This is probably the first and last time that you'll see a skinless boneless chicken breast on my blog. No, they were not particularly tasty, but they did serve as a good test of Kenmore Elite burners.
I am fortunate to have friends who put up with my obsessions and crazy experiments. D + TW had me over for lunch today and let me play with their Kenmore Elite. Since it's impossible for me to play with different BTU burners on my own range (they are all 9,000), I thought it would be fun to sear the same thing on their most powerful (18,000 btu) and least powerful (5,000 btu) burners to see the difference. Chicken breasts seemed like good test material. They show off browning well due to their pale color, and are relatively cheap (so in case searing on 5,000btu burner is a bad idea, I wouldn't waste much money).
The 18,000 btu burner definitely had some umph when turned on high -- too much umph for a 10 inch skillet I was using. The flames were hugging my skillet from the sides and I had to turn it down a few notches to get them to stay under the skillet. I imagine it would be nice for a 12 inch skillet. The skillet came to temp in about 2 minutes and the chicken breasts browned beautifully and quickly. I kept lowering the heat to keep them from burning. Towards the end I was on medium-low. I was very happy with the color I got (see the picture above).
The 5,000 btu burner took 4 minutes to preheat the skillet (I think I should have waited even longer). I ran it on high the whole time and the breasts developed a golden color eventually, but not quiet as dark as the ones I cooked on the powerful burner. I don't think I'd be happy with 5,000 btu output. It was noticeably weaker than my 9,000 btu. But living without 18,000 btu burner will be fine too. My guess is something like 9,000-12,000 would be most useful unless you need to boil a lot of water quickly.
The broiler was fabulous. Browned salmon very evenly and in only 4 minutes. We set it on "High" and preheated it for 15-20 minutes before cooking the fish. After consulting the specs, I found out that the broiler is only rated at 12,500 btu. Somehow it did a better job than my 16,000 btu one.
The best part of all these experiments was having lunch with D+TW. They made a great salad with falafel mix and wheat berries with mushroom broth.