NWR Kitchen Thread

Discussion in 'UK Wine Forum' started by David Crossley, Jan 8, 2020.

  1. I'm quite intimate with a friend's 1997 Lacanche. It's not marvellous by any means, I'd much rather cook on a 1960s Parkinson Cowan.
  2. I tolerate a Cluny which came with the house. Very well built, but beware that servicing costs can be expensive. Good spare parts supply. It has it's quirks e.g. Gas Mark settings on oven relate to different temperatures than those that you would expect. Was told that by the last engineer who visited and kindly gave me a reference chart.
    Last edited: Jan 16, 2020
  3. 'Tolerate' isn't exactly a ringing endorsement. How are the results Ed once you've got used to its quirks?
  4. Gosh that takes me back! My grandmother had a Parkinson Cowan.
  5. I have had one since installing a new kitchen four years ago and am still in the drool phase.

    Mine has a static oven and a fan oven. 5 burners and a central simmer plate.


    Extremely beautiful with a character and soul that a modern oven cannot match (if you like said character, of course!)
    1m hob width (standard width hobs now feel comically small in comparison)
    Simmer plate which is excellent for fish kettles, big gravy trays, makes light work of stock, pot-au-feu style pie fillings.
    2 full size ovens which are surprisingly deep - a massive turkey will fit in lengthways
    Simplicity of operation
    Handy storage drawers which can also be used for plate warming when not full to the brim with crap as mine definitely always are
    A brutal grill with more power than Beelzebub himself
    Good performance from fan oven- cooks consistently and evenly. Baking oven not so much unless at fiercely hot temps, below 150C it has some cold spots. Roast potatoes do brilliantly in the baking oven.
    Baking oven can touch 300C. Sourdough loaves do very well.
    Accurate fan oven which tracks +/- 5C of stated dial temp in normal use, although not quite as accurate below, say 100C, where the range is more like +/- 10C
    Built like Canterbury Cathedral and feels intimidatingly sturdy in use. I remember studying the Buddhist concept of Anicca at school and wondering if I'd ever encounter a man-made item which could defy it. The Lacanche runs it close.
    Entirely mechanical engineering means that there's little to go wrong (other than see below!), and there is nothing on it which can't be fixed with a coat hanger and a sturdy pair of tights.
    Did I mention that it is incredibly beautiful?

    Stupidly expensive parts - my 2 yr old smashed in all the LEDs with a plastic hammer and the replacement cost of the bulbs alone was £90. I plan to take the money out of his first paycheque sometime around 2035
    Gaskets need replacing every 5 years at £80.
    No viewing glass
    Not as practical as eye-level oven
    Absolutely no concessions made to modern technology. Has no features whatsoever.
    Modern ovens heat up more quickly and are probably more efficient.

    Without wishing to descend into Clarksonian levels of metal-worship, I really do love cooking on my Lacanche. It lends a reassuring and endearing presence to my kitchen, is vastly capacious and generally performs very well, although probably no better than a normal oven at a quarter of the price.

    All of this means nothing if your heart is aflutter, let alone if you've reached the drooling-in-an-undignified-manner-at-eBay-listings stage. The battle is lost and resistance is futile - it's now just a question of which colour you'll choose.
    Last edited: Jan 16, 2020
  6. Will sums it up pretty well. Mine's a 5 burner with static electric oven and gas. The gas hob is excellent and spacious, the central burner brutal. The gas oven is less used than the electric as I find it runs 'wetter' and cooks less crisper. Zero modern features, and you can never leave the grill unattended or rapid carbonisation will ensue. You will have to replace the indicator lights at some point, but it's a competent DIY job.

    The build quality is excellent. I don't think mine had ever been maintained properly since installation long before I inherited it, so the gas oven didn't hold a flame at low setting, and the door on the electric side didn't have a tight fit. But a service visit from the Lacanche engineer restored functionality, replacing door runners etc and re calibrating everything. That was £500+. Ouch. But I wouldn't be surprised if it was still going in another 15 years.
    Last edited: Jan 16, 2020
  7. Interesting, thanks Ed. My theoretical understanding is that a gas oven is supposed to be better for baking and getting very hot indeed (I have electric myself). Sounds like it's a pretty good tool in the right hands
  8. Wonderful stuff, Will, thanks. Did you buy yours new or used?
  9. It is a tool. You have to actually 'cook' with the thing, rather than fire it up and leave it alone, if that makes sense. Very much like Commercial equipment. A bit of input leads to good results.

