Cookware

Good Cheap Hotplate!

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Cookware 17

Good Cheap Hotplate!

Will Owen | Oct 28, 2012 04:56 PM

I was going to post that title yesterday with a question mark instead of that bang, but took a break and went shopping. Yesterday morning our POS Bosch gas cooktop got pried from it 12-year nest and carted off to a shop to have all its control-knob mechanisms either cleaned or rebuilt. I have a large number of cooking devices, but I had NO backup cooktop, so I went a little crazy doing an online search. The coolest-looking one I found, and about the cheapest, was a Deni two-burner available for from $60 with free shipping or $29 plus shipping, the big problem being that the earliest I could get it would be Thursday … and I require eggs for my Sunday breakfast. Well, I had to pick something up at Bat Breath & Beyond anyway, so when we got there I inquired about hotplates. Nice fellow showed me the ONE they carry, a swell induction job, single plate, for $70. I told him I needed two plates for about half that; he suggested Penney or Sears. There is a Sears close by there, so we dropped in for a look … and there was the Deni! Two, actually, one with a single plate and the two-plate I'd wanted. With tax it was right at $40.

Now, we ripped out a working electric cooktop to put in the gas one shortly after we bought the house, because I'm addicted to cooking over gas and hated every electric stove I've used. I was therefore a little dubious about how me and my new buddy were going to get along. Well, last night I pan-braised about two pounds of black kale, and that was stress-free, perhaps even easier than over gas. This morning, I found that my coffee water came to its required bare boil a little more slowly, but also held that level better without falling suddenly into seething mode, and my over-easy eggs were VERY easy indeed.

The secret is that the technology has changed, and for the better: instead of rheostat controls changing the current flowing to the elements, there is simply a thermocouple switching the current on and off, but the elements are buried in an iron plate to minimize the fluctuation of the plate's temperature. This not only cuts the amount of juice needed at lower temperatures, it also makes the appliance itself simpler and cheaper to make. This is one case where I'm glad that I didn't do my usual thing and go looking in thrift stores for a working antique! But when the Bosch thing comes home from the vet next week, I'm facing a dilemma: where to put my new baby? Well, there's a grounded outlet on the back patio; maybe in addition to grilling the occasional dinner, I can cook the occasional breakfast al fresco too!

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