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Old 02-19-2007, 08:02 PM   #1
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Butter/oil heating question

OK. I usually cook with margarine, adding olive oil (or EVOO) for flavor about halfway through. I do this because I always end up burning butter if I am trying to cook or brown something in it that takes a while.
Tonight I am trying Swiss steak for the first time. Not the red (tomato) kind, BTW, a James Beard recipe. The recipe says oil or butter to brown the meat, so I figure why not butter. I should mention I am using the SS saute pan that came in today, too. This is the second thing I've cooked in a SS pan. The heat is a little above medium on the knob.... quite a bit below high if you are judging by the flame height. I heat the pan. Using the hot pan cold oil philosophy, I add the butter after I feel the pan is heated. Before it is completely melted I add some olive oil and "roll" the pan to mix it up. I added the oil because I heard where it keeps butter from burning and I am already leery of that....

Well, before the butter is all melted, nothing is smoking and nothing is bubbling.... the liquid turned a medium brown. It doesn't smell burned and I reduced the heat even further immediately.... The meat browned up nicely when put in.... everything is smelling pretty good right now, but is it supposed to turn brown? Was I on the verge (sp?) of burning the butter again?

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Old 02-19-2007, 08:07 PM   #2
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I think you were about burnt. I was taught to heat the oil and then add the butter. That same cook used about 50-50 oil to butter.

I'm curious what the real chefs have to say. Although I would have browned off the meat in oil only and added the butter later in the cooking for the butter taste.
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Old 02-19-2007, 09:02 PM   #3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by pacanis
OK. I usually cook with margarine, adding olive oil (or EVOO) for flavor about halfway through. I do this because I always end up burning butter if I am trying to cook or brown something in it that takes a while.
Tonight I am trying Swiss steak for the first time. Not the red (tomato) kind, BTW, a James Beard recipe. The recipe says oil or butter to brown the meat, so I figure why not butter. I should mention I am using the SS saute pan that came in today, too. This is the second thing I've cooked in a SS pan. The heat is a little above medium on the knob.... quite a bit below high if you are judging by the flame height. I heat the pan. Using the hot pan cold oil philosophy, I add the butter after I feel the pan is heated. Before it is completely melted I add some olive oil and "roll" the pan to mix it up. I added the oil because I heard where it keeps butter from burning and I am already leery of that....

Well, before the butter is all melted, nothing is smoking and nothing is bubbling.... the liquid turned a medium brown. It doesn't smell burned and I reduced the heat even further immediately.... The meat browned up nicely when put in.... everything is smelling pretty good right now, but is it supposed to turn brown? Was I on the verge (sp?) of burning the butter again?

Help
Just use oil, especially for meat where the butter flavor isn't what is going to prevail. Maybe butter for seafood.
Butter has a low smoke/burn point. If you want to sear meat, the grease that you use has to be able to stand the heat. And your SS pan is the thing to use to sear/brown meat.
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Old 02-19-2007, 09:51 PM   #4
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Add a tablespoon of butter to the oil. When they are hot, the butter will begin to brown. That's not a bad thing. Brown butter adds a teriffic flavor to the food.

You don't have to turn down the heat, just add the meat and that will cool the pan enough to keep the butter from progressing beyond brown to burned.
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Old 02-19-2007, 10:46 PM   #5
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Use clarified butter (butter that has the milk solids and water taken out) - it has a much higher smoke point but still gives you a nice butter taste.
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Old 02-20-2007, 06:34 AM   #6
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Thanks for the comments.
I too think it was just about to burn, but everything came out great tasting so I guess I lucked out and got the good tatse of brown butter. If it had smelled burnt I would have started over, probably with just the oil. I'm thinking I should not have been waiting for the last of the butter to melt before adding the meat and next time will add the food rather than turning the heat down, but I thought the liquid wasn't hot enough yet.
Can you buy clarified butter? I hate to take the time to make it. I'll go back to margarine before that happens (lol).

Thanks again!
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Old 02-20-2007, 08:23 AM   #7
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Margerine will not behave the same as butter in a hot pan. I'd stick to the butter.

You can buy ghee in markets that cater to the Indian population. Ghee is clarified butter.
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Old 02-20-2007, 12:45 PM   #8
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Ghee.....
I've never heard of an Indian market around where I live. The only Indian restaurant closed 10 years ago even, but maybe I'll find some in the grocery superstore.
Thanks
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Old 02-21-2007, 03:08 PM   #9
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It is not all that difficult to melt some butter, and skim it.
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Old 03-01-2007, 03:36 PM   #10
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I've found that adding Pam cooking spray and then the margarine or butter, sometimes helps.

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