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Over the weekend, I was making omelets for 5 people in a single frying pan. The first few came out fine, but by the time I got to the fifth one...well, I'm glad that one was mine. The pan had gotten so hot that the eggs burned almost immediately, and while it was still edible, it certainly wasn't good.

How can I prevent the pan from overheating when cooking for multiple people? I've had this problem before with some other foods as well (e.g., quesadillas), but the problem is most pronounced with eggs, at least for me.

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What kind of pan are you using? –  rfusca Feb 7 '12 at 19:23
    
Telfon, usually. –  VolcanoLotus Feb 7 '12 at 19:45

5 Answers 5

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I have had the same issue when cooking lots of quesadillas, and have found the following combination of techniques to work quite well.

The obvious answer has been hit upon already, lower the heat. But I think that's missing an important aspect of the issue. What's happening is most likely that you are turning on the heat and then cooking your first omelet before the pan has actually reached temperature. Depending on the type of pan, it can take up to 5 mins for the pan to reach temperature. So, as you continue to cook, the pan is getting closer to temperature. Of course, each time you add more cold egg, the temp decreases again. So your heat is too hot, but it doesn't really become apparent until the last omelet. Rather than just starting at a lower temperature though, start at the same temp you tried and then turn down the temperature as you continue to cook.

The pan can also heat rapidly between omelets. Take the pan off the heat, swirl your butter or oil through it, add the egg, and then put it back on the heat. If it seems really hot when you add the egg, you can cook it for a second with just the radiant heat of the pan before returning to the burner. This will stop the pan from getting too hot between omelets.

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This may sound like a snarky answer but it's not intended to be. Since the pan is getting too hot, you need to lower the temperature. Start out with a lower temperature and let the pan heat up fully before you cook your first omelet.

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No snark interpreted. I try to have the heat as low as I can that doesn't take a prohibitively long time; the first omelet took about 15 minutes to cook, so I started turning it up a bit and turning it back down or off between omelets. This was an old electric stove that has a big jump in heat between high simmer and medium, so perhaps it was just the element that made it impossible to make them in under an hour and not burn any of them. –  VolcanoLotus Feb 7 '12 at 18:09
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15 minutes is a long time for 1 omelet. You may want to elaborate more on your process. –  rfusca Feb 7 '12 at 18:24
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If you can't control the heat better due to stove limits, a few things to try (a) use a heat diffuser between the burner and the pan (this will make the burner more even and importantly cooler); (b) remove the pan from the burner and allow it to cool a little between omelets; (c) dump a little water in the pan (e.g., deglaze with water), boiling water takes a lot of energy, which will suck heat out of the pan –  derobert Feb 7 '12 at 19:16
    
@rfusca Exactly - the problem I always seem to have is that either the heat is on too low and it takes an absurdly long time to cook, or too high and it'll burn the later food items. I'm not changing the settings wildly, either. Perhaps it's just that I've had the bad fortune of always having really bad electric stovetops. –  VolcanoLotus Feb 7 '12 at 19:47
    
@derobert That's very helpful, thanks! I think that would make a good answer on its own. –  VolcanoLotus Feb 7 '12 at 19:47

It's a very simple solution: lower the heat. You can always put it back at a higher temperature if you see that the eggs cook too slow now. It can also be necessary to put extra grease in your pan after 2 or 3 omelets.

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Two things. One, as has been touched upon in other answers, cook with lower heat. Also, you may want to have a second pan, and rotate between them with each omelet. This would allow each pan to cool, so that it would not retain enough heat to burn your eggs.

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I remember hearing Bobby Flay say on one of his dozen shows, when he want to make the next one, he puts cold butter on the pan. It will cool off the pan while its melting.

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