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Stepping Stones

STEPPING STONES GARDEN CLUB

STEPPING STONES GARDEN CLUB

STEPPING STONES GARDEN CLUB members met at Our Farm Store in Edwards for a meeting on “Cooking With Cast Iron”.



Posted: Friday, May 26, 2017 12:59 pm

Stepping Stones

On May 10, 16 members of the Stepping Stones Garden Club met for their monthly meeting at “Our Farm Store” on 7 Hwy. near Edwards, MO. The topic of the meeting was, “Cooking With Cast Iron” and was presented by homesteading experts, Wendy Light, owner of the store, and Peggy Cooper. Wendy, is a Retired R.N., Health and homesteading enthusiast, and Peggy is a Retired Art Teacher, Microbiologist and Cast Iron aficionado. Some facts about Cast Iron Cooking: The earliest used was in China over 2000 yrs. ago. Europeans later brought cast iron to America. Why use?: It’s healthy because Iron helps support the immune system. It maintains an even heat across the pan. It is non-stick without toxic chemicals. Whereas, Teflon and other coated pans with(PTFE) release awful cancer causing elements into our food while using.

The members learned about camp (outdoor) Dutch oven cooking, however, many of the same principles are used for kitchen Dutch oven cooking. There was so much more than we can print here. If you are interested, Google History/origin of cast iron cookware and educate yourself with reading-on-line or in books about cooking with cast iron. Peggy and Wendy demonstrated cooking their lunch using the Dutch ovens. They enjoyed a delicious meal that included Calico Chicken, Chia Rye bread, a delicious Cranberry walnut green salad and apple crisp with caramel sauce and homemade ice cream (they make there). The club hostesses for the day were, Garlena Hankins and Ranetta Daugherty. After lunch they had a brief business meeting discussing coming club events and past events, like the FGCM Convention that eight members attended in Hannibal the first four days of May. The club had contributed 30 Art Walk items total in categories of Painting, Photography, Yard Art, Sewing Handwork, and Pressed Flowers. We received two first places–by Jean Tullos, one second place–Sara Blacklock, three third places–Bee Smith, Nancy Konkus and Jacque Scott. We’re mostly proud of our club members in their generous participation and their time. Just had our yearly Plant Sale, May 20th and had ten participants and lots of customers. Thanks to all!

COMING EVENTS: MODOT Road Clean up, May 31st. Need lots of participation from club. Meeting at 9 AM at Newman’s (now G W. Grocery Store) at N. end of parking area. June 5, 9 AM, Bring items for Window in the Library with State Theme, “Make Missouri Bloom” and bringing Art Walk items from Convention.

June 7, Papercrete workshop at Patty Orsborn’s home. Those interested in participation make sure you prepare beforehand. Refer back to e-mail of Minutes dated May 11.

Great meeting and luncheon! Make sure you check out “Our Farm Store” and online ourfarmstore@gmail.com to check out days open and products.

If interested in the club, google fgcmwestcentral/clubs/steppingstones. We invite you to our meetings.

© 2017 Benton County Enterprise. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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Friday, May 26, 2017 12:59 pm.

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Lloyd Industries’ plan beyond pans

Lloyd Industries Inc., the prominent Spokane Valley pizza pan and bakeware maker, is expanding the nonculinary manufacturing side of its operations with the launch of a newly named affiliate, Lloyd Metal Fabrication, says Traci Rennaker, the company’s president and CEO.

The company unveiled a new website at lloydmetalfab.com in March to differentiate its custom metal fabrication capabilities from its more well-known Lloyd Pans affiliate.

“We’ve got all the machines,” Rennaker says. “Why not open it up to the industrial side?”

Lloyd Metal Fabrication is certified to International Organization for Standardization specifications, a qualification that took most of a year to achieve, she says.

As such, Lloyd Metal Fabrication is qualified to manufacture products for use in medical, solar, telecommunications, and aerospace applications, among other industries, Rennaker says.

Some nonculinary products produced so far include designer metal purses, electronic-device enclosures, industrial drain pans, and shelving brackets.

Lloyd Industries, which is located in the Spokane Business Industrial Park, at 3808 N. Sullivan Road, recently doubled its space there to a total of 80,000 square feet to accommodate Lloyd Pans and the new subsidiary.

“It’s like starting a new company,” Rennaker says.

Lloyd Metal Fabrication’s capabilities include welding, machining, shearing, laser cutting, pressing, and punching.

The new subsidiary also offers engineering and design services using computer-assisted design and manufacturing technologies.

