America loves novelty cooking methods. Earlier this year, we saw the ascendance of — and quick backlash against — dishwasher cooking, which is exactly what it sounds like (mmm, Cascade chicken piccata). And 2014 promises to bring another alternative method of meal-prep: Hair dryer cooking. "From s'mores to crispy duck," consider your hair dryer, says NPR.
Apparently the technique dates back to that culinary golden age we call the 1970s (maybe fondue was getting a little stale at the key parties). Italian cooking guru Marcella Hazan introduced the technique as part of her recipe for roast duck.
I use a blow dryer on my hair about twice a year, so I'd welcome something else to do with the appliance. But I make duck even less often than I blow-dry my hair (infinitely less often) — any other dishes that could be improved with a good blowout? NPR asked food scientists at America's Test Kitchen, who offered three situations where a hair dryer might come in handy in the kitchen.
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.
Most hair dryers produce air at about 200 degrees Fahrenheit, which is the perfect temperature for melting chocolate (or butter) without burning it, according to NPR, whose reporters used a blow dryer to make s'mores.
For cooking Peking duck, Hazan uses a hair dryer to replace the traditional step of hanging the bird out to dry for 10 to 12 hours. "Turn on the hair dryer and direct the hot air over the whole skin of the duck for 6 to 8 minutes," she writes in the Essentials of Classic Italian. The technique can be used for chicken, turkey, fish or anything that you want to rid of moisture quickly. It also seems to do wonders for unappetizing breakfast sandwiches: