A decent heat gun runs about $15 or $20 at your local hardware store. They’re usually used for stripping paint, thawing frozen pipes, and drying plaster. I’m not really into stuff like that. I bought this high-powered industrial tool to melt chocolate. But then I saw on the box that the thing goes up to 1000F/540C (holy cow!) and realized it could have some serious culinary applications.
A quick search at egullet reveals that people use heat guns to roast coffee beans and that Chef Grant Achatz even experimented with using one for a dish at Alinea. But the best use I found online was this short mention of using a heat gun to crisp duck skin.
Crisping up every last square inch of skin on a roast chicken usually means the underlying meat will be overcooked. Even if you butterfly and broil the fowl, as suggested by Alton Brown, there will inevitably be morsels left wet and flabby rather than crisp and decadent.
Enter heat gun.
As you can see in the above picture, this bird has already been roasted and then quickly broiled to develop a good crisp all over. But the heat gun, set on the “high” setting, allowed me to quickly finish off the pieces of skin that escaped the heat of the broiler.
See my geeky guide to broiler science here.
I’ve played around just a little with the heat gun for other uses. The “low” setting (700F/370C) was great for quickly melting chocolate for dipping and for warming up leftover bread. Make sure to put the target food on a heat-proof surface before turning the gun on. Oh, and it doesn’t really work on sugar – the fan blows the crystals away before they get to heat up.
What would you use a high-powered heat gun for?