The company has a full line of equipment for anodizing aluminum products, Rennaker says. Anodizing is an electrochemical process that converts the surface of certain metals to a durable, corrosion-resistant finish.

Lloyd Industries has its own engineering department, which serves its subsidiaries.

“We can help engineer custom products, or customers can send us items they want us to manufacture,” Rennaker says.

An in-house marketing department promotes the subsidiaries.

“Everything is done in this one building,” Rennaker says.

Lloyd Industries currently has 36 full-time employees and up to 10 temporary employees. Shop employees are cross trained on different metal fabrication machines so they’re not tied to certain tasks, Rennaker says.

She says the company has a low employee-turnover rate.

“We have great employees who care about what they’re doing,” she says. “It makes me work harder knowing employees care so much.”

The plant operates seven days a week with up to three shifts a day.

Rennaker has led Lloyd Industries for nearly six years, having come from another sheet-metal fabricator.

“The owner (John Crow) asked me to help run the company because he was retiring,” she says, adding that she felt the timing was right for her to move on from her previous employer.

“I felt I needed to run a company on my own,” Rennaker says.

During her tenure, Lloyd Industries has more than doubled its annual sales, mostly through growth in pizza-related culinary products, which make up 75 percent of the company’s sales.

“The culinary side was always what we’re great at,” Rennaker says.

Lloyd Pans’ extensive customer base includes the top 10 pizza chains, she says.

“We have customers all over the world now,” she says. “It’s fun to work with people from different countries coming over and buying made-in-the-U.S.A. products. We even have a distributor in China who buys products to sell over there.”

Lloyd Pans makes standard and custom pizza pans, and accessories, bakeware, racks, stands, and cabinets.

In all, the company manufactures more than 4,000 products, she says.

For the consumer market, another Lloyd Industries subsidiary, Lloyd Pans Kitchenware, makes products sold in stores, on Amazon.com, and through the lloydpanskitchenware.com website.

Consumer products include stovetop cookware, ovenware, bakeware, and pizza pans.

As with commercial products, many of the consumer products are made of hard-anodized aluminum with a proprietary coating that’s a durable, metal utensil-safe alternative to conventional nonstick pans.

Lloyd Pans’ manufacturing capabilities are directly transferable to Lloyd Metal Fabrication, she says.

The company’s goal is to keep lead times under 15 business days, Rennaker says.

“We’re known for our speed from quote to manufacturing,” she says. “We’ve been known to be able to quote a part and get a prototype out in a day.”

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Stick with it: stainless steel pans take practice | Chef Dez

In our arsenals of cookware, I believe that most people have at least one or more “non-stick” pans that they rely on for certain tasks. They are out there – from non-stick coatings, to ceramic and titanium pans, and even well-seasoned cast-iron pans.

But what about the good-old, tried-and-true, stainless steel pan? Many complain that food sticks to it too much, and thus it tends to be cast aside.

A stainless steel pan must be of good quality. As with most cookware, you get what you pay for.

You need a pan of high-grade stainless steel and a base that provides even heating and good heat retention. Talk to the professionals at your local kitchen supply store as they are a wealth of information and will be able to steer you in the right direction.

The first step is to make sure that your pan is evenly heated before you put anything in the pan. The most common mistake is that food is added at the same time, or shortly thereafter, the pan meets the stove. The pan needs to be hot first, even before you add any oil.

Once the pan is hot, add a small amount of high-heat oil – like grape seed, coconut, rice bran, etc. – and then the food. The food may still stick at first, but only for a short time. Once the ingredients have been seared briefly, they should start to move around the pan freely with little effort.

Let’s examine this procedure further in the example of cooking a steak, or a piece of meat or seafood. A stainless steel pan is the best choice in this example because it allows some of the browning of the meat to stay in the pan to help flavor the perfect accompanying pan sauce.

The preliminary steps, as mentioned above, are the same: you must make sure the empty pan is hot first, before you add anything. How hot will depend on many factors, like the thickness of the meat and the doneness you are trying to achieve.

I find the best way to test temperature in an empty pan is to sprinkle a bit of water. If the water sits in the pan and does nothing, it is not hot. If the water bubbles, spurts, and evaporates fairly quickly, it is getting hotter. When the water beads and rolls around the pan like little marbles before evaporating, then it is hot.

A word of warning: this water test is to be done in a dry pan only, with no oil. Do not attempt to add any oil, or fatty ingredients, while the water still exists in the pan, otherwise it could spurt and burn you or cause a grease fire in your pan.

