Watch out for exploding grease!

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Senior Cook
Apr 8, 2004
I was pan searing my rib roast last night in a skillet, as I always do, and the greese exploded in my face, causing multiple first and second degree burns. The question is, does anyone have a trick to make this job a little safer, short of wearing a mask? The prime rib came out excellent, very tender, so I don't want to give up pan searing, but next time it happens, it could be my eye that gets hit, so naturally I would be interested in finding a safer way! Any suggestions?
Jason.....When I do a rib roast I never pan sear it......I season it with S+P onion, garlic powders and rosemary. Do this the day before and put in the fridge, an hour before cooking take it out and let it sit at room temp. Toss into the oven at 350 and cook to desired doneness. Mine always comes out nice and browned and full of flavor.
Ouch jason! Hope you are OK! I must admit I never pan sear prime rib either. I oven sear. I don't think there is anything short of a welders mask that could protect you on that score. Good luck.
I often pan-sear roasts. But I only put about a tbs. of oil into the pan. I use a heavy cast-iron pan, and never have to worry about popping grease. The grease, or oil pops when dirpping fluids from the meat come into contact with the hot oil. The juices contain water, which joes doesn't go well with hot oil. You can also use a cover to sheild yourself. But if you use just enough oil to make the pan shiny, you will still brown the meat, without undue risk from violent water/hot oil reactions.

Seeeeeeya; Goodweed of the North
Yeah, you're probably right about the quantity of the oil being the problem. Normally, when I pan sear, I only put enough oil in to coat the bottom of the pan, but this time I did it, I was kind of careless, and may have put too much oil in. Actually, what happened was more to do with the shape of the roast than anything else. Although it was a small roast (only about 3.2 LBS) it was very long, and barely fit in the skillet. As a result, when I tried to turn it over, it got stuck, so I had to push hard with the spatula. At that moment, the large surface area of the meat came into contact with the hot oil all at once, which probably triggered the explosive reaction. I can tell you, from now on, when I do this, there will be a bare minimum of oil, and I will turn the roast while stepping at least a couple of feet away. (extending my arms to the maximum, with my hands gloved, of course). As for not pan searing, I am hesitant to abandon this method. For years I tried making roasts the conventional way, and I was always unsatisfied with the results. It was only when I started doing it by this method that I started producing roasts I could really be proud of. The compliments I have gotten have made it worth the extra trouble, and despite my problems last night, the roast was absolutely tender and perfect in every way. In case you're interested, here is the recipe:

1 Standing Rib Roast, 3-5 LBS
1/2 cup whole grain mustard
6 TBSP extra virgin olive oil
2 TBSP dried savory, finely crumbled
1 TBSP powdered thyme, or 2 TBSP dried thyme
Vegetable oil for sauteing
Coarse Salt
Freshly ground black pepper

1. Preheat oven to 450 degrees F.
2. Pat down the roast until dry, then generously coat with coarse salt.
3. Put enough vegetable oil in a large skillet to coat, then sear each side of the roast over medium high heat until nicely browned, about 4 minutes per side. (do not move the roast as you sear, leave it be)
4. In a small bowl, mix together the mustard, savory, thyme, and olive oil. Brush the roast generously with the mustard mixture. Season with black pepper.
5. Roast fat side up, for approximately 20 minutes. Reduce heat to 350 degrees F, and roast until internal temperature reaches 135-140 degrees F, about 1 to 2 hours, depending on the size of the roast.
6. Let rest for 15 minutes. Slice and serve.
Possible cause of "explosion"

Can you describe how you had handled the roast before pan-searing it? I suspect that it was "wet" with either water, or natural juices (blood) - and that you may have had too deep a layer of oil?

You may have experienced how violently water "pops" in hot oil; since oil can heat well above the boiling point of water, I believe it produces super-heated steam, which can expand explosively. Liquid blood would presumable be subject to the same action.

I'd think that draining the meat, and then blotting all surfaces, would be prudent safe-guards...
Jasonr, can I suggest you try aloe vera plant "drippings" on your burns, to relieve some of the pains?

I think you are onto the best technique with the pre-heated oven stoked up that high, and rubbing your roasts with your spice mixes (and Kosher Salt!)(my favourite!) that the pan searing is probably redundant....

We vary slightly beyond that...I reduce oven temp to 325, or, if I've got the extra time, even 300, and enjoy what I think is a bit more "tenderness" out of the meat, if I keep the heat lower....

Which, of course is why its necessary to "flash-burn" the outside to "oven sear" it...

I like marinating roasts or steaks a bit, in addition to spicing them...try this one, if you like...

1/3 c EVOO
3 tspns Worcestshire
2 tspns minced garlic
3 tspns rice vinegar
2 tspns balsamic vinegar
a dash or two of Tobasco
1-2 tspns onion powder

Mix together to emulsify, flop your steak/roast back and forth in it to thoroughly coat the meat, and leave it soak for an hour or so, while the meat comes to room temperature...

Rub with your spice mix, and set to cook as discussed...I find that this adds to the end might like it too!



a quick postscript....

The vinegars in this mix are acids, of course, and contribute much to tenderising...on the other hand, if you're cooking tenderloins or strip loins, ribeye's, etc., this mix will break them up a bit too much unless you reduce the soaking don't have to worry with roasts, because they're bigger and thicker...but watch it with steaks...and use it longer with crossrib steaks or other "cowboy" takes them up several notches!

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