How to Use Heat When You Cook On Stainless Steel Pans
The importance of heat in cooking is obvious, but understanding and controlling heat can be more nuanced, and is crucial to getting the most out of your pots and pans. Using the right temperature ensures evenly cooked, better-tasting food and improves the longevity and durability of your cookware. So, this fundamental lesson is all about heat control when searing and how it relates to your Made In products.
We firmly believe that for that perfect caramel-colored sear on proteins and vegetables—the kind that makes an irresistible sizzle when it hits the pan—bare metal is the way to go. But, we also know that foods can stick to bare metal (hence the existence of non stick pans). Luckily, using the right amount of heat and oil can prevent such sticky situations:
1. Heat the pan first, then pour in your oil. Wait a minute or two—until you see a nice shimmer as the oil spreads across the pan (but no smoke)—then add your protein.
Uncooked foods can create a bond with stainless steel that can cause sticking. To combat this, the key is to heat your pans first, then add fat so that the raw ingredient begins cooking as soon as it hits the pan. The reason you heat the pan before adding oil or fat is that over-cooked and broken down oil can get gummy, leading to sticking of food. To further combat sticking when cooking proteins, let the protein come to room temperature first so that they can begin searing immediately once they hit the pan's surface. A cold piece of fish or steak dropped into a hot pan could lead to sticking.
Is this your first time cooking with your new pan? Check out the water droplet test, which will give you immediate feedback on your pan's temperature.
2. Come in hot, then cool things down
Unlike cheaper pots & pans, Made In cookware's stainless steel cookware is made of premium metals and is thus great at retaining heat (which is part of the reason why it was named Daring Kitchen's best stainless steel cookware of 2020). As a result, overheating the pan with continuous high flame can result in oils and foods getting burnt and stuck to the pan. Get your pan to the right temperature with medium heat for a minute or two (see #1) then turn it down a bit— don’t worry, the pan will retain the heat, but won’t burn your ingredients.
3. Foods will naturally release from the pan when a good sear (or crust) is formed.
When you drop a nice piece of protein in your hot pan, give it some time for the initial sear to happen—this is when the best browning and crust occurs. Once the protein forms a sear, it will naturally release a bit from the pan, indicating a good time to flip. You’ll notice the searing process is actually the same between an egg, a piece of salmon, and a filet of steak (although at very different cook times and temperatures).
4. It takes practice.
Proper heat management is what will allow you to take your kitchen skills to the next level and extend the lifetime (and beauty) of your cookware. Getting comfortable with heat control leaves less opportunity for undercooking or overcooking, so it’s important to become familiar not only with your ingredients, but also how your pots and pans react to heat.
Although Tom Colicchio used a Carbon Steel Pan is this tutorial, he shares some additional techniques in this post! Check it out.