Once you know the pan is hot, and the water has evaporated, add a small amount of high-heat oil, and then the meat immediately after. If you think the pan is too hot, add the meat and then turn down the heat and/or temporarily remove the pan from the heat.

The most important thing now is to not disturb the meat. It will be stuck at first, but trying to pry the meat from the pan at this point will just inhibit the crust from being formed. Once the meat has seared, and browned thoroughly, it will release itself easily from the pan when you attempt to flip it over. Cooking the other side without disruption at first is also crucial.

The one thing you will notice in the pan, unlike non-stick pans, is that there are browned bits from the meat left on the surface of the pan. This is called fond, and you want this to help flavor your pan sauce.

Once the meat has been cooked to your desired doneness, remove it and set it aside to rest. Reduce the heat in the pan and some liquid to deglaze the pan. Deglazing is the process of lifting those browned bits off the pan and into the liquid with the help of some subtle scraping action with a utensil.

Add your remaining sauce ingredients and cook until desired consistency has been reached. Serve with the awaiting meat, and enjoy.

There are countless pan sauce recipes and variations online for you to try. My best piece of advice to you, however, is practice. With repeated attempts, you will get to understand how to recognize the heat exchange and how it affects the pan and ultimately the food.

If you want to become good at anything, do it more. Cooking is no different.

 

Gordon Desormeaux aka Chef Dez is a chef, writer and host serving the Pacific Northwest. Visit him at www.chefdez.com. Write to him at dez@chefdez.com or P.O. Box 2674, Abbotsford, BC V2T 6R4.

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KNEADING Direction

FOLIO LIVING

The hospitality industry offers an endless variety of career opportunities to creative individuals. I, for one, am a great example of this phenomenon. (You just knew this was going to be all about me, right?)

My very first job was as a pot-washer and counter-server at a small pizza restaurant in a Northern Virginia shopping mall. When I took the job, I had absolutely no interest in restaurants, cooking or hospitality. I just needed to finance a car and I liked food.

The food we served there was delicious. Even after nearly 40 years, I can still taste two of my favorite dishes. The first? Deep-dish Sicilian-style pizza. I’ve had this kind of pizza a million times since, but none compare. What made the pizza stupendously delicious was the crust, but not the entire crust, just the bottom and side edges. They were sweet, savory, flavor prizes; the corners were the best.

My part of the process was to heft bags of flour and lift the 60-quart mixing bowl for the maestro of pizza dough, an old Sicilian man at least 70, maybe 100, who spoke zero English. Needless to say, we didn’t talk much. One thing I learned from him was how important pans were in creating the perfect dough. We used ancient black steel pans. I’ve never seen anything quite like them since. Used over and over, like cast-iron, they were never washed with water. The old man was very protective of them; we would simply bring the used pans back to him and he would gently wipe out residual crumbs, and liberally coat the cookware with olive oil. I thought of him as a sorcerer; I was his apprentice.

The other item carved in my taste conscience is a sausage roll. These brilliant bites were made with an incredible Italian sausage imported from New Jersey. The ropes of sausage were slow-roasted with onions, tomatoes, bell peppers and seasonings, then sliced and rolled with tender, sweet caramelized vegetables in very thin, almost transparent, pizza dough. It then traveled to the 800°F pizza oven and returned as a vision of sumptuous joy.

Unbeknownst to me at the time, this part-time job would lead to a career, from pot-washer to chef, to teacher, to culinary tour guide, to baker. I think I chose a pretty cool field.

It’s not Sicilian-style, but give this simple pizza dough a try and top it with whatever strikes your fancy.
____________________

Chef Bill’s Grilled Pizza Dough
Ingredients

 

  • 1 Tbs. local honey
  • 1-1/2 Cups warm water (100°F)
  • 1 Package active dry yeast
  • 3-1/2 Cups all-purpose flour, plus extra for rolling out
  • 1 Oz. olive oil, plus extra for rubbing
  • 1-1/2 Tbs. sea salt

Directions

  1. Dissolve the honey in the hot water, whisk in the yeast and let stand for about 10 minutes.
  2. Place the flour and salt in a food processer, pulse a couple of times to mix. Add the olive oil and pulse.
  3. Add half of the yeast mixture and pulse a couple times. Add the remaining yeast mixture and continue to pulse until a dough ball forms. Pulse three or four more times, then turn out onto a floured surface.
  4. Knead for five minutes; dough should be elastic.
  5. Place dough ball in a lightly oiled bowl and proof for 45 minutes to an hour.
  6. Punch down dough, shape into a cylinder and cut into six pieces.
  7. Preheat the grill.
  8. Roll out one piece into a rough oval.
  9. Brush with oil, and grill.

