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Old 05-22-2009, 02:46 PM   #11
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You, Andy, and the old chemist seem to be voices in the wilderness. That's not to say you're wrong, of course, but it seems that every recognized cooking expert disagrees.

It may not be necessary to preheat the pan, but obviously it can't hurt to do so, and a lot of people who are a lot more experienced in the kitchen than all of us combined say you should. Since it's no harder to do that, I think I'll stick with the expert cooks' advice (or at least try to -- I confess that I don't always preheat my pan, as shocking as that may seem to you).

Here's another bit from Harold McGee, the New York Times food columnist who knows a thing or two about kitchen science:

Harold McGee on When to Put Oil in a Pan

By The New York Times
(Photo: Lars Klove for The New York Times)


Q: Is there a difference between adding oil to a hot pan (classic advice) or heating the oil in the pan? Same with butter.
Posted by jonathan

Harold McGee replies: It is indeed better to heat the pan first, then add the oil or butter. The longer the oil spends in contact with the hot surface, especially metal, the more time it has to be broken down by the extreme conditions and exposure to oxygen. Broken-down oil gets viscous and gummy, and even a slight degree of this can contribute to sticking and residues on the food. This happens more slowly with saturated fats like butter, but unclarified butter has milk solids that can scorch with excessive heat.
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Old 05-22-2009, 02:59 PM   #12
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Andy, myself, and the "old chemist" are the only one cited in here, but there are others who feel this way. I have seen chefs on FoodTV (I know that is not necessarily a ringing endorsement) agree that it does not matter what order it is done. Surely Andy, myself, and Dr. Wolke are not the only ones on this planet who think this way.

I have the utmost respect for Mr. McGee. I do not disagree with what he says in the blurb you provided nor do I disagree with the same information you posted in your other blurb, but again while it is technically correct, practically (and I say this from my own personal experiences) it does not matter.
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Old 05-22-2009, 03:06 PM   #13
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Thanks, everyone. I'll try letting my food cook for a while before trying to turn it. I assume this policy is the same for non-meats (e.g. tofu) as well?
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Old 05-22-2009, 04:39 PM   #14
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Scotch, that's a lot of research. Thanks for taking the time to do it.

I couldn't help notice that NONE of your sources addressed the sticking issue as it relates to when you add the oil. All the reasons given for why to add the oil to a hot pan relate to reasons other than a food sticking problem - the issue under discussion.
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Old 05-22-2009, 07:22 PM   #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Andy M. View Post
Scotch, that's a lot of research. Thanks for taking the time to do it.

I couldn't help notice that NONE of your sources addressed the sticking issue as it relates to when you add the oil. All the reasons given for why to add the oil to a hot pan relate to reasons other than a food sticking problem - the issue under discussion.
Read it again. McGee says this about that: "Broken-down oil gets viscous and gummy, and even a slight degree of this can contribute to sticking and residues on the food."
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Old 05-22-2009, 08:47 PM   #16
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Oops, missed that.

I won't disagree with McGee. He knows his stuff. However, I have never experienced oil's getting viscous and gummy when I add the oil to a cold pan and heat it all together. It actually gets thinner and less viscous.

I would guess the oil would have to be on the heat for quite a bit of time above the oil's smoke point for that to happen.
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Old 05-22-2009, 09:03 PM   #17
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Andy M. View Post
Oops, missed that.

I won't disagree with McGee. He knows his stuff. However, I have never experienced oil's getting viscous and gummy when I add the oil to a cold pan and heat it all together. It actually gets thinner and less viscous.

I would guess the oil would have to be on the heat for quite a bit of time above the oil's smoke point for that to happen.
I suspect the differences are mostly theoretical.
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Old 05-23-2009, 08:05 AM   #18
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Originally Posted by CyberSlag5k View Post
I got a beautiful set of stainless steel Calphalon pots and pans as a wedding present. Previously, I was using a simple non-stick set. I'm finding it a little difficult to transition, at least when sauteing things.

The pants came with a little insert that said it is recommended that I use low to medium heat. Does that mean with everything? I haven't gone above medium yet, and I seem to have enough heat, but everything is sticking horribly, and I have to scrub for a while to clean the pan.

I rent, so I'm stuck with an electric range. What I do is put some oil in the pan and let it heat up to the "sizzle point", and then add my ingredients. Should I start even doing things on medium-low? Is that hot enough for things like meat? I want to make sure things are properly cooked, but the sticking is costing me food while cooking (because it's stuck to the pan) and time cleaning.
With AllClad's stainless tri-clad saute pan, we've had the same experience you describe and All-Clads instructions are similar to those in the insert described by you.
Our workaround has been to deglaze the pan with wine. This cleans up the pan pretty well and provides a basis for some tasty sauces and gravies.
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Old 05-23-2009, 08:35 AM   #19
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With the SS All-clad, we've also noticed that the cooking of foods like asparagus or tomato seems to dissipate minor spotting, staining, or discoloration that was not readily removed by gentle scouring with Bonami.
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