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Old 08-09-2009, 09:52 PM   #1
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Pan searing with less mess?

Hi

I'm trying to perfect making filet mignon and from what I've read, one of the best ways to do so is to sear it in a skillet and then transfer to the oven to finish. I've tried this and it turns out great, except that the skillet is an absolute disaster when I'm done. The pan is filthy and even worse - it is burned onto the pan. It takes me literally 20 minutes of scrubbing to clean my cookware. Now, I love a good steak, but I'm not sure if I'm willing to spend that much time and energy to clean a pan just for a piece of meat. But maybe I'm doing something wrong... is there any way to cook a steak in a skillet and not get such a mess? Maybe I'm using too high of heat? Maybe I'm using too little oil (I only rub oil on the steaks)?

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Old 08-09-2009, 10:31 PM   #2
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Get yourself a bottle of this and you'll be all set. You just spray it on the pan and let it sit for 15-30 minutes. clean-up is a snap.
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Old 08-10-2009, 05:40 AM   #3
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Pan searing steaks was the number one reason I had in mind when purchasing a cast iron skillet. I can get it super hot on the stove, sear the steaks on both sides, toss it into the oven for a few minutes and voila, a perfect steak - AND no noticeable staining and easy cleanup.

Cast iron isn't good for everything, but it beats all other materials when it comes to high heat, even heating and stain resistance (at least already being black, it makes no difference.
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Old 08-10-2009, 06:59 AM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Arky View Post
Pan searing steaks was the number one reason I had in mind when purchasing a cast iron skillet. I can get it super hot on the stove, sear the steaks on both sides, toss it into the oven for a few minutes and voila, a perfect steak - AND no noticeable staining and easy cleanup.

Cast iron isn't good for everything, but it beats all other materials when it comes to high heat, even heating and stain resistance (at least already being black, it makes no difference.
Exactly what I came to post.
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Old 08-10-2009, 09:15 AM   #5
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yep, can't beat a well-seasoned cast iron pan.
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Old 08-10-2009, 12:31 PM   #6
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There are a couple of things you can try.

- Yes, use more oil. Put a couple of teaspoons of oil (at least) in the pan.
- Your oil and pan should not be smoking. If it is, it's too hot.
- Pat your meat dry before putting it in the pan.
- Remove your meat from the fridge and let it stand at room temperature for up to 1/2 hour to take some of the chill off it.
- Once you add the meat to the pan, don't move it for a couple of minutes to allow the crust to develop. If you move it too soon, it will stick.
- If it's a particularly thick piece of meat, try Cook's Illustrated's method of starting the steak in the oven and searing it in the end. They put the steaks on a wire rack over a cookie sheet in the oven, if I remember correctly.

You should end up with fond (browned bits) after searing, but not a burnt-on mess. For a flavorful way to clean up the fond, make a pan sauce with it instead. :)
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Old 08-10-2009, 12:41 PM   #7
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Originally Posted by apple*tart View Post
- Your oil and pan should not be smoking. If it is, it's too hot.
I disagree with this. generally, a smoking pan is not a good thing, but when it comes to steaks you want the pan as hot as you can get it. One of the reasons steaks in restaurants sometimes taste better than steaks at home is because the restaurants can cook the steak at a much higher temperature than you can in your kitchen.

Quote:
Originally Posted by apple*tart View Post
Remove your meat from the fridge and let it stand at room temperature for up to 1/2 hour to take some of the chill off it.
I used to follow this advice, but leaving it out up to almost 2 hours before cooking. I recently got The Barbecue Bible by Steven Raichlen, who is one of the most well known and respected BBQ chefs in the US. In his book he mentions that many people leave their steaks out at room temp before cooking, but that not a single chef that he knows, including himself, bothers with this step. He said the small temperature difference it makes is insignificant. After read that I did a test. I cooked steaks for my wife and me (any excuse to cook a steak ) and had one that rested at room temp for 1.5 hours before cooking and the other that I cooked straight from the fridge. I was not able to tell a difference in the final product. Both cooked the same and at the same rate to the same degree of doneness and both tastes equally delicious.
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Old 08-10-2009, 01:51 PM   #8
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I think smoking oil is a bad thing, if for no other reason, because of what it does to the oil. I avoid it. I may not have mentioned this if it were a thread about the best way to cook steak, but in an effort to try to help the OP sear without trashing his pan, keeping the pan under the smoking point may help. It's worth a try, anyway.

The removing the beef from the fridge thing I haven't personally tried. It's something I read about and thought was worth suggesting. It piqued my interest because the temperature of eggs seems to make a big difference in whether they stick to the pan. Figured maybe it translated to other foods too, especially when I read about a similar technique being used for steak. The results of your test are really interesting, though! Did you happen to note whether there was a difference in your pan afterward?
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Old 08-10-2009, 02:16 PM   #9
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Dawn power dissolver is great if you use a SS or Aluminum pan. Cast iron or carbon steel is the other way to go.

I use SS if making a wine sauce in the pan at the end. So the dawn has a place under my sink.
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Old 08-10-2009, 02:24 PM   #10
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Use a high sided cast iron pot like a Dutch oven to cut down on grease spatter.
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