Tuesday, April 29, 2008
New technology: Ipinium
On one of my recent train travels, I leafed through the magazine on board, and found an interesting article about Ipinium: a totally new sort of baking sheet made from a certain new metal. (Or well, not a new metal per se, but a new mix of metals. I won't go into the really technical stuff. Mostly because I can't.) It seemed really cool, and I scribbled down the website address.
A while later, I wrote them an e-mail, asking if this was available commercially, and got an enthusiastic invitation to come and visit their demo kitchen. Of course, that's not something I'd refuse. So I spent a delightful afternoon with the Ipinium team, eating and listening to all the wonders of this new product. Essentially, it's all about heat retainment and heat transfer, and in effect, you can use the oven to fry and grill rather than just to bake. They have two products out at the moment: one double-sided baking sheet which is smooth on one side, ridged on the other, and a funny looking contraption with four sharp sticks, perfect for baking potatoes. (I haven't tried that one yet, but I'll show you photos when I do.) They work in any oven, since you just use your existing rack to put the sheet on. However, this works best with convection ovens, apparently.
So, what does it do? Well, you preheat the sheet, then place whatever you want to cook on it, as dry as possible and at room temperature. No oil, no butter, no marinades. Just plain. You can add fat or seasonings later. The selling point is that not only does it cook a lot faster (it really does - sliced potatoes take about 10 minutes, salmon, meat or chicken takes 7-8.) but you get a really good surface crust. Which is kind of surprising with no fats, but it really does work. I've only tried salmon and potatoes at home, but it was definitely a success. I tried bacon on the smooth side, and that, too, was great. With bacon, I had a lower temperature - about 225°C. With the salmon and potatoes, I had it all the way up to 275°C as was suggested to me. You have to have the sheet really warm to get the surface to really brown. (Probably the Maillard reaction, right?)
A rimmed baking sheet is next in their production, which I think will be *very* convenient for, say, slow braises? You could brown it directly in the sheet, giving your meat a good color, and then lower the heat and add braising liquid.
As for me, I want to try baking on this. I don't have a baking stone, and I think this will be a pretty good substitute. I've also tried roasting peppers on this, and that went brilliantly. It was a lot faster than usual - that's really nice. I don't have a gas stove, so I can't roast them over open flames as so many suggest, so the oven is really it for me.
If you're interested in learning more, you can drop an e-mail to email@example.com - you can tell them I sent you! The products are available online from their website, but also in some stores. Not sure how they've expanded abroad yet, but I think they're about to launch in several countries.