But a few weeks ago, we stumbled upon a crazy culinary appliance that may be the most legitimate of them all: the hair dryer.
Now, before you think we've fallen off the kitchen stool from too much eggnog, check out the science and history behind the idea.
Hazen's classic recipe for roast duck contains this unusual twist: Dunk the duck in boiling water and then thoroughly go over it with a hair dryer, Hazen writes in Essentials of Classic Italian Cooking .
The result, she says, is duck skin that's "succulent" and "deliciously crisp" but not oily.
We'll explore exactly how the blow dryer helps crisp up poultry skin in a moment. But first, a bit of background — and some fun with chocolate.
The technique dates back to 1978, and it was pioneered by culinary guru , whom you might call the patron saint of Italian cooking in America.
The food scientists over at America's Test Kitchen three reasons to keep a hair dryer in the pantry:
1- relighting charcoals on the grill
2- putting a glossy sheen on cake frosting and
3- softening up a bar of chocolate to make it easier to shave off slivers.
Many of us don't have the time to give our cake frosting a professional blowout, but softening up chocolate struck a chord and made us immediately think of one thing: blow dryer s'mores!
Most hair dryers produce air that's about 200 degrees Fahrenheit when the nozzle is about 2 inches from a surface. That's the perfect temperature for melting chocolate (or butter) without burning it.
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