Benefits Of An Electrical Skillet
Electric skillets make a great addition to a collection of other multi-purpose cooking tools meant for compact spaces like crock pots and hot plates. In fact, among those three devices, one can make almost any dish they desire without needing a fully equipped kitchen. Electric skillets only require an electrical outlet to heat up, so they can save you money on your gas bill, and help you avoid the hazards that come with a gas stove. They still offer all of the same benefits of a traditional skillet, though, like non-stick materials, a surface that heats evenly, and a large cooking area.
Electric skillets come with added perks, too. Using these won't heat up one's kitchen as much as a traditional, stove-top variety would. This is especially nice during the summer months when cooking in a hot kitchen can be uncomfortable. Electric skillets also hold your desired cooking temperature much better than stovetop ranges, which are at the mercy of a flickering flame. That makes them perfect for frying foods like donuts and chicken, which require a precise and steady temperature.
Many electrical skillets also act as heated serving dishes so a cook can keep large portions of food warm, while they serve their guests. It's much safer to leave food unattended in an electrical skillet than on a traditional stove, too. If you do have a fully equipped kitchen, an electrical skillet can be useful during holidays when one makes dozens of recipes at once and needs extra cooking space. Plus, many of them stand on frames that look elegant and are perfect for dinner parties.
A Brief History Of The Skillet
Civilizations as old as those from ancient Mesopotamia, Greece, and Rome used frying pans. Older versions of the item were called spiders because they stood on three legs, and had a long handle. Many believe that the skillets used today in America evolved from 17th-century Dutch cast-iron frying pans, which didn't have legs and had lower sides because they were predominantly used for pancakes. By the 18th century, the spider style pan in the United States had shrunken down; it became a forged sheet iron pan with welded legs and a strap handle.
By the 19th century, the legs had been completely eliminated from American frying pans. They were still called spiders, but innovations in stovetops called for flat-bottomed pans. It was around this time that the spider formally took on the name skillet. Some theorize that the British started making these flat-bottomed skillets before the Americans. British cook and author Martha Bradley had a section called "Of Frying" in her 17th-century recipes book, which detailed foods that would almost certainly require the type of flat skillet that American's only started using more than 100 years later.
A man named Ivar Jepson received a patent for the first electric frying pan in 1956. In his reasons for creating the product, Jepson specifically mentions the ability to monitor temperature, and the fact that an electrical skillet can safely be left unattended for short periods of time. Jepson also talks about how wind or kitchen fans can affect cooking temperatures on traditional skillets, and how having the heating element and pan combined provides better temperature control. In 1964, after his first electric skillet saw much success, Jepson also filed for a patent for a model that could be fully immersed in water for cleaning purposes.
Tips For Baking In Your Electric Skillet
One of the ways to maximize a tiny kitchen is to use an electric skillet like an oven. Since most electric skillets come with a lid, they contain heat very well, just like an oven. Depending on what one is making, they can line their skillet with foil so that the outside of their food does not accidentally fry on the pan's surface, or the chef can place a baking pan inside of their skillet.
Some electric skillets even have a deep enough interior to contain a wire rack. This allows you to put a baking dish on the rack, inside of the pan. Once the lid is over the pan, the heat from the bottom can travel up and penetrate the ingredients, similar to the way it would in an oven. Because electric frying pans have temperature dials just like those found on ovens, you can set them to the exact temperature called for in the original baking recipe. This technique is great for dishes like chicken or pot roast.
If you would like to make a cake inside of your electric skillet, line the pan with foil. Turn the temperature dial to the required heat. When the pan is warm, pour the cake batter into the foil-lined skillet and place the lid on top. Make sure the lid is slightly off center, allowing some air into the cake. When the cake is done, simply remove the lid, place a large serving dish over the top of the pan, and turn it over. The cake should slide onto the platter.