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High Heat vs. Deglazing

I'm looking to replace my Le Crueset, likely with Staub. I've read that these are great for low to medium heat cooking. Seems a good fit for sautéing, braising, boiling, and so forth. I've read that cast iron without the enamel (i.e. Lodge) is ideal for high heat, primarily searing, and also for frying.

Here's what I'm stuck on: Quite often, when I'm cooking meat, I'll turn the heat to high, then sear the meat, then I'll toss the meat into oven to finish it, say, at around 350. After that's done, I'll want to deglaze the plan, to create a sauce from the fat and other materials that are in it.

What is the ideal material and type of pan for this scenario?

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  1. Well if you want to do high heat to sear and then deglaze, the high heat may rule out tin lined copper and deglazing may rule out carbon steel or cast iron. How about a stainless lined heavy copper? Seriously, enameled CI fills the bill pretty well. A deglaze and scraping up of fond is not the super delicate sort of sauce that demands great temperature control, such as you'd want for Bernaise. I will be interested if you take this plunge to see if you thought it was a good upgrade. I'd keep the LC and invest in a heavy (3 mm if you can find it, 2.5 if you can't) tin lined copper sauce pan, sautoir, rondeau, or any combination thereof.

    3 Replies
    1. re: tim irvine

      Tim, this is consistent with what Kaleo said and matches how I was thinking as well.

      I've ruled out enameled CI because they say it's not for high heat. Right?

      Let's say we did this on cast iron. How would you deglaze (i.e. what liquid would you safely use to deglaze on the cast iron)?

      1. re: mitchmu

        I am probably the wrong guy to ask as (a) I am okay with using enameled CI with fairly high heat and (b) I abuse the heck out of my DeBuyer steel pans, including deglazing with wine and even the occasional bit of lemon or vinegar. Their finish (seasoning) bounces back with the frying of some bacon.

      2. re: tim irvine

        For me, stainless-lined heavy copper is the ideal vehicle for browning then deglazing. It's not easy to find at a reasonable price, but it's out there.

        While you search, a bare cast iron skillet that's sufficiently well seasoned puts a nice sear on things; it does take a little longer to cool down to the point where deglazing happens without all the liquid boiling away immediately. Just as Tim notes for carbon steel, frying some bacon (or baking some cornbread with the pan greased with bacon fat) restores the finish promptly on cast iron.

      3. You might investigate de Buyer bluesteel pans. They are sold through Amazon, and there are ample reviews of them there.

        Good luck!

        1 Reply
        1. re: sueatmo

          Thank you. These look very interesting. I'll dig around for reviews.

        2. What you are describing just scream STAUB. Sear in cast iron, finish in the oven, deglaze when it comes out of the oven.

          I own an All-Clad Copp'r Core Dutch Oven and tried something similar with it once or twice and wasn't happy with the results. I currently buy Demeyere Atlantis for my stainless steel needs and think one of their pans would work well IF you really want stainless steel.

          I also use De Buyer mineral pans and Lodge raw cast iron. Both work really well for this type of thing EXCEPT when you cook with acidic ingredients or tomatoes.

          So for one pan, I'd go with a Staub oval dutch oven (more length for boned meats - legs). For a complementary pan, it's hard to argue against a De Buyer Mineral "Country Pan" which is sort of like a deep skillet. A steak in the De Buyer finished off in the oven and basted with real butter (and herbs of choice) will rival high end restaurants if you start with a really great cut of meat.

          1. Hi, Mitch:

            You've confused me a bit. Staub and LC cast iron perform indistinguishably.

            But let's go at this logically. The first step is a pan that you can sear in, and unless you sear dry and at very high heat, pretty much everything except PTFE-coated pans can do that. If you sear dry and very high, bare cast iron is least likely to fail or be damaged.

            And virtually everything that fits is fine in a 350F oven, unless for some reason it has plastic handles that aren't recommended for oven use at all.

            Will your integral sauces be acidic? If so, you should either expect to reseason your bare iron or steel pans regularly or choose another material. But if not, again, almost anything will work, but stainless and tin linings tend to make better fond.

            The next step is how you handle your sauces. If they need to be reduced over time, you'll likely need a higher-walled pan than a skillet. If they're temperature sensitive, you probably want a high-conductivity metal for its responsiveness. In other words, CI is not ideal for sauces.

            So...for high heat searing and flexibility for making a range of sauces, my ideal would be one barenaked CI skillet *and* a tinned copper splayed saucepan (a/k/a a "Windsor" or a sauteuse evasee), and transfer the fond from e skillet right after deglazing. And if I had to do it 1-pan, it would probably be a SS-lined copper Windsor in the smallest size suited to your meat quantity; in the case of sticker shock, I'd pick a Windsor or Lyonnaise pan in carbon steel.

            Aloha,
            Kaleo

            2 Replies
            1. re: kaleokahu

              Hi Kaleo.

              I'd like to clarify something.

