Saturday, November 10, 2012

Article: New GE Profile Gas Range Comes With a Pleasant Surprise

The GE Profile gas range makes its debut in my kitchen
For those of you who follow this blog, you're probably used to me complaining about my electric glass-top range, the Frigidaire Gallery. Well, the kitchen gods have smiled upon me (or at least smirked): The Frigidaire is dead!

The glass-top range had been basically new when we moved into the house 8 years ago... but my years of restaurant work meant I was always secretly planning for a gas range (while my wife may never believe me, I didn't actually sabotage the glass-top).

My primary complaint about the glass-top electric was that the stovetop burners were completely unresponsive to having the heat turned down. It was literally impossible to cook simple foods like pasta, oatmeal, and rice—without standing there the whole time shuffling the pot between on and off burners. If you left the pot on a recently-turned-to-low burner for even a minute, it would boil over and make a mess.

I toyed with the idea of getting a "real" stove... a commercial range like a Wolf or a Vulcan. But those typically come in 36-inch widths, and I wasn't up for an extensive kitchen remodel just now. Having to move the gas line from the old range location was enough hassle.

Having settled on a household range, I hopped on Consumer Reports to do some research. I  found two likely contenders: the GE Profile and the LG LRG3097ST.

The convection oven will probably never
again be so clean!
My primary selection criteria were high heat and low heat. I wanted enough BTU output to sear foods and boil water without waiting all day. Even more important, I wanted to be able to simmer foods at very low temperatures without burning delicate sauces or making boilover messes.

The GE Profile and the LG LRG3097ST are at the top of their class on both high heat and low heat. They both feature convection ovens, stainless steel finish (to match my other appliances), and decently-rated broilers—which are usually not as good on gas models compared to electric. I also wanted continuous grates on the cooktop to make sliding around heavy pans (like, you know, cast iron) easier.

I had a slight preference for the LG range since it had two high capacity (~17,000 BTU) burners versus only one on the GE model. But when I learned that LG needed to re-tool a factory and wouldn't have them available for weeks, the GE (which could be delivered in 2 days) won out.

A real Lodge cast iron griddle was a nice surprise
The GE Profile has five burners, with the middle burner having an elongated shape. This should come in handy when using my oval enameled dutch oven. It also comes with a custom-shaped griddle that fits inside the four outer burners in a tapering, curved pattern. I was sure this griddle would be some teflon-coated piece of junk that I'd never use. Imagine my surprise when I unwrapped a Lodge cast iron griddle!

After getting things hooked up and tested, I was ready to rock. I gave the griddle a scrub with hot soapy water, rinsed it thoroughly, coated it in organic canola oil, and gave it a good oven seasoning.

While I've only used the new range a handful of times, I've found the central griddle to be perfect for cowboy eggs, french toast, and quesadillas. I was also able to cook the boys' morning oatmeal on a nice low simmer with no boilovers.

I'll keep you informed as I use it more and discover its strengths and weaknesses. For now, I'm a happy camper cooking on natural gas.