Nov 17, 2017

Techniques for NOT burning the inside of your pan?

Hi folks - wanted to see if there are any special techniques for not burning the inside of your pan when cooking on the stovetop? Sounds elementary, but could be some techniques out there I don't know about? Treating the meat/fish/poultry before placing in pan? Adding something to the pan different than non stick cooking spray before beginning? Just curious if you have found something unique, maybe even by accident?

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For fish I tend to add more oil, also you'll have to understand what's in the pan and their burning point. Usually when I sear steak at high temperatures I use grapeseed oil, only adding butter after that when the fire's turned down
Turn down the temperature?
Is it burnt, or just browned? Burnt can't be saved, but if you've got a nice fond going on, my suggestion is to embrace it, deglaze with some wine or stock, and use cream to build a nice pan sauce. If you are burning it, turn down the temperature as others have noted, then you should be able to build the sauce. This does a nice job of explaining the technique:
If you like cooking at a higher heat, why not switch to a wok or cast-iron pan? Cast iron will distribute the heat more evenly, and with woks you can push food from the "hot spots" on the bottom to the cooler spots on the sides.
Burning the sides or burning the bottom? Burning the sides where the curves are is a fault of the pan design rather than anything the cook can do to help it, if the burning is around the inside of a bulge in your pan then that's not going to go away as the flame of a gas burner lick up to the sides and create hotspots. If you're asking how to mitigate burning on the bottom of the pan, like when making soups, stews or sauces then that can be helped with temperature control and a pan with a heavier base.
Temperature control works really well. Natural oils and fats are very helpful at preventing sticking and avoiding burned on bits, though pay attention to smoke points (olive for example smokes at a relatively low temperature). With soft flaky fish for example, don't rush it and let the crust build a little and release everything from the pan. Medium heat with a little butter works really well for me in good stainless steel pans similar to yours with most vegetables and proteins. I have turned out some awesome fried eggs this way with luscious yolks and tender whites that are very nice. A steak with a good sear in butter and some garlic is another awesome combination when you spoon the melted butter over it and finish in the oven. If you don't overheat things, they clean up easily with a paper towel or synthetic scrubbie and a bit of dish soap.

High heat will burn more often causing food to stick and non-stick sprays leave residue behind that will burn on as well. Gummy non-stick cooking spray residue is a problem many people overlook as it is very hard to clean off and burns over time with heat. Also, look at the ingredients in your cooking spray, many of them contain silicone which while slick is not something I want to ingest or scrape off a pan.

Your cooking technique is 99%+ of what keeps your pans from becoming a blackened speckled mess that is near impossible to clean to a sparkle or bright sheen like they were when new. I can cook in pans my mother can't in her kitchen and her stove because I don't rush and overheat things like she does. Patience in the kitchen and a little extra time in meal prep are good steps in the right direction for cooking great meals without some of the side effects of a rushed high heat meal preparation routine.
Sometimes food burns and sticks to pan's and pot's a bit. Accept it and clean it when needed.
You can buy a cast iron circle that fits between the pan and a burner that you can't get low enough for the cooking technique that you want to use, like a very low simmer or to saute something like garlic that burns very easily. Most good cooking stores will have them. Might be a good item for Massdrop to offer.
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Lids to tin cans work well for a DIY diffuser!
Great idea for camping!
Starting out just pretend medium is high.
I was always told the only time high should be used is to boil water. If you're not trying to sear the shit out of something do as the above poster says
Your temperature knob isn’t just an on-off switch. Use lower temps than you think you need for a lot of your cooking. Allow your pans to heat up before adding your food. Drop a little water in the pan before you add your food. If it just sizzles, it’s not warm enough. If it flashes instantly to steam, it’s too hot. If it beads and rolls around like a drop of mercury, it’s just right. There are exceptions, of course. A nice really hot cast iron pan for your steaks gives a nice crust, and you need it hot for boiling pasta and reducing. Watch professional chefs on Youtube and tv. They’ve usually got a lot of good info.
First, what jkiemele said.

Second, turn the heat down and let your food warm up to room temperature out of the fridge.
For example: Can't fry an egg in a stainless pan? Set the egg on the counter the night before, then heat the pan gently in the morning with a touch of butter or canola oil. When the egg sets, turn the heat off. Wipe the skillet out with a paper towel when done with breakfast.
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Japanese eggs are sold room temperature -- not sure about washing. But a large number of them are eaten raw, including by the elderly and kids, mixed with rice, in sukiyaki, as barely cooked onsen tamago, and so on (and there are restaurants that specialize in raw chicken).

In countries where eggs are eaten raw you get about the same number of salmonella cases as in countries where they aren't, but to achieve this result fewer eggs are contaminated to begin with. Salmonella contaminated eggs in the U.S. are often never discovered because they aren't eaten raw. At any rate, salmonella is a specific bacteria that doesn't self-create when an egg is left at room temperature. If it's already there it can multiply, and there may be other harmful bacteria already in the egg besides salmonella.

At any rate, one of the things you notice living abroad are these differential conceptions of risk. Japanese tend not to use helmets on bicycles, except for very small children, and the same in many European countries. When you run the numbers of this kind of thing you find that two things of equal risk are considered to be completely different levels of risk in different countries. Country A will think that X is really risky but not Y; country B will think that Y is really risky but not X.

I'd give more examples, but they often get quasi-political, so I'll leave it at that.

Perceived risk and real risk are different things. Often, perceived risk has no support in terms of real danger of worse outcomes in a reasonably large sample of outcomes. In terms of general health, it could be argued that the intense focus to eliminate 'germs' has gone a long way to weaken immune systems. Personally, I don't use antibacterial hand soap as one example because our bodies depend on them for digestion and good health and these soaps don't discriminate against good and bad bacteria.

On the flip side, there are things out in the world that can make you extremely ill and put your life at risk. In my case, I got camphlobacter jujuni not from something I ate (under cooked chicken being a common source) but, from a dairy most likely from an infected milk cow.

In my case, I still eat soft boiled eggs and have no issue setting out an egg the night before for an 'over easy' egg with breakfast. Whether this makes sense or is safe for someone else is for them to decide.
What kind of pans are you using?
Clad cookware. 5 layer.
Be careful. Even those really nice skillet bottoms can warp on too-high heat.

If you accidentally cook too hot and you burn the bottom, it's easy to get it off by heating up some white vinegar while stirring up the black fond as it boils off. May even work with plain water, but the acid in vinegar (or wine, or fruit juice, etc.) works faster.

You might be surprised how dark fond can get and still be a delicious sauce base. Keep some cheap (but drinkable) white wine (Aldi grocery store's White White Owl?) handy by the stove just in case! Anything before very dark brown might be salvageable.
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