              I think LC is junk. In just a few years, I've had problems with everything I've bought from them. I have a small sauce pan that I've had to replace. On the replacement, I now find that the handle is cracked and broken. On another one, I had to replace the knob for the cover. Another one is warped. And, in my dutch oven, the porcelain "exploded" this weekend and now pieces of iron under the porcelain are exposed. This is 4 pieces of LC that have each failed to perform despite my best efforts to treat them with care and respect. This was the final straw. This is why I'm looking at a replacement strategy and choosing Staub as the primary alternative. I've got 1 piece from Staub and have found it to be of demonstrably better quality.

              Typically, when I sear meat, I've been taught to do it at high heat with the goal to quickly get the browning reactions then bring the meat to the oven for slower and more gentle cooking that that gives the connective tissues time to break down.

              So, isn't it true that most meat searing would be done at high heat?

              I never do it dry. Typically, I cut off fat from the meat, render that fat, then sear the meat in its own fat.

              When they say that LC/Staub is for low-medium, it seems that rules out this technique. No?

              It confuses me because I don't think I'm doing anything unusual. I've always understood this is the basic method to sear/brown many types of meat that will then be roasted.

              As for sauces, typically I will add acid during the deglazing stage. Lemon juice. Vinegar. Wine. Etc.

              You have confirmed my concern that the acidity is an issue for bare iron or steel, and I'm awful at seasoning pans, so I don't want to get something that requires re-seasoning. Hence, elimination of Lodge, for example, as a candidate for this.

              So, it sounds like your primary recommendation is a cast iron skillet like a Lodge, then you'd deglaze it, then transfer the fond to a tinned Windsor style sauce plan for the sauce work and reduction.

              As I think about this, it makes a lot of sense.

              How would you deglaze the cast iron skillet? I usually would think to use some kind of acid in that process, which then creates the patina problem.

              I've also been told that you want to make the sauce in the same pan as the roasting, to collect all the flavors. But, I guess for optimal overall performance, I'd have to let go of this idea.

              1. re: mitchmu

                Hi, Mitch:

                Wow, you've had some bad luck with LC. I'm not a fan of it either, but I've not had the kinds of problems you have. In retrospect, I wish I had--it'd given me an excuse to get rid of it sooner.

                Do you have access to an IR thermometer gun? It would be interesting to learn what temp your pan is getting to at the flop. Most people are surprised to learn the temp is lower than they thought.

                As for how to deglaze, basically any thin liquid works. I use mostly wine and/or stock. You can do it on or off the heat. You just add the liquid and mechanically work in onto the fond to dissolve it. I use a wooden spoon or spatula because of my tin linings, but metal works great on iron and steel.

                Once the pan is fully deglazed, you lose nothing in the way of flavor by transferring the glace to another pan.

                I almost hate to recommend this, but if you want a 1-pan path that goes through high heat, acidic deglaze, oven finish, and no re-season, it might be the rare situation where the black enameled CI skillet would be a good choice. I dislike these things because they're so uneven and non-responsive. But if those aspects haven't bothered you with your LC, maybe you should get a Staub skillet, or even the paella pan: http://www.williams-sonoma.com/produc... .

                Aloha,
                Kaleo

            2. < I've read that these are great for low to medium heat cooking.>

              Sure.

              < I've read that cast iron without the enamel (i.e. Lodge) is ideal for high heat>

              Your above statement is not wrong per se, but it is incomplete. Bare cast iron can handle low to medium heat just as well as enameled cast iron cookware.

              <After that's done, I'll want to deglaze the plan, to create a sauce from the fat and other materials that are in it. >

              Based on what you said (and only what you said), stainless steel cladded cookware fit your description. They can handle high heat. They heat evenly, and they are very friendly toward deglazing.

              However, stainless steel surface cookware can be sticky (food sticking to them). This is something you need to watch out for.

              I actually like to use bare cast iron and bare carbon steel to do the things which you mentioned, but you need to be careful during deglazing.

              2 Replies
              1. re: Chemicalkinetics

                Thanks for your reply, Chemical. To clarify, yes, cast iron is good for both low-medium and high heat cooking but I was concerned about deglazing. Since the patina/coating is important on cast iron that doesn't have a porcelain coating, I've assumed that it would be difficult to deglaze on it. When you said that I'd need to "be careful" I assume this is what you are referring to. That's the reason I ruled out cast iron such as Lodge as the ideal option for this application.

                1. re: mitchmu

                  <Since the patina/coating is important on cast iron that doesn't have a porcelain coating, I've assumed that it would be difficult to deglaze on it. >

                  It depends the time and the acidity. You just need to know the limitation/boundary. I deglaze on mine all the time.

                  <That's the reason I ruled out cast iron such as Lodge as the ideal option for this application.>

                  Sure. Your best bet is stainless steel surface for what you have described. It can handle high heat. It can handle rough physical scraping. It can handle highly acidic solution.