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Electric skillet with low (sub 200 F) temperatures numbered?

post #1 of 5
Thread Starter 

Hello,


I watched an episode of Good Eats last night where Alton brown poached catfish at 140 degrees F in an electric skillet. I wanted to try this out, but all the electric skillets I see online stop numbering at 200 degrees (the lowest temp numbered) and anything cooler than that is is labeled 'warming' or 'keep warm'.


I was wondering if anyone knew of a good/decent electric skillet that has the numbers down to at least 140 so that I could replicate his recipe. I was reading after watching the episode and apparently many types of fish are meant to be poached at 140 degrees F so it seems like it would be a worthwhile investment if I could find one.


Thanks for any help.

post #2 of 5

I simply "calibrate" my electric skillets/pans/cookers as a regular practice for a couple of reasons:

  1. The numbers on the dial(s) rarely reflect actual temperatures, and
  2. For the reason you mention, rarely are there numbers in the range I'm interested in.

 

It is not difficult with a probe thermometer that you know is accurate. Fill the skillet/pan/cooker to the desired level, insert the thermometer probe, and set the dial where you think is appropriate. Record the temperature readings and when they stabilize, probably 5-15 minutes, record the setting and temperature so you can return to that temperature later.

 

Unless the temperature controller is a PID (proportional–integral–derivative) controller, you will probably see the temperature vary by as much as 5%-10%, depending on the accuracy of the thermostat.

 

There are numerous PID controllers available, take a look at: https://www.google.com/search?q=sous+vide+pid+controller&ie=utf-8&oe=utf-8&aq=t&rls=org.mozilla:en-US:official&client=firefox-a

Chef,
Specialties: MasterCook/RecipeFox; Culinary logistics; Personal Chef; Small restaurant owner; Caterer
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Chef,
Specialties: MasterCook/RecipeFox; Culinary logistics; Personal Chef; Small restaurant owner; Caterer
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post #3 of 5
Thread Starter 

when you say fill the skillet? do you mean with whatever liquid I would be poaching with?

 

Also, have you found your temperature reading to be accurate in the same spot in the 'warm' range over time?  If I could make that work. I could just mark on the dial where to put it.

post #4 of 5

Fill the skillet with plain water for the calibration phase.

 

That is the purpose of "calibrating", finding the point on your dial that provides the temperature you desire.

 

I calibrate whatever device I'm using, be it an oven, electric skillet/griddle/whatever. In a majority of cases, the dial marks are NOT an accurate reflection of the actual device temperature, especially with analog controls. Digital controls can be more accurate.

 

The dial reading is far less important than the actual temperature reading. One electric skillet I have actually heats to 275°F when the dial reads 325°F! I poach eggs at 180°F and do so by setting that particular skillet to a dial setting just under 225°F. The actual temperature will vary between 175°F and 183°F when set there.

 

The key is using an accurate thermometer for the calibration. You can actually calibrate your thermometer by using an ice water solution as a reference for 32°F and boiling water for 212°F at sea level, the boiling point temperature will vary with elevation. If you know your elevation, this calculator: http://www.csgnetwork.com/h2oboilcalc.html will tell you the actual temperature of boiling water.
 

Chef,
Specialties: MasterCook/RecipeFox; Culinary logistics; Personal Chef; Small restaurant owner; Caterer
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Chef,
Specialties: MasterCook/RecipeFox; Culinary logistics; Personal Chef; Small restaurant owner; Caterer
Reply
post #5 of 5

Plug your skillet into a DC motor/router motor speed controller, you can adjust the heating from 0 to full power.

 

Make sure the controller is high enough in amps/watts.

 

dcarch

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