When Warners’ Stellian entered in the Builders Association of the Twin Cities Chili Cook-Off, I enthusiastically volunteered to make our entry.
We were encouraged to make more than 2 gallons, with the logic being more chili means more tasters means more votes for Warners’ Stellian. So, I made six batches. Observe:
When it came time for the massive amounts of chili to “simmer” for an hour, I lowered the controls on my (15-year-old) gas range to the flame’s lowest point before disappearing and tended to other responsibilities.
When I returned to dutifully “stir occasionally” 55 minutes later, all three pots of my chili were not simmering, but boiling. Of course chili isn’t as delicate as say, chocolate or Hollandaise sauce, but I don’t like the idea of keeping my chili at high heat for nearly an hour.
Apparently, flames on most ranges nowadays can only go so low.
Astronomically high BTU burners are trendy right now, but several brands also offer cooktops and ranges with extra-low settings for safer simmering.
Wolf burners go down to 300 BTUs and absolutely will NOT scorch chocolate.
When I went to Wolf product training, a tiny Hershey’s square sat in a saucepan atop a Wolf simmer burner all afternoon, perfectly happy and melted.
Dacor has burners that can go as low as 650 BTUs, but also includes a simmer plate with some models.
A simmer plate is an accessory that protects your delicate foods from the direct heat of the burner, holding it at the safest low temperature possible.
Thermador ExtraLow Simmer burners can simmer as low as 100°F at 375 BTUs.
If you’re wondering, I didn’t place in the top three, though I did win the prize for Most Colorful Chili (you are what you eat, right?). Of course, I blame my lack of victory on my non-simmering range.