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What Would A Salamander Be Used For At Home?

post #1 of 12
Thread Starter 
I noticed that some "pro-style" brands offer home versions of salamander broilers. Well, Bluestar does anyway. I am curious about this, because I've never seen a salamander in anyone's home (and I have never worked in a restaurant kitchen).

What is a salamander usually used for, in a restaurant? What do you think it would realistically be used for, in a home kitchen?

I've asked a chef I met, and his response was that they use salamanders to "melt cheese", and "don't turn your back on it! your food will burn". I asked, "is that all, would you broil a steak in it?" He said, "yes, you could, but it would splatter everywhere". I got an image of hot liquid in one's eye, and we went back to drinking.

My thought had been, that a home salamander would be used for getting fish skin crisp or putting the crust on a steak, something like that.
post #2 of 12
Bluestar is trying to make a point more than communicating an actual truth -- but to their credit, what they're saying is true if inexact.

Their broiler is an "IR" (infra red) broiler and not an actual restaurant salamander -- even though it uses substantially the same technology. A modern restaurant salamander is essentially an open broiler, but develops more heat at the grate than a standard broiler. Too much heat to be used as an ordinary broiler.

A "cheese melter" is another piece of restaurant equipment, traditionally used in Mexican restaurants to melt the cheese on beans, enchiladas and so on. In fact, the two pices of equipment, cheese melter and salamander, are essentially identical except for the price.
So when you're friend says a salamander is a cheese melter, that's what he meant. When he talked about grease in your eye, it's because restaurant salamanders and cheese melters are mounted above the stove at eye-height.

IR broiling and grilling technology used to be very expensive, in part because of manufacturing costs, and in part because it was covered by TEC's patent. However, costs have come down and the patent either expired or TEC started licensing cheaply (I'm not sure which). In any case the glass or ceramic broilers which were at the heart of restaurant salamanders, and which once rare and expensive are quite common in "pro style" stoves, high-performance barbecues and so on.

However, a pro-style oven with an integrated broiler is not a restaurant oven, nor is the integrated broiler is not a restaurant salamander. The difference is the amount of gas available to the respective pieces of equipment. Restaurant stoves use bigger inlets to take advantage of a much larger gas supply.

The home IR broilers do develop significant more heat than an ordinary home stove broiler -- at least an ordinary home stove without an IR broiler. They are in fact hot enough to actually broil a steak -- rather than shine a little flame at it while baking it to death. No matter how hot it gets, you can easily control the heat by moving the rack you've got your broiler pan on down a level or two and cook your chicken so the skin is crisp but the meat is cooked through.

In short, it's good tech and you want it. Be aware that almost all pro style home stoves have it, but each has its own name for it.

BDL
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post #3 of 12
Thread Starter 
Okay, so if you have an overhead IR broiler in your Bluestar or other pro-style range oven, then the Bluestar or other pro-style brand salamander doesn't add much function? I'm trying to make sure I understand right.

But - still trying to understand this - what function does the salamander serve in the first place? In, let's say, a typical restaurant kitchen, what dishes usually go into the salamander?
post #4 of 12
No. I must have been very unclear, and apologize for confusing you.

An "overhead" is just that -- overhead. It's a separate piece of equipment mounted on a shelf above the cooktop -- the way some people mount their microwave/hoods above the cooktop. It is not mounted inside the oven.

The "salamander" which sometimes come in pro-style range ovens is really just a powerful broiler by another name, and which utilizes IR tech.

Me too. Hope you've got it now, pardner.

In a restaurant kitchen a salamander is used for top-browning, cheese-melting, skin-crisping, brulees, some broiling (nothing too thick -- or it would burn on the outside before cooking on the inside), and a great many other things which require a lot of radiant heat. To a large extent, salamanders have been overtaken by torches.

BDL
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post #5 of 12
The main uses I've had for a salamander is burning the sugar on a creme brulee (what's the code tag for accent aigu or accent grave?:confused:), toasting up cheese on pasta dishes like lasagna or chicken parm, making toast in places with no toaster, and finishing seafood- it works good for fish like walleye, talapia and roughy. Occasionally I'll use one to finish the last touch of doneness for a steak or chop or brown a blue cheese crust on a filet.

A true salamander would rock at home but it would be a fire/insurance nightmare!
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"Excellence is an art won by training and habituation. We do not act rightly because we have virtue or excellence, but we rather have those because we have acted rightly. We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act but a habit." - Aristotle
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post #6 of 12

Salamander in the Home

Whether it is the perfectly melted cheddar cheese on a hamburger or the browned cheese topping on a bowl of french onion soup, a specialized piece of kitchen equipment called a salamander broiler is probably responsible for it. A number of new gourmet kitchens are being built with a salamander broiler for a number of reasons, from broiling fish to melting cheese to caramelizing sugar. More and more families want a commercial kitchen in their home and will use a salamander broiler to keep homemade pizza warm etc. Do be aware of proper application.

