Friday, June 26, 2009


Okay, we have the Wing Steak grilled to perfection at this point, and you can refer back to my last post to see how that was done. But I want to serve the steak with a nice mound of sauteed mushrooms and onions on top. And that is really simple to do provided you have one essential ingredient. Heat.

Browning anything in a pan requires enough heat to quickly sear whatever it is you are cooking. For instance, how many times have you ever started out a pork chop or a breast of chicken in a frying pan only to have it come out of the pan with no color whatsoever. Usually the chop or chicken ends up simmering in their own juices instead of browning, right?

Yeah...I know.

The reason for this is a lack of heat. In order to properly brown anything in a pan you need a smoking hot pan. Most of the time the average home range isn't capable of producing enough heat to sear anything. They have no guts.

If I want to brown anything - especially meat - I use a large cast iron pan to do it. This is because cast iron pans are made of thick, heavy steel and they absorb and hold a lot of heat. This steel gets nice and hot and transfers well to whatever you are cooking. Thinner pans hold less heat and transfer less heat as a result.

The other nice thing about a cast iron pan is that it can be put into the oven to finish a dish without having to worry about a handle melting. That's a great feature for braising meats or for finishing a one pan, two step dish.

So, mushrooms taste best when they have a little color on them. This is especially true when served with beef. And, as you might expect, I like to use a cast iron pan at home when I brown them.

Here the cast iron pan is set on the burner. You can see that the pan is lightly coated in oil. This is because the pan is seasoned well. What that means is that a film of oil has developed on the surface of the pan over time and has been maintained after each use. This ensures a non-stick surface.

I have used a lot of pans as a chef. I have used cheap pans that have been great and cheap pans that have been garbage; I have used expensive pans that have been great and expensive pans that have been garbage, but the most important thing to remember with pans is to use each pan for specific things.

This cast iron pan is used for frying. I say frying rather than sauteing because in order to saute, you must jump or flip the food. Nobody flips cast iron. It's just too heavy! So...I fry.

I turn the heat on under the pan and allow the iron to get really hot. This takes a bit of time because it is a thick chunk of steel. I allow 10 to 15 minutes for it to get hot. Yeah...I'm not kidding...I allow that long for the pan to heat. It isn't dangerous to do so. It won't melt, it won't explode and it won't catch on fire. There isn't anything in it. Trust me!

Once the pan is nice and hot, I add some oil for frying. Here I use a little olive oil. Once th eoil is added to the pan I allow it to get hot.

The oil is hitting the smoking point. An oil's smoking point is the temperature at which is begins to smoke. Kind of obvious, huh? This olive oil is an high end extra virgin olive oil and has a smoking point of 375 degrees. So, that is about how hot the oil is after being in the pan for about a minute. The pan, however, is much hotter than that.

I add the sliced mushrooms and julienne of white onion to the hot fat. I allow the mushrooms to brown. I stir periodically. Pretty simple stuff really. Just stir once in a while and allow even browning.

When they are browned enough, I season them with sea salt, cracked black pepper and fresh rosemary. Done deal!

And on the steak they go.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

the underrated vegetable....nothing better than mushrooms