    One thing to bear in mind is extraction. Lacanche recommend something with a bit of power to remove the heat generated.
  10. thanks Ed! Useful for all of us
  11. For most of my life I have thought that the quick availability of very high heat was extremely important in cooking, but I am starting to wonder if in general it is really true. So much of what we learn about cooking is based on Escoffier's misconceptions.
  12. I completely agree with this Thom, although high heat is clearly not without its uses -browning, baking etc.

    Far better to trust Harold McGee than Escoffier.

    I've been watching Nigel Slater's 90's-tastic 'Real Food' series which is being repeated on an obscure TV food channel. Some of the recipes and techniques are just comical. In one episode, I watched in awe as Nigel and Nigella conspired to roast a small chicken at 220C for 90 mins and then declared it 'beautifully moist and tender'. The laws of physics would disagree.
  13. We got ours as an approved used model. Saved about £800 on the list price which in context was more than we spent on our fridge and certainly made the costs a bit more justifiable.
  14. Also, be aware that the Brass finish tarnishes and needs a bit more cleaning care.
  15. I now cook most things from a cold start when more convenient, though I haven't yet trusted myself with green vegetables, bread or pastry. The experiments will happen and I think bread might actually work. Several years ago Jasper Morris relayed the advice of his Bresse chicken supplier to turn on the oven after putting in the chicken and that has been a revelation in all sorts of ways.
    Was Nigel/Nigella's chicken frozen? that might work, I suppose. I don't really want my kitchen full of smoke any more, it seems unnecessarily macho and indeed wasteful.
    Leon Marks likes this.
  16. I've had excellent results Will with a small chicken at about that temperature - but for 40 minutes! Can't imagine what 90 minutes would do to the thing
  17. 220C is not hot for a chicken, is it? I find a 1.3-1.5 kg chicken(always spatchcocked now, the top two wing joints detached and placed on top of the breast, the backbone cut out and put underneath, because I can guarantee a 10C lower temperature in the breast than the legs) takes about 45 minutes from a cool start; in a very heavy cast iron pan, which certainly speeds things up.
  18. Right I am trying this on Sunday.
    Leon Marks likes this.
  19. ...remove the wishbone with your fingers and a small knife, cut out the backbone with scissors,break and flatten the breastbone with the palm of your hand and locate the joints in the leg which you should snap apart as far as possible(at all times taking care not to break the skin) so that the bird goes pretty flat. If there is enough skin cut two small holes in it on either side of the front of the breast into which you insert the ends of the drumsticks to secure them.
    cut and pasted from an old post, which may or may not be useful. It's the neat trussing at the end which is usually omitted; and the wishbone should of course be removed from any bird that is cooked entire.
  20. Why is it never half as good as from the rotisserie?

    We have two excellent ones here. I suspect a lot is just down to seasoning.
  21. I have done extensive research into chicken roasting but not tried your/Jasper's method. Will be sure to give it a crack.

    My favoured approach is to roast a spatchcocked Sutton Hoo bird in a very hot oven until the internal breast temp reaches 140F/60C, which usually takes around 30min for a 1.8kg chicken.

    Of the many variables, the one which makes by far the most difference is spatchcocking, without which nice leg/dry breast or nice breast/undercooked leg is very difficult to prevent.
  22. My own work in this field, sadly neglected thus far by Government support, replicates your findings, and those of Tom. A 5kg cockerel, done just before Christmas, just fitted, spatchcocked, into the kamado barbecue.

    I feel our work is ripe for publication and stands ready to transform the science of poultry roasting. Professorial endowments, and the privilege of having first crack at the wings, await.

    My personal strategy is to roast for longer at a lower temperature, aiming for the low 60s. Any added risk of death from food poisoning is more than compensated for by the flexibility in timing needed when directing trays of roast potatoes, marshalling small children, and creating the copious weak gravy upon which our national identity & happiness depend.
  23. What is it with gravy? a sort of national madness which seems to have its genesis in it once having been considered improper to drink anything at the table, even water.
  24. The wonder of gravy: it adds moisture to overcooked, dried out meat and lends salt and fat to overboiled, tasteless vegetables.
    Leon Marks likes this.
  25. I genuinely adore the stuff. I can't imagine a roast potato without gravy and can't conceive of a life without roast potatoes.

    I'm willing to accept I might as well have a St George's Cross tattooed amateurishly on my soul.
    Leon Marks likes this.

Share This Page