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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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.
This is not inline with the best food safety practices.
Letting an egg or steak sit on a counter in a house may not be recommended for infants or the elderly but, assuming you cook it properly the risk of foodborne illness is miniscule in a house of reasonable cleanliness and modern HVAC. Raw eggs and meat left on a picnic table is a totally different thing.

Eggs sold in Europe are generally unrefrigerated and European food laws and safety are much stricter than in the USA. Food handling and under cooking are the worst offenders of food borne illness. I guess I should note that I also don't fear drinking unpasteurized milk or eating Sushi either.

A good sear on a room temperature steak to me tastes better as the cooking is more even whether you want it pink in the center or well done. I also don't refrigerate farm eggs for my own consumption. Battery hens are a totally different subject. YMMV
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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