18 February 2014

A broken stove and a butterflied chicken

We are waiting for a repairman this morning. Our cooking stove is on the blink. Talk about an emergency!

Actually, our stove is what is called « une cuisinière mixte » in French — it is equipped with three gas burners and one electric burner. That's handy when we have a power outage, because we can still cook and boil water on the gas burners. The electric burner, however, is very good for simmering and slow cooking. I probably use it more than any other burner in my everyday cooking.

It's the electric burner that's giving us a problem. All of a sudden, last week, when I turned it on, the whole house went dark. Computers crashed and we groaned, knowing that we'd have to spend time resetting a bunch of digital clocks in different rooms. At first I thought it was a coincidence that the electricity went off just as I turned the knob on the stove and that we had had a generalized power outage at that moment. Alas, it wasn't that. Turning the switch on the stove had caused our main circuit breaker down in the utility room to trip.

Instead of roasting yesterday's chicken on the spit in the oven, I butterflied it and roasted it
on a rack in an oven pan over a little boiling chicken broth.

The stove, a Brandt model that we bought in 2008, also has an electric oven. The oven, happily, kept working normally. We thought we'd probably end up buying a new stove, while continuing to use this one as long as we needed to without the plaque electrique. Then I started looking at the cuisinières available from Darty, Boulanger, Amazon.fr, and other major vendors. I couldn't find one that had combination of features that the Brandt stove has, at a reasonable price. The Brandt, for example, has a rotisserie (un tourne-broche) that we really like to use for roasting poultry, and it has a pyrolyse oven-cleaning cycle that's very effective, along with the mix of heating elements.

The chicken was a farm-raised, Label Rouge, bird from Brittany, and it was delicious. It'll be cold chicken for lunch today.

So I called the Brandt help line. I explained the problem. The woman on the phone said she could send a repairman out in about 10 days to fix it — for a price, of course, but it will cost less than buying a new stove. We are optimistic the man will show up this morning and will have on his truck the new part that he'll surely need to make the electric burner work again. Meanwhile, this will be a good chance to pull the stove out from the wall and clean well under and behind it. Maybe we'll get another five or six years of good service out of it.


  1. "...resetting a bunch of digital clocks in different rooms...

    We are getting regular power outs here...
    we are at the end of the line...
    and we think someone has installed something nearby, recently, that sucks power when it switches on!

    But, hey, it's excercise...
    and the clocks don't feel neglected!!

    Love the pic of the "Spatchcock Chicken"... very appetizing...
    so appetizing, I'll have to go and pull a chunk off the cold one that is in the oven!!

  2. Tim, I know that you use that term "spatchcocked" in the UK, but I don't think it's much or at all used in North America. It sounds pretty violent, as if the poor bird has been (di)spatch(ed) by being (cold)cocked. Butterflied sounds so much more dignified and elegant.

  3. Life without a stove would be tough for you two!

    I was going to say here's your chance to go out for a good meal, but it turns out that you still have plenty of burners and an oven to cook with.

    If you did want to go out, you'd have some good choices, unlike here where we are far far far from a decent restaurant.

  4. True, Ken, about the terms spatchcocked and butterflied.

    Yikes! Good luck with the stove! It certainly seems that a stove that young ought to be fix-able.

    My mom's furnace fan was struggling and finally kicked off this weekend, and we thought it would be repairable.... but, she's getting a new furnace today, instead. However, her unit is almost 30 years old, not 7, like your cooker!

  5. Just sent an e-mail to your mother for her birthday.

  6. Bad news about the stove. The repair guy said it would cost more to fix it than to buy a new stove. Can you believe it?

  7. sorry about ur stove....i just had to buy a new one right before thanksgiving after mine quit after a couple of decades....urs is relatively new....
    we use spatchcock around here

  8. That's crazy! It should have years on it yet. A suggestion - get a free-standing induction hotplate and sit it on the old one. They're pretty good, and you can use it outside, say for keeping food warm at barbecues, if it ever stops raining.

  9. Ken, yes I do agree...
    butterflied sounds far more elegant.

    But my process for flattening a small chicken is to "welly it with a rolling pin"...
    which is quite a violent way of preparing it....
    but not quite as violent as tenderising a steak!!

    Then I insert the skewers in the form of a St.Andrew's Cross... also a bit violent...
    cooking can be quite a violent pastime, can it not!?

  10. Oh, darn!!! Why is that always the case! Same as with my mom's furnace... we were sure that a new fan motor would have done it.

    Hope you can find a new stove that you like!

  11. Sometime in the recent past, appliances got reengineered to last less than 10 years. Great for the manufacturers, not so great for us. Current expected life of a new frig is 9 years, I'm told.

    Hope you can find a range that pleases you.

  12. Planned Obsolescence.

    You make the best chicken even with a broken stove.



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