Until we cook again,
____________________

Contact Chef Bill Thompson, owner of The Amelia Island Culinary Academy, at cheffedup@folioweekly.com to find inspiration and get you Cheffed Up!

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How to make the most of grilling season

There’s nothing better than the flavor and presentation of food cooked on a grill.

The slightly smoky flavor and ease of preparation makes grilling one of the top cooking methods any time of the year. Even when there is a chill in the air, stepping outside to grill a meal is quick and easy.

Now that summer is around the corner, many of us are dining al fresco, and that often includes a grilled dish. Almost any food can be grilled, from steak to portobello mushrooms, and occasionally a food that you wouldn’t imagine, such as thickly cut Greek cheese (Halloumi), which grills perfectly.

For those who don’t have access to an outdoor grill, I’ve had success with cast-iron indoor grilling pans. Indoor grilling pans, which can be found in any cookware store, add a depth of flavor similar to outdoor gas grilling. I own two square ones that fit over a burner and can accommodate two servings of protein or four pieces of fresh corn or sliced eggplant.

Here are some of my tips to make the most of your grilling.

What to grill?

Most important, you need to know which foods are best grilled. Any cut of meat or chicken is ideal for grilling.

For dark-meat chicken, I recommend cooking it first in the oven to get it about three quarters done and then finishing it on the grill to avoid overly dark or blackened skin. Chicken breasts cook quickly – about 3 minutes per side. I recommend you pound the chicken to an even thickness to assure perfect doneness.

Fish is best if you choose steak fish (such as tuna, salmon, swordfish or shark) or whole fish (such as snapper or bass). Shellfish, including shrimp, scallops, clams and lobster, are wonderful on the grill and can be served room temperature or as part of a salad. I tend to avoid thin fish fillets for grilling as they are too delicate for the high heat and difficult to move off the grill.

All kinds of grilled vegetables are wonderful. My personal favorites are asparagus, mushrooms, onions, peppers, zucchini, eggplant, cauliflower, unripe tomatoes and corn. Consider buying a grill basket for smaller veggies to avoid them falling into the grill. For the vegetarians among us, both tofu and tempeh are delicious in their grilled form, especially paired with a flavorful marinade.

Get the grill ready

To prepare the grill, heat is of utmost importance for a guaranteed non-stick surface. If your food is not ready to turn easily, simply leave it another minute to insure the proper sear. If you are grilling something with little to no marinade, be sure to spray the grill lightly with vegetable cooking spray or brush lightly with olive oil.

The marinade

My favorite element in grilling is the marinade. A marinade can be as simple as vinaigrette with a few fresh herbs mixed in, and sauces such as salsas, pestos and reserved boiled marinades add a ton of flavor to just about any grilled food.

Because there’s no sauce or fat in the pan, and most grilled foods cook fairly quickly, a marinade not only tenderizes but adds flavor. I usually marinate dishes for at least two hours at room temperature or overnight in the refrigerator, depending on what you’re preparing.

I recommend reserving the leftover marinade and bringing it to a boil in a small saucepan for four or five minutes, to kill any bacteria, along with a little red wine, if desired, and you have an amazing sauce to drizzle over your grilled dish.

There’s the rub

Fish is one exception where the marinade can actually cook the fish, so don’t marinate fish and shellfish for more than an hour. This is where a spice rub can be the perfect flavor enhancer. I often use spice rubs for tuna, salmon or shrimp.

Simply toast a few of your favorite spices, such as cumin, mustard seeds, peppercorns and coriander. Grind them in a coffee or spice grinder, coat the fish lightly with olive oil, then sprinkle the spices and a pinch of sea salt. You’ve now elevated your fish to another level.

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Grilled bread

I love the taste of grilled bread and often serve it lightly brushed with extra virgin olive oil and rubbed with a cut clove of garlic, as you might enjoy in Tuscany. Grill the bread for three or four minutes on each side and serve with chopped tomatoes, olives, mushrooms. Or, serve it plain, with a few shavings of Parmesan Reggiano. I often make hummus or a spread, such as a white bean puree, to serve guests while they are having a chilled glass of wine.

Amanda Cushman is a culinary instructor, food writer and cookbook author. She can be reached at chapelhillcookingclasses.com.

