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Jan 22, 2012 01:27 PM

Sauté pan &skillet smokes- help!

I recently bought a great quality skillet and sauté pan. I've used both twice for browning meat and both times a lot of smoke was coming from the sides of the pan creating a blackness around the edges and bottom. My question is: is this inevitable when cooking with high heat and if so, is there any way to decrease the smoke? In terms of cleanup I have been using bar keepers friend which works great for the bottom but the sides are very stubborn to clean off. The pans I use are stainless steal with Aluminum encapsulated base. I need to keep the smoke alarm from going off.

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  1. liza: <<I need to keep the smoke alarm from going off.>>

    I put a plastic bag from the supermarket over mine.

    7 Replies
    1. re: Jay F

      Good idea- I guess my real question is should they be smoking that much in the first place? If so is there any way to mitigate it?

      1. re: liza_104

        Use an oil with a high smoke point, and lower the temp you're cooking with. That might help. Good cookware rarely requires high heat if you've given the pan enough time to preheat, and use a good oil. My s/s skillets and sautes are happy with med/med-high heat and my patience to wait for the pan to heat up before I add the oil. I get great browning and sear that way.

        I'm thinking the black on your pan may be carbonization and may take a bit of elbow grease to get off.

        1. re: breadchick

          I always use olive oil- is this a good option for high heat? Ive never tried waiting for the pan to heat before adding oil- thanks!

          1. re: liza_104

            When you use clad SS fry and saute pans, you want to heat the pan first, then the oil, then whatever you're cooking. Then you need to be patient and wait for the protein you're cooking to release itself. Don't pull on it because you think it should be done. It will let you know. It takes a little practice, however.

            1. re: liza_104

              Olive oil actually has a low smoke point. You'd be better off with a good vegetable oil, peanut oil, etc.

              That said, I'm sure lots of folks saute with olive oil, so perhaps the lower temperature is the key.

              Good luck!

              1. re: liza_104

                I prefer canola oil or ghee (clarified butter) for high temperature searing. Olive oil is great to drizzle over foods AFTER they have been cooked, to retain all that wonderful extra virgin flavor. I also use olive oil in my custom sauces but then my temperatures are a simmer-saute, and nowhere close to searing temps.

                I'm kinda guessing that your temp is just too darn high. So, you may wish to consider getting an infrared thermometer. I find mine invaluable and they have really come down in price. You can get some of these now for only $20-25.

                Heck ... you may wish to get a 10" cast iron skillet for searing - they are cheap and, after seasoning, will be just bulletproof. You'll never worry about blackening them :-)

            2. re: liza_104

              If you use high heat, yes, this kind of thing will happen. I open my kitchen window and stick a fan in it when I find myself creating a lot of smoke. But I'm not a big searer, so other contributors will be able to instruct you better than I.

          2. Are you cooking with gas? Perhaps your fuel/air ratio is off.

            3 Replies
            1. re: GH1618

              Yes I'm cooking with gas and I always use the highest setting.

              1. re: liza_104

                The question is whether the calibration is off, not what setting you are using. Is the problem observed only for particular pans at this setting and not for others?


                1. re: GH1618

                  My gas is natural and seem consistent with the coloring your link suggested. When i use a Dutch oven I get no smoke -only w s/s.

            2. What type of scrubber tool will help to remove the blackness from my pan?

              1. "a lot of smoke was coming from the sides of the pan creating a blackness around the edges and bottom"

                So you said coming from the bottom, right? There are two reasons for this. One is that the bottom of your pan is not clean. It has oil, so as the temperature raise, the bottom of the pan smokes. Two, the more likely reason, your stove is not clean and there is oil. As you increases the temperature, the stove heats up. Now, the oil around your stove releases oil smoke.

                Try this. If you just turn on the stoves, without the cookware, does it start to smoke?

                2 Replies
                1. re: Chemicalkinetics

                  I think you're right. Apparently it only happens with certain pans, so they must have something on them which needs to be cleaned off. SS is not going to smoke. BKF and elbow grease is called for.

                  1. re: GH1618

                    "SS is not going to smoke"

                    Agree. Not until you start to melt the pan. :P

                2. Hi, Liza:

                  Might I suggest that browning (as opposed to blackening) meat in a great-quality skillet ought not to require maxing out your gas hob. IME, if the sizzle is there at 7 or 8, there is no reason to go to 11. Either that approach, or flop in the meat at 11 and back off the heat after a minute of high sear.

                  No worries. Enjoy.