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Old 01-04-2012, 12:10 PM   #1
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Back to basics - hot pan?

ok I find myself having to go back to basics sometimes. I always thought hot pan is key. Heat the pan with nothing in it until hot. You always hear Gordan Ramsay emphasing this right? Wether it's meat, eggs, what have you. Get the pan hot first.

Not sure what is going on, but lately, as soon as I drop say a tablespoon or two of butter into the HOT pan - it starts turning brown right away.

or if I say try to put butter in the pan followed by diced onions - the onions don't even have a chance to cook before they start burning fairly quickly.

I can't recall this always happening. the concept of hot pan is true right? Can it get too hot? Is it possibly the pan or pans I'm using. Wear and Tear something.

: )
Thanks!

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Old 01-04-2012, 12:15 PM   #2
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Oh yeah. It can get too hot. Not all pans are created equal, either. You just got to time it right. I would pull the pan from the heat right away if things start to sizzle too much when you drop anything into it. It's just a matter of getting to know your stove and your pans....I would rather err on the side of too cool as opposed to too hot. At least you don't have to start over.
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Old 01-04-2012, 12:23 PM   #3
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The real question is HOW hot does it have to be. I'd say you got the pan too hot.

This is a hard question to give a pat answer to. Some of it depends on what you're cooking.

The basic truth is that the pan and the fat should both be hot before you add the food. If butter is browning instantly, try a little less hot.

When I heat a pan, I flick a drop or two of water into the pan to see how hot it is. The water should hiss and evaporate quickly. If the bead(s) of water dance around on the pan, it's probably too hot for most applications.
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Old 01-04-2012, 12:44 PM   #4
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I guess in most cases, I'm either putting Extra Virgin Olive Oil, or Unsalted butter into the Hot Pan to begin with. Sometimes if I'm cooking meat - I'll just put the meat in without putting the oil or butter in first. but, usually it's olive oil or butter followed by onions and garlic etc.

Or things like scrambled eggs or omelets.

Thanks for the advise. I'll have to keep a more keen eye. I know if the pan is not hot enuf, it will cook differently. Example would be cooking scallops - you won't get them crisp if the pan isn't hot enough.
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Old 01-04-2012, 01:09 PM   #5
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If you use a combination of oil and butter, it won't brown as quickly.
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Old 01-04-2012, 01:32 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Andy M. View Post
If you use a combination of oil and butter, it won't brown as quickly.
Really? I hadn't noticed, but sometimes I am a bit oblivious. All I noticed is that it both butter and olive oil can handle higher heat when combined, or at least seem to.

Not as quickly as in butter alone or as in oil alone?
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Old 01-04-2012, 01:43 PM   #7
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...as butter alone.

Add a glug of oil then plop your butter into the oil. It doesn't prevent butter's burning, it just slows it down.
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Old 01-04-2012, 02:20 PM   #8
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[QUOTE=legend_018;1091600]I guess in most cases, I'm either putting Extra Virgin Olive Oil, or Unsalted butter into the Hot Pan to begin with. /QUOTE]

Note that EVOO and butter are two oils that can't take a lot of heat. EVOO smokes at about 406F. Butter at about 350F. Both have too much non-oil matter to stand the heat. but you can see while adding EVOO to butter gives you a bit more heat tolerance.

Consider Extra Light Olive Oil that smokes at 465F and clarified butter at 485F. Canola oil and palm oil are also in that range. Safflower oil will go to about 510F, making it the highest smoke point among the common cooking oils. Peanut oil, at 450F, is popular for deep frying, because its smoke point is comfortably over the 400F deep frying target, and it's cheaper than most of the higher temperature oils with smoke points wastefully high for frying.

Cooking with EVOO is less than economical. It stands less heat, and it's flavor qualities are largely lost. I cook hot with extra light and buy good fruttato olive oil for cold dressing where the flavorful components that lend it the green color can be tasted.
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Old 01-04-2012, 02:57 PM   #9
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I just use the EVOO for everything. I found that when I tried to be miserly with it, it didn't get used up fast enough and went off.
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Old 01-04-2012, 03:35 PM   #10
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Sometime back I became aware that Avocado oil has a very high smoke point, 520F. One source says it has the highest smoke point of any natural oil. I'm curious if any forum members have cooked with Avocado oil. If so, what were your experiences? Does it have any taste that alters the recipe?
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