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Making fond: not to burn the sticky bits?

post #1 of 13
Thread Starter 
I'm new at cooking with stainless steel. Although I'm enjoying it, I have yet to see real benefits over non-stick, aside from having to replace the pan every year (hopefully).

Last time I cooked a rib eye steak, I was trying to make fond. I proceeded:

1) heat the pan on medium-high
2) add enough oil to cover the whole bottom of the pan, heat
3) add steak, let fry exactly 2mn
4) use tongues to turn the steak

At this point I could see some sticky bits (not much) from the first side. I was wondering: do I turn the steak and put it back on top of the sticky bit? Or on the side? I finally put it right about on top, but some of the bits were not covered by the steak and proceeded to burn as I cooked the second side.

5) let fry on 2nd side for exactly 2mn
6) reduce heat to medium and leave the steak another mn
7) turn the steak and leave for another mn

8) transfer steak to the plate and ... huh....??

OK I totally improvised at this point. I poured some red wine, used a spoon to unstick the sticky bits, let reduce and added some butter, reduced, some more butter, some more reduction, and poured on the steak.

The steak was absolutely fabulous, but the sauce was really nothing special at all. And really what bothers me the most is those burnt sticky bits. How do you avoid to burn them?

Maybe the problem is that I'm using a 10" pan for a single steak? But that's the only pan I have right now. Buy an 8"?
post #2 of 13
1. use less oil
2. let it cook slightly longer, to allow the caramelizaton to occur...even 30 seconds will make a significant difference
3. don't use your tongue to turn the meat (sorry...couldnt help myself :))
"The pressure's on...let's cook something!"
 
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post #3 of 13
Just a minor point - and I'm sure to be corrected if wrong - steaks brown because of the "Maillard reaction," not because of caramelization. The results are very similar - may even taste the same - but they are two different processes.
post #4 of 13
Wikipedia: Maillard reaction is a chemical reaction between an amino acid & a reducing sugar, usually requiring heat. Like caramelization, it is a form of non-enzymatic browning.

As a point of difference, one usually sees the term 'maillard reaction' in referrence to the browning of meats, while 'caramelization' is more often applied to the type of browning where sugars are the primary ingredients being darkened under heat, as in the making of a caramel sauce, for instance. However, it is not incorrect to refer to the browning of the meat as caramelization. :)
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post #5 of 13
The times and sequence appear very familiar. I wonder...

The "sticky bits" were fond and some of the cooked seasoning. Do your best to cover them with the steak, just as you did.

If you were following my recipe, you shouldn't have had to improvise. Once you've got a handle on it, you'll be able to improvise behind your back and upside down -- but it's nice to have some confidence and some thechnique built up first.

Lots of little problems here. The three biggest were: 1) The choice of red wine as the deglazing agent and sauce base. 2) The weird sequence of wine/reduction/butter - wine/reduction/butter. But most all, 3) the total lack of seasoning. No wonder it didn't taste like much! Don't kick yourself (or me either, I'm not being sarcastic). You were improvising over a hot pan while the steak was getting cold. When you've done it five or six times it's second nature, until then it's ... well... confusing.

Red wine is very difficult to work with as a pan reduction without a certain amount of technique. It tends to be raw, bland or bitter depending on how it's mishandled. Furthermore, you didn't do enough to structure the sauce to create the sort of texture that would have enrobed your steak in lusciousness. Yes. I said lusciousness. So shoot me.

Lower your heat a little and cook a bit longer. Cover them with the steak better. And, a few burnt bits shouldn't be negative, they should actually be good.

Too big a pan actually was part of the problem, and your kitchen will be enriched (if not enrobed) by the addition of an 8" pan -- so yes, buy an 8". A carbon-steel 8" might be just the thing, in fact.

If you weren't using my steak with pan sauce recipe, you should try it. Not that it's so special (OK, it is), but for the techniques in creating a sauce with taste and structure.

BDL
post #6 of 13
I agree with BDL (hey who can argue with BDL? :) ) Pan too big, should be just big enough to fit the steak. Maybe try a little beef stock after you put a good nice red into deglaze the pan and reduced this, add beef stock then reduce again, then add the butter and season to taste. Just keep the steak warm while you are doing this, or return the steak with any accumulated juices to the pan to warm thru in the sauce, but not for long.

Just my thoughts - works for me.

DC
 Don't handicap your children by making their lives easy.
Robert A. Heinlein

 
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 Don't handicap your children by making their lives easy.
Robert A. Heinlein

 
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post #7 of 13
Nice editing job on the article . A little further down it is clearly stated,

"Caramelization is an entirely different process from Maillard browning, though the results of the two processes are sometimes similar to the naked eye (and tastebuds). Caramelization may sometimes cause browning in the same foods in which the Maillard reaction occurs, but the two processes are distinct."

Just because the Maillard reaction, like caramelization, is a form of non-enzymatic browning, doesn't make them the same process. To be "like" caramelization in one aspect, or even in several aspects, does not make the Maillard reaction the same as caramelization.
post #8 of 13
Thread Starter 
Well wonder no more, I was indeed doing this from memory after reading your recipe somewhere on this forum. Unfortunately I did not remember the techniques for the fond.

Thanks a lot for all the tips, really helpful.

RE: getting a carbon-steel 8" - I don't know anything at all about those pans. Any idea which to get? What are the advantages over a stainless steel?
post #9 of 13
Um, wikipedia? really?
Because it is such a secure source.

http://class.fst.ohio-state.edu/fst6...p/Maillard.pdf

lookie loo.

more info than i care to know, but am compelled to understand!
bake first, ask questions later.
Oooh food, my favorite!


Professor Pastry Artswww.collin.edu
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bake first, ask questions later.
Oooh food, my favorite!


Professor Pastry Artswww.collin.edu
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post #10 of 13
Yes, really. There have been several books written on the subject of the Maillard reaction, and they say the same things. The Maillard reaction has received a lot of research.

I used to be skeptical of Wiki, but over time have found it to be a good source, and better than many. There is so much misinformation on the web - with Wiki, if something is wrong, someone is always ready to jump in and make a correction.


G'nite.
post #11 of 13
Well, just look at Harold McGee On Food and Cooking, p.657.

"When sugars are cooked with ingredients that incllude proteins or amino acids - milk or cream, for example - then in addition to true caramelization, some of the sugars patricipate with the proteins and amino acids in the Maillard browning reaction, which produce a larger range of compounds and a richer aroma."

If you don't have McGee, you should. The index alone is 48 pages long - small type - which should give you some idea of its range. Buy it through this site.

Harold is my go-to guy (right after, of course, BDL :p ) for any culinary question.

Mike :chef:
travelling gourmand
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travelling gourmand
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post #12 of 13
So? Does McGee say that caramelization and the Maillard reaction are the same thing? Certainly not in the passage you quoted. And there is no mention of meat, which, iirc, is what this thread is about
post #13 of 13
It wasn't editing, per se. I hadn't read down that far. Thanks for the correction. I have been cooking for decades (self-taught), but had neither heard of, nor read about the "maillard reaction" until a couple of months ago. It's never been in my vocabulary, and neither was "fond". I have no idea how I ever browned a piece of meat without this specific information. I'm simply not into terminology, so much as the process itself. No one complains, so I must be doing something right. :)
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