Friday, September 21, 2012

Tools of the Trade: Immersion Blenders

     I have found that there is a big difference between a kitchen gadget and a kitchen utensil.  Gadgets tend to be cute and not entirely necessary. They exist to simplify minor tasks, but mostly take up space in a drawer.  A utensil, by definition, is a useful tool. One of my favorite utensils is one I find myself turning to time and time again in the kitchen.

No, but it does get a lot of use.
     I'm talking about the immersion/stick blender.  This is such a ridiculously simple concept. It's just a little, whirling blade on the end of a stick. Fundamentally it's just a weed-whacker with a blade attachment (I do not recommend at all using a weed-whacker in the kitchen, but if you do, send pictures). The basic models have no features other than maybe a speed control.  The reason it's so useful is that it saves you from having to transfer ingredients to a blender or food processor. You simply blend right in the pan or pot (try to avoid using it in coated non-stick cookware as you might scratch the finish with the blender). It's a pain in the butt having to try to transfer hot soup ingredients back and forth when you're trying to make a cream soup. This saves you that step.

     There's all sorts of uses for a stick blender. I use mine for blending soups, sauces and milkshakes.  There's a ton of models to choose from, with a wide range of price points. I'll touch on a couple. At the lower end, is the Hamilton Beach 59738 "Proctor Silex" 2-Speed 150-Watt.

Hamilton Beach 59738 $20.00
     This blender costs a shade under twenty bucks. At 150 Watts, it's got a fair amount of power, but may struggle with heavier jobs like milkshakes and the like. It's got two speeds and will tackle most of the jobs you throw at it in the kitchen. It's a solid, bare-bones immersion blender. Moving up on the price scale is the Miallegro 9090 Mittuto 550-Watt.
Miallegro 9090 $70.00
     The Miallegro runs about fifty dollars more than the Hamilton Beach, but gives you far more to play with. It's a 550 Watt multi-speed blender. It's got more than enough power to do pretty much anything you ask of it. It has a whisk and blender attachment with multiple blades. It will do the job of a basic immersion blender, and electric whisk, and a small food processor. 

     My immersion blender of choice is the Braun model which is currently unavailable, which is a shame. It's an adjustable speed 400 Watt with two mixers, a whisk, and ice crusher attachment and a milkshake cup. I assure you it is awesome. And you can't get it. Enjoy!

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