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Nov 6, 2013 09:23 AM

How do you manage smoke?

I'm talking about high heat searing on cast iron. A couple steaks or a pork chop etc...

I used my grill outside to sear chops the other day, and while it worked it was quite inconvenient. My "hood" sucks here. It's just a couple small vents under my mounted microwave.

Any tricks or techniques you guys/gals in apartments use to cook up super flavorful seared meat without the lingering smell for days and all that smoke?

I watch all these videos of people cooking up awesome looking food, but they all have nice hood systems in their homes...

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  1. Easy— turn down the heat. Smoking hot is not necessary to produce the browning reactions which add to the flavor.

    10 Replies
    1. re: GH1618

      GH, really? Steak au poivre? That smoked out my whole place and wasn't as browned as I would have liked it.... I believe that was a touch less than medium heat on a cast iron skillet...

      So turn down the heat and just sear longer on each side till my desired color is achieved? I feel that my meat will be too dry if I cook too long on a lower heat.... Maybe I'm way off..

      1. re: Kleraudio

        Well, it's a tradeoff. I assume you are using oil with a high smoke point? I don't think there's any magic solution which will give you the best of both worlds. It's a matter of finding the optimal balance.

        1. re: Kleraudio

          I know the sous vide people sometimes get their sear with a blowtorch. You could try using one to put the finishing touches on a cast-iron-cooked steak.

        2. re: GH1618

          I agree, I only let my pan get smoking hot for particular steaks and Zuni chicken, otherwise searing in a hot pan doesn't cause any smoke really and creates a nice browned crust.

          1. re: fldhkybnva

            What settings do you use and how long do you preheat the pan? I'd love to create browned crusts on meats without all the smoke!

            1. re: Kleraudio

              I'm not aure how to answer as I just heat it up until I can barely hold my hand over the pan for longer than a few seconds, add oil or oil the meat. If you add oil to the pan it will shimmer and that's when I usually know. I usually just turn the burner to medium-high heat 7/10 or so and then set a quick timer for a few minute then check it. I'm using a cast iron usually so it takes a while to heat up evenly so you might not need that long. Also if you're preheating a pan it's better to do it at moderate heat for longer than very high heat. Also you can dip a corner of whatever you're cooking into the pan to hear if it sizzles. You shouldn't have a problem with smoking at all. I only have smoke with super high heat for specific purpose - searing skirt or flank steak or the Zuni chicken when it's in the oven and the fat is burning. Otherwise, searing a chicken breast, pork chop or anything else shouldn't cause smoking. Although maybe I should ask, what oil are you using?

              1. re: fldhkybnva

                Thanks for the reply. The hand over the pot trick doesnt work for me as my hands are pretty callused from years of working with them. Sooo I just let it heat up about 4 minutes on medium (SS saute pan, all clad) till a few drops of water evaporate immediately. Then I add some oil, the oil I use is a blend of canola and safflower oil, sold as frying oil in the supermarket, so the smoke point is rather high.

                I let that sit for about 30 seconds till it shimmers and put the food in. Then up comes the smoke, and the oil splatter!!

                And I don't use much oil either, 1tbsp at most.

                1. re: Kleraudio

                  This sounds very odd to me :) If it's smoking then your oil is hotter than you think is the only thing I can think of.

                  1. re: Kleraudio

                    Are you sure it's smoke and not steam? Splatter means your food is wet. Are you drying the surface of the steak thoroughly before searing?

                    1. re: Scrofula

                      I am yes. I pat dry pretty good with paper towels.

          2. I open the windows for a while. Even when it's cold but we don't get below 32 very often here. If I cook some sort of long simmering dish that leaves linger smells I'll light a vanilla candle and/or simmer some orange peel and cloves for a while. Incense works well but in your case that would just be more smoke.

            1. One thing that helps is to coat the meat lightly with oil and use a dry pan (no oil in the pan). It will still smoke but not as much as a pan coated with burning oil.

              1. I cheat and clear the smoke by turning on the whole house fan for a minute or two.

                1. Wipe your walls and ceiling down when you cook like that. It can often leave behind residue on them which will contribute to the lingering smell. I have the same problem when I cook with my pressure cooker, it makes a mess of my ceiling, lol.

                  There are also smokeless electric grills you may want to consider - though I would go with a better brand since the cheaper models don't get very hot. The way they work is pretty simple - there is a pan of water under the grill to catch the fat so it doesn't burn up and smoke.