Kya deLongchamps looks at the vast array of electric and gas super-cookers
Range cooker – it’s right there in the name. This is not simply about the best sear to a sirloin or dealing out moist sponges. A large, free standing stove of 90cm plus is a weighty confident element terraced to but not swallowed by the cabinetry. It’s hefty real estate in your kitchen.
Contemporary or classic, they are built to be noticed. If the oven, grill and hob are in concert in one appliance they have a lot to live up to, in separate integrated performance. Don’t fall for the glittering chassis of any gorgeous range until you are happy with what’s under the hood - a professional spec super cooker built for domestic purposes — not a flabby pretender.
Does Size matter?
Describing a 60-80cm cooker as a traditional range is a creative marketing stretch, but keep in mind there are 60cm City Agas on offer. Cast iron pan supports and chunky clunk-click knobs do not a range cooker make, as this volume and top can rarely deliver more than four rings and may have to drop the grill to get two ovens in. Perfectly fine if you don’t titter around the mahogany with 12 to dinner more than once a year.
Don’t rate the cooker by the metre. Most range owners I know admit to spending more time buffing, leaning on and boasting about their culinary Jaguar, than they ever do igniting every centimetre of its potential. Keener industrial styling can deliver a great 90cm edit, scaled to a small to standard kitchen.
With ovens as glorious as 60-135 litres (a standard oven is a relatively mean 55litres), you have the option of professional detailing such as the inclusion of a rotisserie. And sliding pans on pull out supports are standard — the days of winkling in those extra goose fat-slicked potatoes while searing our fore-arms, is over.
Ovens numbers run from 1-5 and may include a vertical narrow choice on the side, great for small trays of roasties and portions of meat. A separate grill and a warming oven make sense if you value these features.
Be warned, range cooker grills tend to be cramped affairs. Where the grill is present inside an oven, the grill and fan-assistance can be used to brown and cook roasts. Read the reviews online to see if there’s a good even spread of heat from the cooker’s grill and any electric hob elements up top.
What are the timer facilities with the cooker?
A quality cooker will take from 5-15 minutes to get to 180C. Read online owner reviews, where the moistness of a fairy cake from a top oven to the main, is often ruthlessly revealed.
Topside, most trumpeted, ‘extras’ are hob based features such as warming zones, griddles and rapid burners. An enthusiast cook will have many an odd-shaped pan, and the freedom to bang down six large devices, will bring the creations of the ambitious foodie in on time.
A variety of sizings and keen control for fragile ingredients and methods can really infuse your cooking life. Cast iron cradles and ‘cattle grid’ supports (run over the entire stove top) allow a slide for pans straight across from ring to a lava stone warming area.
Induction hobs allow you to use any size of pan on that ring when matched to the correct type of pan of course, a great mix up with gas in a combination cooker.
Gas rings offer the ultimate dial and set simmer, and have some superb versatile options to consider, including triple ring burners or a high burner, shaped to take a wok and heat large pans in double. A dedicated steak griddles can sit right over the designated burner. Elongated burners are designed to carry a fish kettle or rectangular pans and are extremely handy even for occasional use. In all electric cookers, expect a larger warming area on the hob, often the star turn.
Style over succulence?
Styling falls roughly into two camps. There are the wildly popular contemporary styles which ape the practical industrial look in aluminium and steel — and there are the classic ranges which can be country cottage/rustic in look or vaguely 1950s in character – some simply cross over these genres in bold new imaginings.
Look beyond these divine distractions to their handling, however, gross oven capacity and honest everyday features you know suit your culinary habits. Take the showroom model for a test drive. I have been shocked by the tinny sound of cheap oven doors which should ‘whump’ shut and knobs that rattle under the fingers and easily slide free, giving inaccurate temperature
Hot Buys 90-100cm/under €2,000
In all electric, the Flavel MLN10CRS offers a smooth glass/ceramic surfacing up top, five rings and two ovens, one fan assisted. It also comes with a digital display with an electronic clock and minute minder, and easy clean enamel interiors.
Ideal for the range lover who doesn’t want a fiddly clean. €849.99, Currys.
Belling Richmond 90cm Dual Fue l. AA rated with three ovens, cast iron supports, fan-defrost plus a storage drawer, an all-gas hob and trending black or yellow finish, €1999.95, Harvey Norman.
Hot buys 110cm plus/ €2-3,000.
The Rangemaster Classic Edition, 110cm, with rotary dial in diamond-turned aluminium and bevelled door looks and feels all traditional quality. The induction hob option (2, the other five are gas) is efficient and easy care. The matched 73l ovens are 8 function beauties. A deep grill pan design offers better performance than most. Separate grill/storage drawer. €3,399, Harvey Norman.
All gas, gorgeous and a well appointed 110cm – The Waterford Stanley SSUP110DFFPAC in black or Pearl Ashes (great colour), with two 69l ovens, one multifunction and one fan, from €3,102, suppliers include The Sound Store.
Hot buys - Scorching €3,500-€10,000:
Smeg ranges from 110-150cm offer streamlined contemporary and continental features.
We love the 110cm Smeg Victoria in an induction model, great value for quality and features at €3,370, suppliers nationwide, smeg.ie.
Lacanche ranges from Burgundy, offer cookers from 60cm in range style and are famous for allowing an individual build their cooker, blending gas, electric and induction in a wide palette of colours.
For a Lotto spend, the 150cm includes a simmer oven for slow cooking, while 180cm buys you 83l ovens, enough to swallow a suckling pig. Add belt and braces with a dedicated Lachance extractor. POA, sho.ie.
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