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Question about why we heat the pan 'before' adding oil.

post #1 of 20
Thread Starter 
Hello Everyone,

I have heard and read that one should always heat the pan first before adding cooking oil. I don't know why one should do this as compared to adding room temp oil to a room temp pan, and then turning on the heat until the oil is hot enough to cook in.

Does anyone know why we heat the pan first?

Please let me know, Thanks!

Carmine
[I][U][B][COLOR=DarkRed][SIZE=2][FONT=Georgia] Chef Carmine J. Russo, CCC, CCE
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[I][U][B][COLOR=DarkRed][SIZE=2][FONT=Georgia] Chef Carmine J. Russo, CCC, CCE
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post #2 of 20
Because it's the way we've been taught :smiles: Actually for a home cook I don't know that there's any particular reason that you need to preheat the pan. In a professional setting it helps because it prepares the oil and the pan quicker saving time. The pan heats up quicker because it is empty so there's no resistance acting on it. The oil itself will heat up quick enough when added to a hot pan. Does it save a "lot" of time, no, but every little bit helps. This is assuming of course you are referring to saute type applications as opposed to deep frying!
Just out of curiousity with a CCC and a CCE why are "you" asking this particular question?
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My latest musical venture!
http://myspace.com/nikandtheniceguys
 
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post #3 of 20
"hot pan cold oil, no stick" is what I learned. But this isn't always true because sometimes it depends on the pan. But yes, what chrose said is very very true. Otherwise customers would be waiting much much longer for their food.
post #4 of 20
I heard that there's no real evidence to support the hot pan cold oil no stick policy versus cold pan cold oil heat up no stick, they both work just as well... but it is true that overheated oil for long periods of time does break down the oil so you only want it hot if you're actually doing something with it very soon.

The real key to no stick while cooking meat is to not jostle the meat around until the outside has cooked thoroughly.
"If it's chicken, chicken a la king. If it's fish, fish a la king. If it's turkey, fish a la king." -Bender
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"If it's chicken, chicken a la king. If it's fish, fish a la king. If it's turkey, fish a la king." -Bender
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post #5 of 20
In a class, I was told that the "pores" of the pan expanded as the pan heated and then, when you add the oil, it would get into the pores and create a more even coating to prevent sticking. Sounded good at the time :look:
Emily

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Emily

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"If you are not killing plants, you are not really stretching yourself as a gardener." -- J. C. Raulston, American Horticulturist
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post #6 of 20
True...... The metal(depending on what kind) has a grain that is full of pores will expand to allow the oil to settle in those pores. If you add oil to cold pan the surface tension of the oil is so great that it will "pool" and rest on top of those poors, when you add protien, the weight of the protein will push the food product into the grain which is not lubricated and your food will stick. That doesn't apply to nonstick which are prelubricated in all pores.

I just wanted to see how many times I could write lubricate
" Never fry bacon naked!"

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" Never fry bacon naked!"

-Powers
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post #7 of 20
I've heard that explanation before, but is it actually true, or some bizarre pseudo-science that isn't exactly as it seems? I remember Alton Brown talking about this subject but forgot the main points.
"If it's chicken, chicken a la king. If it's fish, fish a la king. If it's turkey, fish a la king." -Bender
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"If it's chicken, chicken a la king. If it's fish, fish a la king. If it's turkey, fish a la king." -Bender
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post #8 of 20
One thing I know for sure from experience is that food will be cooked much more effectively if you start out with a hot pan. Ever try searing meat starting with a cold pan? Good luck, eventually it will caramelize over high heat but then it will be completely overcooked. And you can forget about getting that perfectly crisp skin on a piece of black bass. Also, if you are going to saute vegetables or meat starting with a cold pan, all the water that gets released won't evaporate as quickly and can ruin the whole dish, even if the pan is underloaded. I never start with a cold pan, unless I'm heating up water, melting sugar, or reheating something else. Of course, you don't necessarily want to start out with a smoking hot pan either, it just depends on what you are cooking.

Also, adding cold oil prematurely to a cold pan retards the whole heating process, minimally so, but every split-second makes the difference in a professional environment. At home, it doesn't matter.
post #9 of 20
And a fine job you did :smiles:

From Kitchen myths: Source: http://www.pgacon.com/KitchenMyths.htm
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Also
http://www.myspace.com/popshowband "I'm at the age when food has taken the place of sex in my life. In fact I've just had a mirror put over my kitchen table." Rodney Dangerfield RIP
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My latest musical venture!
http://myspace.com/nikandtheniceguys
 
Also
http://www.myspace.com/popshowband "I'm at the age when food has taken the place of sex in my life. In fact I've just had a mirror put over my kitchen table." Rodney Dangerfield RIP
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post #10 of 20
I don't think any of us are disputing that one should saute or sear on a hot pan, but the whole whether or not oil should/could be put on a hot/cold pan dispute :).
"If it's chicken, chicken a la king. If it's fish, fish a la king. If it's turkey, fish a la king." -Bender
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"If it's chicken, chicken a la king. If it's fish, fish a la king. If it's turkey, fish a la king." -Bender
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post #11 of 20
ha ha ha:lol: :lol:

Your point's well taken, but I guess the answer just isn't that simple. It depends on what you're cooking, how you're cooking it, and what you are cooking it in. It never hurts to start with a heated pan, but you don't always have to start with a hot pan. Its just a concept full of variables.
post #12 of 20
Thread Starter 
Thanks for your thoughts. I've heated pans all my life, but when I wanted to find out if taking longer to heat the oil (because of adding it to a cold pan) might affect it in some way, I tried looking in several books and could not find anyone addressing the 'why' of pre-heating pans, besides the obvious saving of time.

