Looking for more food to set on fire.
August 31, 2010 2:06 AM   Subscribe

What do you use your kitchen torch for, besides caramelizing sugar?

I love my little butane torch but it's my least used kitchen item. I use it to caramelize sugar in a variety of dishes (grapefruit, creme brulee, meringue on pies etc.) but most of those are desserts.

Do you have an awesome use of yours that I haven't thought of?
posted by Saminal to Food & Drink (22 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
Best answer: Caramelizing scallops.
posted by melissam at 2:12 AM on August 31, 2010

I don't know, but i have seen alton brown use one, and he NEVER buys any piece of kitchen equipment that has only 1 use. So you might want to search that.

Oh baked Alaska
posted by hal_c_on at 2:13 AM on August 31, 2010

posted by pompomtom at 2:14 AM on August 31, 2010

I don't have one, but if I bought one, it would be to get charcoal (the real stuff, not briquettes) to burn without having to fan for so long I get arm cramps. So, yeah, starting charcoal fires.
posted by Ghidorah at 2:59 AM on August 31, 2010

Ghidorah: you want a Weber chimney. It's almost life changing if you like barbequing with charcoal.

If I had a kitchen torch, I might use it for browning the top of a crumble. Otherwise, it's useful for charring peppers, before putting them in a plastic bag to steam off.
posted by MuffinMan at 3:38 AM on August 31, 2010 [1 favorite]

drawing designs on toast or mash?
posted by runincircles at 4:19 AM on August 31, 2010

I haven't tried it yet, but Thomas Keller has a killer looking recipe for blow-torch prime rib. The goal is to get a lovely pink from the middle all the way to the edge but still get a crispy, delicious outside. Note, though, that he uses (and recommends for all kitchen use) a larger, butane blow torch. Works better, more reliable, and certainly cheaper than a little made-for-the-kitchen item you'd get at Williams-Sonoma or something.
posted by alaijmw at 4:42 AM on August 31, 2010

Do eggs florentine or any brunchy ramekin egg-and-veg dish with good cheese on top and just before serving, torch the cheesy top until slightly browned and bubbly.
posted by ifjuly at 4:48 AM on August 31, 2010

I'll second using it to char peppers.
posted by pemberkins at 4:58 AM on August 31, 2010

Individual s'mores.
posted by punchtothehead at 5:00 AM on August 31, 2010

Thank you for posting this so I can justify purchasing a kitchen torch.

The cheesy top bit ifjuly suggested also works for cheesy soups - french onion, for example.

Toasting marshmallows. Lighting up bananas foster. Glaze a ham.
posted by SugarAndSass at 5:02 AM on August 31, 2010

Non-culinary use: soldering copper pipes in small spaces.
posted by orme at 5:55 AM on August 31, 2010

Lazy cut&paste of my comment in the previous thread:

Setting fire to as twist of citrus rind before adding to a cocktail releases oils.
Killing spiders.
Heating a stuck jar lid(metal expands when hot).
Peeling tomatos.
Sterilizing the outside of a chunk of meat before grinding so that you can eat it raw/rare safely.

To expand on two of them:

Hugs not drugs, bro, but in addition to freebasing you need a butane lighter/torch to smoke salvia (regular lighters are not hot enough I guess) and if you don't have a gas stove you don't have to do without the throat-ripping mindfuck of doing hot knives (heat butter knives until the tips are red, crush a nugget of hash between them, catch the smoke in a bottle that you've removed the bottom from, inhale through mouthpiece of bottle, prepare to cough for 15 minutes and be way higher than you were planning on getting)

If you use the torch to sterilize the outside of a big intact piece of meat without cooking it all the germs the meat has picked up during processing are now dead and you can now rock tartare, carpaccio, or caveman-style raw steaks. If you have a meat grinder you can now make the most bloody disgustingly awesome rare burgers with complete impunity.

Keep in mind that this method of sterilization will not do anything about parasites inside the meat, just bacteria on the outside. This is not a problem if you're eating commercial meat in the USA but I do not recommend preparing wild game such as venison like this.
posted by Juliet Banana at 6:10 AM on August 31, 2010

I wished I had a torch last week when I roasted some chicken and wanted to crisp up the skin at the end.
posted by oreofuchi at 6:21 AM on August 31, 2010 [1 favorite]

I solve the clutter problem by using a real propane torch in the kitchen occasionally, not the other way around. The "kitchen" torches tend to be very poor quality and break often, anyway.
posted by kcm at 7:11 AM on August 31, 2010

Best answer: To clarify, the blowtorch shines in said egg dish because there are times you can't use a broiler but you want a crispy toasted melty top FAST (obvious, why creme brulee is the first thing anyone thinks of when they consider blowtorches), you don't want the inside to cook further but you need quick intense heat on one section. That's when nothing else will top one. I don't have one and that is just about the only time I realize I really want one around--for souffles, ramekin egg dishes, custards, etc. (When I made eggs florentine a few weeks ago for brunch, I had to settle on one of those candle igniter things and the flame's not intense or large enough to do much except barely melt some of the cheese, so sad).
posted by ifjuly at 7:53 AM on August 31, 2010

I'm late to the blowtorch party, but they're good for croque madame/monsieur in the "melting cheese" vein.
posted by CheeseLouise at 9:10 AM on August 31, 2010

The last time I tried to use mine to brown cheese on top of a baked dish, I ended up with burnt cheese. YMMV.
posted by devinemissk at 10:13 AM on August 31, 2010

1. Finishing eggs when frying them sunny side up--just give them a few second blast at the end to firm up the top of the whites. This way, you can keep the yolk nice and runny, but have the white cooked solidly through (if that's your thing, that is).

2. Pre-rendering fat when cooking meat: For fat pads on meat that you want to leave on or are inconvenient to remove score it with a knife and blast it with the torch until it starts to render. This way, you won't end up with a lot of chewy intact fat in your meat, and it will baste the meat better as it cooks, since you've given it a head start on the rendering process.
posted by [citation needed] at 10:41 AM on August 31, 2010

Perfect for searing steaks.
posted by loquat at 11:17 AM on August 31, 2010

Searing non-sashimi sushi.
posted by Muttoneer at 5:59 PM on August 31, 2010

I hate creme brulee but I love fire so I bought a cheap one a while back, intending to try it on a roast to get a nice crust. Hah - apparently Thomas Keller and I are on the same page. I never got around to trying it though.
posted by CunningLinguist at 8:33 PM on September 4, 2010

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