Grilled Shrimp with Heirloom Tomato Salad

Shrimp is marinated for an hour and then grilled and served on top of a bed of mixed greens. Scallops can be used in place of the shrimp if desired. Recipe by Amanda Cushman.

1 1/2 pounds large shrimp, peeled and de-veined

5 tablespoons lime juice

1/4 cup virgin olive oil

2 teaspoons ground cumin

1 small jalapeno, seeded and minced

6 tablespoons cilantro, chopped

1/4 teaspoon salt


Salad

3 large Heirloom tomatoes of mixed colors, large dice

1 shallot, minced

1/4 cup basil, chopped

3 tablespoons balsamic vinegar

1/3 cup virgin olive oil

Salt and fresh ground pepper, to taste

4 cups mixed salad greens

1 half of a small ripe papaya, peeled, diced, garnish

Combine the shrimp with the lime, olive oil, cumin, jalapeno, cilantro and salt in a medium bowl. Toss and allow to sit at room temperature for one hour.

Combine the tomatoes, shallot, basil, balsamic, olive oil, salt and pepper in a large bowl. Toss well and set aside.

Turn the grill to high and allow to preheat for 5 minutes. Remove the shrimp from the marinade and place on the grill, discarding the marinade. Lower the heat to medium and cook the shrimp until pink and slightly curled, about 3 to 4 minutes on each side. Transfer to a plate.

Add the mixed greens to the tomatoes. Taste for seasoning.

Divide the greens between four serving plates, top with the shrimp, and garnish each serving with the diced papaya.

Yield: 4 servings.

Grilled Skirt Steak with Balsamic, Dijon and Soy Marinade

This marinade can be used with lamb chops, pork tenderloin, chicken or salmon. It is best to marinate overnight for steak. Recipe by Amanda Cushman.

1 1/2 pounds skirt, flank or hanger steak, scored


Marinade

3 shallots, minced

1/4 cup balsamic vinegar

1/4 cup soy sauce

4 cloves garlic, minced

1/4 cup olive oil

1 tablespoon Dijon mustard

1 tablespoon fresh rosemary, chopped

Fresh ground black pepper


Sauce

1/2 cup dry red wine

2 scallions, julienne, garnish

Place the steak in a shallow baking dish.

Combine marinade ingredients in a medium bowl. Pour over steak and marinate about 2 hours or overnight, refrigerated.

Half an hour before grilling, remove the steak from the refrigerator. Heat the grill on high for about 5 minutes. Grill the steak for about 7 to 8 minutes on each side for medium-rare meat. Reserve the leftover marinade. Place cooked meat on a cutting board and set aside loosely covered with foil.

Bring the leftover marinade to a boil in a small saucepan with the red wine. Boil for 4 to 5 minutes. Set aside. Meanwhile, slice the meat thinly against the grain. Place on a serving platter and pour the marinade over the meat. Garnish with the julienne scallions and serve.

Yield: 6 servings.

Grilled Bread with Rosemary-Scented White Bean Puree

This is a perfect dish to make ahead, as it can be served room temperature. Feel free to substitute chick peas for the white beans and add other herbs such as thyme or Italian parsley. Recipe by Amanda Cushman.

1/4 cup virgin olive oil

2 medium shallots, minced

2 garlic cloves, minced

3 16 ounce cans Cannellini beans, rinsed, drained

Salt and pepper to taste

1 tablespoon fresh rosemary, chopped


Topping

2 large ripe tomatoes, seeded, chopped

2 tablespoons virgin olive oil

1 garlic clove, minced

1 loaf crusty Tuscan bread, sliced in 1/2-inch slices

Virgin olive oil for brushing

Heat 1/4 cup olive oil in a large skillet over medium high heat and sauté the shallots and garlic for 1 minute. Add the beans and salt, pepper and rosemary, cover the pan and reduce the heat to low and cook for about 7 minutes.

Using a fork, mash up the beans in the skillet to form a rough paste. Add water as needed when the beans become too thick. Set aside.

Combine the tomato with the olive oil and minced garlic in a small bowl. Season with salt and pepper to taste and set aside.

Heat the grill over high heat. Brush the bread with a little olive oil and grill on both sides until toasted and charred slightly, about 4 minutes per side. Remove the bread to a serving platter. Spoon the puree on top of the bread and garnish with the tomato.

Yield: Serves 8 to 10 as an appetizer

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Skillet maker starts sizzling in the crowdfunding cauldron

Flagship Grill

The company raised more than $22,000 on Kickstarter for the Flagship Grill Pan. (Avant-Garde Management)

The old stand-by cast iron skillet it getting a makeover.

