Help - burning hashbrowns in stainless

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PaulFWI

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I used to be able to make perfect hash browns every time. Brown, crispy, perfectly done. This was in a 12" cast iron skillet on on electric stove.

We got a gas stove and bought expensive stainless steel cookware. I have now ruined hashbrowns five times in a row and cannot figure it out.

They stick and burn just a little bit, which prevents heat transfer and makes them mushy and gross. I am using peanut oil and never turn the burner past 2 out of 10. I let the pan preheat slowly - at least eight minutes - use 2 Tbsp of oil (as before) - and put the potatoes in when the oil just starts to smoke.

What am I doing wrong?
 

Chief Longwind Of The North

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I have had the best luck when using gas stores by using a heat diffuser. This spreads the flame heat evenly across the pan bottom. Also, I heat the pan until water skittle across the surface. then add the oil, and swirl to coat. Make sure that your hash browns are as dry as possible before placing onto the cooking pan. Let the spuds cook until they start to brown on the edges, then use a thin, metal spatula to flip them. Season after they are cooked.

Heat didusers - https://www.amazon.com/heat-diffuser-gas-burner/s?k=heat+diffuser+for+gas+burner

Seeeeya; Chief Longwind of the North
 

dragnlaw

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Go back to what you used to do... using your Cast Iron. They were made for gas/wood stoves!

Plus your CI is probably almost a non-stick pan now. Your CI will distribute the heat more evenly - doing what the diffuser does for the SS.
 

Andy M.

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While it's a good idea to preheat cast iron for 8 minutes, it's not such a good idea for stainless steel. CI takes a long time to heat up while SS heats quickly.

Just heat the SS pan briefly, add your fat then proceed with the recipe. Hot pan, hot fat then cook.
 

PaulFWI

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I have had the best luck when using gas stores by using a heat diffuser. This spreads the flame heat evenly across the pan bottom. Also, I heat the pan until water skittle across the surface. then add the oil, and swirl to coat. Make sure that your hash browns are as dry as possible before placing onto the cooking pan. Let the spuds cook until they start to brown on the edges, then use a thin, metal spatula to flip them. Season after they are cooked.

Heat didusers - https://www.amazon.com/heat-diffuser-gas-burner/s?k=heat+diffuser+for+gas+burner

Seeeeya; Chief Longwind of the North

I'll try heating before putting the oil in. Surely then you must again wait until the oil smokes before adding the hashbrowns?

About how long does it take to brown the first side?

On the electric with cast iron, it would be about 7 minutes per side for a perfect brown layer.

P.S. I'll go back to cast iron only as a last resort. We spent $800 on this cookware set...
 
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HI.
No expert here. I use stainless for about 90% of my cooking. Your temperature is too low - 2 of 10. Even on a properly preheated pan once food is added temp would drop. I would suggest you cook at medium temp like 4-5-6 on a scale of 10, and you still have to preheat your pan.
Good Luck.
 

PaulFWI

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HI.
No expert here. I use stainless for about 90% of my cooking. Your temperature is too low - 2 of 10. Even on a properly preheated pan once food is added temp would drop. I would suggest you cook at medium temp like 4-5-6 on a scale of 10, and you still have to preheat your pan.
Good Luck.

How can it bring the oil to its smoke point, and how can it burn the potatoes on, if it's too low?

Well, I do have another idea. My wife bought some organic, unrefined peanut oil. I would bet the smoke point is lower than the usual refined peanut oil.

Still don't see how that could cause burning and sticking, though. It would cook without browning properly if the temp were too low but everything else correct.

I should mention also I am not getting hot spots. The burning on is the whole bottom of the pan. Just a really nasty mess that ruins the whole thing.

(Twice in a row last night...)
 

Chief Longwind Of The North

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The idea of using a higher heat is to add additional heat to the pan to counteract the pan losing heat as the food absorbs the energy. The idea is to maintain a constant temperature.

The even coking temp, and non-stick properties are why cast iron is so well liked. Though CI is a poor conductor of heat, as far as metals go, after it has heated long enough to evenly distribute the heat through the pan, it has a lot of thermal mass, or stored heat energy. When food is put into the pan, it doesn't cool the pan vey much, and provides a more consistent cooking temperature.

SS pans readily develop hot spots as well. That is why encapsulated aluminum, or copper bottoms are put onto the pan, or multi cladding places layers of aluminum, or copper between layers of the SS, to get rid of the hot sots. Even then, the pan just doesn't have the thermal mass of cast iron.

Seeeeya; Chief Longwind of the North
 

CharlieD

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HI.
No expert here. I use stainless for about 90% of my cooking. Your temperature is too low - 2 of 10. Even on a properly preheated pan once food is added temp would drop. I would suggest you cook at medium temp like 4-5-6 on a scale of 10, and you still have to preheat your pan.
Good Luck.

+1. SS is finicky. Cannot go too low, cannot go too high.
 

dragnlaw

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I forgot ... what Andy has suggested is good. Do not preheat your pan for so long, it is not necessary. Plus the adding of your oil while preheating is also not necessary but really it is not for that long so should not make a difference.

Preheat Med-High to High. Hold your open hand over the pan, close down, when you feel it hot add your oil. You can use a wooden chop stick to stand on the oil and see if you get bubbles around it, tilt the pan if necessary for depth. Again, it will not take very long.
With the bubbles you can now add your potatoes.

For how long? - only you can tell as you learn to use your new stove and pan. Start lifting a corner at, say maybe 5 minutes, and continute checking from there until you get the colour/browning you want.
 

PaulFWI

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I bought another bag of taters and some "reg-ler" (higher smoke point) peanut oil. Am going for it again tomorrow to go with a 3 lb tenderloin on the grill & 7 Layer Salad.

Pray for me.
 

dragnlaw

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Although I usually use y CI for frying like that, a tip I got from ATK is to use the spray oil.

It contains an ingredient that helps to prevent sticking. Works for me!
 

taxlady

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Although I usually use y CI for frying like that, a tip I got from ATK is to use the spray oil.

It contains an ingredient that helps to prevent sticking. Works for me!

I believe the ingredient you are referring to is lecithin. Unfortunately for me, it's almost always soy lecithin, which is one of the forms of soy I am supposed to avoid.
 

PaulFWI

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As an update I've been making flawless hashbrowns in the cast iron skillet on the gas stove. The correct burner settings is just under 2/10.

Will try the stainless pan again soon.
 

dragnlaw

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LOL, CI's were made for wood stoves and gas! (Well, probably the other way around, but who's counting)

Good news! Tasty hashbrowns!
 
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