Leveling Up With Tilt Skillets

Multipurpose tilt skillets gain modern appeal with efficiency upgrades, optimized digital controls, zoned cooking and more features.

Vulcan
Operators may use tilt skillets to grill sandwiches, along with fry, simmer, boil, saute and even pressure cook menu items. Courtesy of Vulcan.

For generations, cooks have depended on the versatility of tilt skillets to improve productivity in the kitchen. Also known as braising pans, these multifunctional units perform a wide range of cooking techniques, including frying, simmering, boiling, sauteing and grilling; some even have a pressure-cooking feature.

Today’s tilt skillets provide benefits that reach beyond the variety of cooking applications. More models now feature cooking zones and advanced control panels for improved efficiency in cooking and ease of use to help operators cut costs as well as improve the overall kitchen environment.

Cleveland

Makers offer a wide range of sizes, from tabletop to freestanding models. Courtesy of Cleveland.

 

NEW WAYS TO CONTROL COOKING

Imagine being able to put on a large batch of hollandaise sauce and walking away to do another task in the kitchen without worrying about scorching the sauce, or boiling gallons of water for pasta in as little as 13 minutes. Smart controls and improvements in hardware enable the newer lines of tilt skillets to cook with more control and efficiency, even for the most delicate recipes.

THE CONTROLS. From electronic controls to touch screen panels, tilt skillets now offer a variety of features well beyond the traditional turn of a knob.

Time and temperature. Both electronic control panels and the touch screens offer operators the ability to precisely set cook time and temperature. One line even has an option to set a timer for up to 10 hours. The precision settings can make a difference to an operator’s bottom line in cooking efficiency. For example, if a marinara sauce should simmer at 175°F, if left a couple of hours just 10 degrees higher, it reduces 10% more than it should, cutting the amount of product able to be served.

Menus. Electronic controls also have the added benefit of automatic settings. Operators can load preprogrammed recipes so a product is made with just a touch of a button, consistent day after day, from one cook to another. They can upload recipes through a USB drive or by pushing them out to multiple units through a cloud drive.

Core probe. Another option that not only helps improve cooking results but also ensures food safety standards are met is a probe feature. The operator programs the probe to a certain temperature, and the heat switches into hold mode once the internal temperature of the product reaches the setting; then, the heat can adjust if the internal temperature starts to drop.

THE HEAT. The technology of the control panels doesn’t work alone. The precision cooking comes from a combination of technology and hardware engineering improvements. One manufacturer has launched a product using a solid state heater together with 8-inch x 8-inch heating zones. Having thermocouples in a lot of different areas means the equipment can heat four times faster than traditional tilt skillets, but at the same time it allows for controlled cooking at lower temperatures for making ganache or caramel without scorching.

The combination of new hardware with smart controls also paved the way for zone cooking with tilt skillets. One manufacturer offers two or three cooking zones in one pan, depending on the size of the pan, while another manufacturer has an option for split pans with the control panel in the middle. This allows operators to cook two different products at two different temperatures at the same time for improved efficiency in the kitchen.

Rational iVario Pro

An auto-lift feature on this tilt skillet will monitor the cooking process and lift the food from the oil at the right time. Courtesy of RATIONAL.

KEEPING THE END-USER IN MIND

Creating a pleasant work environment means more than ever in today’s tight labor market. Smart controls and touch screens bring benefits beyond consistency in cooking and efficient use of ingredients. Preset menus and easy-to-understand controls make on-the-job training easier for operators and ease frustrations for cook staff. They allow managers to hire staff that might not be as experienced, saving labor costs. And self-diagnostic features on some tilt skillets help lower repair costs as well.

Other features on newer models of tilt skillets also improve the work environment. One model adjusts in height at the push of a button, moving up or down 8 inches to better accommodate staff members of varying heights. Another manufacturer’s manual crank brings the skillet to full tilt at 23 cranks, as opposed to the 32 or more of most models. Over the course of a day, fewer cranks makes a difference on wear and tear on the body, especially with a full skillet. And tilt skillets that keep all the heat in, cool to the touch on the outside when cooking, help improve the overall temperature of the kitchen—not only by not giving off heat of their own, but by decreasing the need for other heat-producing equipment such as kettles and steamers.

 

groen Unified Brands Groen Braising Pan

Newer tilt skillets feature improved controls. The advanced controls on this model offer preset cooking temperatures, a digital display, a timer and an audible alarm. Courtesy of Groen.

 

CHOOSING THE RIGHT TILT SKILLET FOR YOUR OPERATION

One of the biggest factors to consider when purchasing a tilt skillet for your operation is size. Choosing the right gallon size for an operation means not only taking into account how many people or meals are served per day, but also thinking about kitchen space. Tilt skillets range in size from a 10-gallon tabletop model to the 30- and 45-gallon floor models. The smaller-footprint tabletop models fit easily under an existing hood when space is at a premium. Also take into account the type of food you will be preparing. For example, your brand might have restaurants with a typically small footprint but employees are making large batches of sauce or macaroni and cheese, which could call for one of the larger models.

Other choices include gas or electric powered equipment, the level of automation and settings on the controls, and manual or automatic tilting. “I always recommend the automatic tilt function,” says one manufacturer. “It might cost a little more upfront, but when a 40-gallon pan is full of product you’ll be glad to have the automatic feature.”

The versatility of tilt skillets and wide range of sizes and features means they work great in any size or type of operation. From small restaurants to K-12 settings to large banquet halls, this equipment can help improve the efficiency and productivity of any operation.

 


Ready To Cook

User-friendly features and advanced controls and heating technology abound on the latest tilt skillets.

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