Engineers from Avant-Garde Management Inc. held so many pot luck dinners, employees started dreaming up a new type of skillet. And now the company has sold 200 Flagship Grills on Kickstarter, raising more than $22,000 for a cast iron skillet that uses grooves to drain fat and grease away from food. The pans work on any type of kitchen stove and on open flames and grills.

Natalie Melomed, an analyst with the company who worked on the pan, said her firm’s expertise lies more in the scientific method.

“You give an idea to an engineer and then they go with it.”

Melomed said that her group wanted to use a platform like Kickstarter before trying other crowdfunding sources or selling the Flagship Grill in stores.

Avant-Garde typically works as a research and engineering company. But after several work potlucks, a group of employees started talking about cast iron cookware. Max Melomed came up with the initial idea for the Flagship Grill. He and the other staffers wanted to build something that kept food juicy and flavorful, but without all the fat.

And there are other tinkerers trying to upgrade the lowly iron skillet. New companies like Portland-based Finex sizzled onto the scene in the past few years. Finex offers a line of octagon-shaped pans with a different style of handle. New brands are aiming to compete with longstanding brands such as Lodge, which has produced cast iron cookware since 1896.

Depending on other projects within the company, three to four people were working on the pan at any time. The Flagship Grill went through several rounds of testing, starting with 3-D-printed versions of the pan in January 2016. Avant-Garde wanted to perfect the shape in plastic before forging the cast iron molds.

“At that point in time we fixed the drawings and started working on our initial mold,” Natalie Melomed said.

Staff also experimented with different groove designs inside the pan, as well some of the seasoning options that come with traditional cast iron cookware. A backer from the Kickstarter campaign suggested an insert that could come out of the pan and into other pans, a grill or an open flame.

Once a workable model was created, Avant-Garde employees and their friends began testing the pan in the kitchen.

“We’ve had so much cast iron cooking, we couldn’t believe it,” Melomed said.

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On Cooking: Sticking to a stainless steel pan

In our arsenals of cookware, I believe that most people have at least one or more ‘non-stick’ pans that they rely on for certain tasks.

From non-stick coatings, to ceramic and titanium pans, and even well-seasoned cast iron pans, they are out there.

But what about the good old, tried and true, stainless steel pan? Many complain that food sticks to it too much and thus tends to be cast aside.

You need a pan of high-grade stainless steel and a base that provides even heating and good heat retention.

The first step is to make sure that your pan is evenly heated before you put anything in the pan. The most common mistake is that food is added at the same time the pan meets the stove.

The pan needs to be hot first, even before you add any oil. Once the pan is hot, add a small amount of high-heat oil (like grape seed, coconut, rice bran), then the food. The food may still stick at first, but only for a short time.

Once the ingredients have been seared briefly, they should start to move around the pan freely with little effort.

A stainless steel pan is the best choice because it allows some of the browning of the meat to stay in the pan to help flavour the perfect accompanying pan sauce.

You must make sure the empty pan is hot first before you add anything. How hot will depend on many factors, such as the thickness of the meat and the doneness you are trying to achieve.

I find the best way to test temperature in an empty pan is to sprinkle a bit of water. If the water sits in the pan and does nothing, it is not hot. If the water bubbles, spurts, and evaporates fairly quickly, it is getting hotter. When the water beads and rolls around the pan like little marbles before evaporating, then it is hot.

This water test is to be done in a dry pan only, with no oil. Do not attempt to add any oil, or fatty ingredients while the water still exists in the pan otherwise it could spurt and burn you or cause a grease fire in your pan.

Once you know the pan is hot, and the water from testing it has evaporated, add a small amount of high-heat oil, then the meat immediately after. If you think the pan is too hot, then after the meat has been added, turn down the heat or temporarily remove the pan from the heat.

The most important thing now is to not disturb the meat. It will be stuck at first, but trying to pry the meat from the pan at this point will just inhibit the crust from being formed.

Once the meat has seared, and browned thoroughly, it will release itself easily from the pan when you attempt to flip it over. Cooking the other side without disruption at first is also crucial.

The one thing you will notice in the pan, unlike non-stick pans, is that there are browned bits from the meat left on the surface of the pan. This is called fond, and you want this to help flavour your pan sauce.

With repeated attempts, you will get to understand how to recognize the heat exchange and how it affects the pan and ultimately the food.

– Chef Dez is a chef, writer and host (chefdez.com).

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