Again, Thanks

Carmine Russo
[I][U][B][COLOR=DarkRed][SIZE=2][FONT=Georgia] Chef Carmine J. Russo, CCC, CCE
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[I][U][B][COLOR=DarkRed][SIZE=2][FONT=Georgia] Chef Carmine J. Russo, CCC, CCE
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post #13 of 20
I've been poking around in McGee, Russ Parsons, and Robert Wolke, but no luck. It does sound like something Alton would have gone on about, but I can't find that either. All that I came across was this quote in the saute section of The Pro Chef 7th ed.: "Preheat the pan and add the cooking fat. Heating the pan before adding the oil is referred to as conditioning the pan."
Emily

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"If you are not killing plants, you are not really stretching yourself as a gardener." -- J. C. Raulston, American Horticulturist
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Emily

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"If you are not killing plants, you are not really stretching yourself as a gardener." -- J. C. Raulston, American Horticulturist
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post #14 of 20
I have worked at a lot of restaurants that use aluminum saute pans. Most of those pans have bottoms that have popped out and are no longer flat which can be a pain. This popping out is caused by heating the pan dry, putting oil in first prevents this from happening.
Wisdom comes with age, but sometimes age comes alone.
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Wisdom comes with age, but sometimes age comes alone.
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post #15 of 20
Oh, stamped aluminumn will do that even if you started off cold, it's just the nature of aluminum, and carbon steel too, for that matter. Cast aluminum not so much, but then there are very few commercial cast aluminum pans. 'Course, I could write a 3 page essay on why I hate aluminum, but then I'd be off-topic...

My 2 cents on the matter? Nothing irritates me more than watching someone put a cold raw piece of meat into a cold pan, put in the heat, then drizzle oil onto it as an afterthough. Terrible things hapen to the meat, tough, stringly and leached of oil juices, then boiled in the resulting juices once the pan gets to the right temp.

So how can you insure that this won't happen? As a Chef or instructor, how do you instruct the newbie cook to look for a telltale signal when it's time to put the meat into the pan?

Make sure the pan is #$%!-ing hot BEFORE adding in the product.

How do you know if it's hot?

When the oil shimmers and starts to haze.

Cold pan, hot pan, fan schman, when the oil's good and hot THEN it's time to cook, and not a second before.
...."This whole reality thing is really not what I expected it would be"......
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...."This whole reality thing is really not what I expected it would be"......
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post #16 of 20
One thing my instructor told me about hot pan and oil is that when your pan is hot, you tend to use less oil (the same amount tends to cover more when it's hotter, than when trying to coat a cold pan).

Granted she went on the same "it'll stick" shpiel... but doesn't everybody get that one?
post #17 of 20
Maybe if you get the pan hot enough the oil will polymerize on contact and create a sorta non-stick surface.

Hmmm...
post #18 of 20
Brilliant!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!:chef: :D :lol: Ahh Kuan....always thinking! You little scientist you :beer:
My latest musical venture!
http://myspace.com/nikandtheniceguys
 
Also
http://www.myspace.com/popshowband "I'm at the age when food has taken the place of sex in my life. In fact I've just had a mirror put over my kitchen table." Rodney Dangerfield RIP
Reply
My latest musical venture!
http://myspace.com/nikandtheniceguys
 
Also
http://www.myspace.com/popshowband "I'm at the age when food has taken the place of sex in my life. In fact I've just had a mirror put over my kitchen table." Rodney Dangerfield RIP
Reply
post #19 of 20
I don't know any of the science for it, but the reason I preheat is to save a little time. You can set the pan on the range and get it going, go and grab your stuff, then by the time you get back to add your oil it'll heat up much quicker than starting from both being cold. If you let it heat up with the oil in it and it starts smoking before you get back, you've just wasted oil.
post #20 of 20
When I worked as saucer at a super busy restaurant, during the really crazy times, I would continually place pans in the bottom of the oven so that they were already smoking hot and it would take two seconds to get the oil sizzling hot. I miss those days. Always out thinking time, being a step ahead of the customers, being a step ahead of the chef.
Anyways. Something I have been taught is that olive oil is not heated in a cold pan because you do not want it to reach smoking point. It will tastes bitter due to all the plant partlicles in the oil (cold pressed, xtra virgin). So my chef would have me heat up the pan, when the pan was smoking, I would then add the oil and proceed to cook when i could smell the olive oil. Which was pretty much right away. I would also season all my pans with that chef because he used oil as a flavor and not just a cooking method, thus, sometimes you were limited on how much oil you could cook with.
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