Convenience of use
The Plancha Booster can be used at the table, but it takes up a little space with its imposing power supply unit to be connected in the extension of the already relatively long plate. It is also necessary to provide an extension cord since its cable is, conversely, a little short (1.20 m). As on the Colormania XL, the plate rests on a plastic base, but Tefal offers here a much more sober black color.
The plate in question offers a cooking surface of 50 x 26 cm with a “booster area” on the right half. This allows you to benefit from a surplus of power thanks to a dedicated resistance for cooking thick meats. It is activated and deactivated using a simple button, while a graduated dimmer from 1 to 6 allows the power to be adjusted for the entire plate.
Despite the use of a non-stick coating, the “booster zone” allowed us to obtain a nice color on a steak. However, this is not comparable with what can be obtained on a stainless steel plate like that of the Plancha Pro by Lagrange, and we would still have preferred to find truly independent cooking zones, with a dimmer for each, as on the Riviera & Bar QPL665. Some models, like the Plancha Saveur double from Krampouz, even offer thermostats allowing you to select a temperature for each zone.
The Plancha Booster does not include a real heating indicator. The indicator light above the dimmer lights up when it’s plugged in and the Booster control includes another to show it’s on, but none to show the status of the resistor. To know when the plate is hot, Tefal nevertheless incorporates its famous Thermospot indicator: a pellet whose patterns disappear from a certain temperature.
Thanks to the non-stick coating, food does not stick to the plate during cooking. It is therefore not necessary to add fat, but it will be necessary in return to take care to use only wooden or plastic utensils in order to preserve it. If however fat is used, or if the food simply renders water or juice, small openings are provided to allow the liquids to flow out of the plate. A large drip tray is provided below, and the plate is slightly inclined to facilitate drainage.
It should be noted, however, that Tefal does not include an anti-splash rim. This certainly allows all the guests to easily access the plate if the device is used in the center of the table, but it is therefore better to add protection. While it is better to opt for heat-resistant protection, we did not notice any excessive heating under the device. The turn can however heat up, but not as much as that of the Lono Grill and Plancha.
When not in use, the Plancha Booster can be stored quite easily by removing the power cord. Note that it is not possible to leave it outside without shelter, since it is not weatherproof, unlike the Plancha Pro by Lagrange, for example. Tefal even advises against using it outdoors.
Ease of maintenance
The Plancha Booster must be cleaned after each use. The operation is done after the appliance has completely cooled, to avoid burning yourself of course, but also because the non-stick coatings do not withstand thermal shocks well. It is therefore preferable to avoid deglazing to loosen the residue, contrary to what can be done on a stainless steel plate.
Always in order to preserve this coating, it is also not recommended to use an abrasive sponge, but it also allows not to have to rub too much to eliminate residues. A simple sponge with water and dishwashing liquid is therefore sufficient to clean the plate by hand. It is also possible to put it entirely under water in the sink, but, since it is not removable, the plate must be taken with the base and the assembly can be difficult to handle. You can also put everything in the dishwasher, but the dimensions are again binding.
Of course, the device must be unplugged and its drive removed before being cleaned, and you must also remember to remove the juice collector before moving it. It pulls out like a drawer. It can then be cleaned by hand or in the dishwasher.
The Plancha Booster is equipped with a 2200 W resistance and a power variator graduated from 1 to 6, with intermediate notches to adjust the power even more finely.
Before using the appliance, it must be preheated. It is therefore advisable to set it to maximum power and wait. The Plancha Booster is not particularly fast, but far from being as slow as the Plancha Pro from Lagrange and the Plancha Saveur double from Krampouz with their thick stainless steel plate. After 3 min 35 s, the plate has reached the reference temperature defined for our tests, namely 230°C. However, it is preferable to let the Plancha Booster preheat longer since it ended up rising to 310°C. The temperature then drops and remains at more reasonable levels.
We were also able to leave it on power 6 to continue our measurements, since it is ultimately the one that allows us to approach 230°C at most after preheating. It must nevertheless be recognized that approaching is a very big word for the Plancha Booster. Like all planchas, it alternates heating and pause phases to stabilize the temperature, but these are too long and the plate too thin to retain heat. This results in variations of plus or minus 100°C depending on the measurement point chosen on the plate, which risks slowing down the cooking of the food.
This is also a fairly common problem at Tefal: all the planchas of the brand that we have tested so far struggle to stabilize the temperature. Perhaps it would do well to take a little inspiration from WMF, also in the Seb group and at the origin of the Lono Grill and Plancha which does not let the temperature drop more than 50°C.
On the side of homogeneity, it is not really glorious either. We noted up to 80°C difference on the cooking surface during the heating phases. And the main resistance is content to follow the edge of the plate without passing through the center. By activating the booster, the homogeneity improves on the right half since a second resistance lights up in the center of the zone, but it then becomes impossible to cook foods that are too fragile since the temperature is higher there.
The temperature becomes more uniform when the Plancha Booster stops heating, but as indicated above, it can then drop by 100°C and slow down the cooking of food.