Is it possible that serious cooking is not a fad and more, and more consumers are getting interested in taking control of their food source and preparation. If I can learn to prepare restaurant food at home that is to my liking, I will and if purchasing the proper equipment to do it is what's necessary so be it. There are interesting food production changes coming down the pike.

Home salamander
D. Denay Davis

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post #7 of 12
Thread Starter 
Would a range-mounted salamander be more of a fire problem than a commercial range alone would be?

I'm doing to re-do my kitchen and the range wall will be studs/fireboard/air gap/fireboard/tile/steel; a commercial hood overhead w/ appropriate CFM/makeup; stone tile floors; no cabinets on the wall at all. I have not decided whether to use a commercial range (if I can even get away with it) but figure I will build the kitchen to allow the widest possible range (bad pun) of options in future.

I know some people with commercial ranges in their homes and, with enough planning, it seems practical to me (insurance/code issues aside).

But perhaps a commercial salamander is an entirely different level of risk.

(Oh, BTW, I originally got interested in learning about salamanders when I realized that commercial range ovens usually don't have broilers - that's right, isn't it?. A kitchen with no broiler - bad. But I could simply add a residential wall oven w/ broiler - wife would like two ovens anyway - or go with a pro-style range, so that problem is easily solved. Which led me back to trying to understand what the thing would actually add, functionally-speaking. Hence this post. Thanks for everyone's patience!)
post #8 of 12
You need to wade through the jargon a bit because the term "salamander" is using the vernacular. A cheese melter is a salamander as is a swing broiler as they both heat from the top down like a broiler and are open on the front.
Typically and most commonly a "salamander" is a small open broiler over the range. What are they typically used for? Spice racks, holding plates etc.:lol:
I'm only being slightly facetious here but they don't have a lot of use in most commercial kitchens with a larger up-right broiler. You could broil fish in one but not very effectively in most as they are very shallow so they do not trap or contain the heat like an up-right broiler because of their shallow depth. Most are just not capable of doing a very good job on a steak although you could do it. I'm just not sure why you would want to since the broiler inside any BS range would work nearly as well. The only thing you gain with the salamander is the ability to raise or lower the grate not that you can't accomplish nearly the same thing in an oven broiler by using a different rack.

Yes.
The IR broiler in a commercial style home range is enclosed in your oven. BS does not make commercial ranges they make commercial style home ranges. A salamander is more dangerous for a number of reasons. One it requires a very large kitchen. Putting that in perspective I have clients with homes over 15,000 square feet and multiple kitchens that do not have a great place for a salamander. They are mounted over the range so they take a lot of heat if the oven or burners are running. They are closer to your hood. All of these things create a greater potential for fire. You may want to search but IIR BS had some issue with these in regards to grease fires.
Most commercial ranges do not have oven broilers. However most commercial kitchens have larger dedicated up right swing broilers so there is no need. All BS ranges come with a broiler as do most wall ovens so if you buy a range and a wall oven you are already going to have two broilers. The one in the BS will be an IR broiler.
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post #9 of 12
I just can't see a salamander being useful at home, at least, not for me. In my restaurant we primarily use the sally for one of three things:


-To toast toast, which it does a great job of, as long as you keep your eye on it constantly.
-To flash soup bowls or other plates that got missed on a plate call, and need to be 'RED HOT, RIGHT NOW'
-To flash the majority of our hot plates before they leave the kitchen, just 8 seconds under or 'until the protein is painfully hot to the touch'

Whenever you put something under the sally you always announce that you've got something under. 'Cheese under' 'Toast under' 'Flashing mains on table 22' 'Soup bowl under'

I guess a more moderate salamander with more temperature control (Our's theoretically has multiple settings, but in reality it has 'Full power' and 'pilot') would be useful in a home kitchen, but I just couldn't see myself using it if I had one.
post #10 of 12
The most common usages everywhere I've worked has been the aforementioned cheese melting (French onion soup, gratineed pasta dishes or casseroles), and for finishing omelettes/fritattas.

I have cooked scallops on the shell in a sallie, but not much else, as far as my poor memory goes.
I would like to upgrade to more professional equipment at home but a salamander probably wouldn't make the list, or at least be at or near the bottom.
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post #11 of 12

I have been wanting a salamander at home for years but the prices and installation were a challange.  I found this at BJ's online and in the store with stand and cover for less than Joe Namath advertised online.  Check it out.  

   http://www.namathproducts.com/namath-cookware-products/namath-rapidcooker

 

i plan on cooking steaks, browning dishes and all the other uses for the salamander.:chef: 

 

1400 degrees is the operating temperature and has 9 settings and movable grill rack.


Edited by MCOBOB - 6/2/14 at 8:35pm
post #12 of 12
I don't cook high volume at home, so I just use a blowtorch.
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