Psst... We're working on the next generation of Chowhound! View >
HOME > Chowhound > Home Cooking >
Mar 15, 2010 12:48 PM

Unintentional flambe incidents-- how does one avoid or safely handle flames INSIDE the saucepan?

This has happened to me twice unexpectedly recently--once when pouring cognac on some sauteeing mushrooms: the alcohol caught fire. I turned off the heat and let the alcohol burn off. Then again it happened when I was cooking sausages, I poked one with a fork and the grease caught on fire in the pan, but quickly self-extinguished. How does one keep this from happening when you don't want it to? And aside from the obvious-- don't add water to a grease fire --how do you get the flames quickly under control if it does happen?

  1. Click to Upload a photo (10 MB limit)
    1. Make sure you have a lid nearby so you can cover the pan quickly.

      LoL, GretchenS beat me to it.

      1. You should never add alcohol to a pan when it is over the fire and you should never pour from the bottle because of the risk of the fire traveling up into the bottle thereby causing it to explode.

        Having a lid on hand to put on a flaming pan is mandatory, and having the proper fire extinguisher is a very good idea.

        1 Reply
        1. re: Kelli2006

          Nothing like a little excessive caution to take all the fun out of it. I've been making steak diane for years, pouring the brandy straight over the sauteing mushrooms/shallots with my thumb over the bottle, then tipping a little out into the gas flame to get the flambe. Works perfectly every time. Really the only "rule" I follow for this process is that I'm never allowed to do it after more than three martinis :-). I also apply that rule to the 8 inch chef's knife, but not as rigorously.

          To the original question, colfaxBee, I concur--just have a lid on hand. When you think about it, you're on a metal stovetop, in a metal pan--where's it going to go, really? My brother was making lamb burgers the other night and punctured one of them. A stream of grease jetted out and a gigantic fireball shot halfway to the ceiling. You just jump back, give it five minutes to calm down and you're good to go.

        2. thanks! will be sure to never pour from the bottle again.

          1. off heat for adding flammables to the pan.

            two nights ago jfood got distracted and he heard "OMG jfood there's a fire on the stove". Seems he left the towel a bit to close to the flame...oops. Just calmly picked it up and placed it under some cold water in the sink. No biggie. Stay calm

            2 Replies
            1. re: jfood

              I wonder if it makes a differences that I use almost exclusively cast iron....does that perhaps mute the flammability factor? I've never taken the pan off the heat and never had a problem. I can't imagine actually how it would make a difference, as the pan would presumably retain heat for some time after being removed from flame. Unless, of course, you're accidentally getting alcohol into the flame itself when pouring over the heat, in which case you could definitely have a problem.

              1. re: mdzehnder

                You might just be lucky. I had some (mild) cognac flames in my cast iron.