
And behind me is my work space:-
Left to right again, Kenwood Chef mixer (the white bowls on top aren’t part of it), containers of various grades of sea salt, plus sugar, Dualit XL1500 food processor, odds and sods, baking scales, microwave, and De’ Longhi deep fryer. Above is my flavours cupboard, which holds much more than is actually visible, the bottom shelf having four ranks of jars, but you can only see the front rank and the tall ones at the back. Perishables are in the fridge or freezer.
When prepping food the wooden board, kept only for bread, is replaced with a large, high-density, polypropylene version which can be easily scrubbed and/or bleached, where wood can’t. Well, OK, it can but just try getting the smell of Milton out of wood!
NB: The casserole in the pic is my most recent one (see the link below for details), 4.5 litres of high-grade stainless steel with a very heavy base – it cooks brilliantly but is undeniably heavy for a Spoonie. I got it because it allows me to cook a full 3 litres without having it slop out when stirred or moved. Also in my workspace, in front of my microwave (this is an old pic and I haven’t cleared up yet, today, to take a new one), is my boiling water dispenser, arguably the most useful gadget I have (and I’ve got a few!). Highly recommended.
Note: When using the induction hob “Bring to the boil” means turning it up to 140C until bubbling, then down to 100C for a couple of minutes for the solids to heat up (they take longer than the liquid), before reducing to 80C for the simmer. If you turn it down to 80 too soon, the cooler solids will lower the temperature of the whole. Not a disaster – it’ll soon catch up – but it’s best to get into a routine that works.
Finally, a warning:- You might read, as I have lately, that induction hobs are much safer than any other as they don’t get hot. This is complete garbage.
It’s true that they don’t heat up in the same way electric hobs do (the induction field heats the metal pot, not the glass hob), but if you have a pot of boiling stew bubbling away then the induction hob, while having no intrinsic heat of its own will, by conduction, become exactly as hot as the boiling pot – and it WILL burn you.