Tuesday, January 19, 2010

The stainless steel pan, workhorse of today's kitchen.

I used to view the stainless steel skillet as a worthless tool. I thought that a pan that everything just stuck to must be useless. This was before my days of practicing the searing and deglazing techniques of cooking. Not familiar with these? I'll tell you but first know that a quality stainless steel pan is the best choice for this practice. You get what you pay for. Sear: To brown meat quickly by subjecting it to very high heat either in a skillet, under a broiler or in a very hot oven. The object of searing is to seal in the meat's juices, which is why British cooks often use the word "seal" to mean the same thing. You will use a little bit of oil in the pan and some of the brown from the searing will be left. The deglazing will take care of that. Make sure that you do not overload your pan, this will tend to steam your meat. This is not what you want here. (yuck!) If you have a lot of meat to sear, do it in batches. Now the brown stuck to the bottom of the pan is going to turn into something scrumptious through the deglazing process. deglaze[dee-GLAYZ]After food (usually meat) has been sautéed and the food and excess fat removed from the pan, deglazing is done by heating a small amount of liquid in the pan and stirring to loosen browned bits of food on the bottom. The liquid used is most often wine or stock. The resultant mixture often becomes a base for a sauce to accompany the food cooked in the pan. All the flavor from what you have used to season or marinate your meat is going to be concentrated in that brown stuck on the pan. Once you have deglazed it, you can dilute it further for a stock or make a gravy or simply just a thin sauce. When I make something like fajitas I toss the meat back in the pan and basically coat it with the thin, flavorful sauce after deglazing. Mucho good results. I have tried this process with other type of pans and have not been able to get the same results. For example, I was searing pork chops-some in stainless and some in cast iron. In the cast iron much of the juices from the chop ended up oozing out into the pan. Don't get me wrong, I also love cast iron. I just think that different tools have their best uses in our kitchens. You are able to achieve a high temperature with stainless like no other type of pan. And I think the surface aids also. So, get to searing, it'll sure warm up the kitchen on a cold night.

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