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What do I do when I smell something burning in my pot of mutton in gravy? Stirring is the best way to prevent this but what if some charring has already taken place? Wouldn't it be better not to stir to avoid mixing in the charred portion? What is the best way to handle this emergency?

PS: What I'm asking here is quite different from: How do I get the burnt aroma off burnt food?

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Are you sure the burning is coming from the gravy? I sometimes get something under one of the burners (old electric stove, with open elements), and that burns, not the food. –  Joe Aug 29 '10 at 0:13
    
It was the gravy. I could feel the charred bits sticking to the bottom when stirring. –  Vulcan Eager Aug 29 '10 at 6:04
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up vote 5 down vote accepted

So with gravy, you are talking about a scorched taste. Once you smell it, it is probably too late to salvage it. If you want to try, the best course of action is to remove it from the heat (obviously) and carefully ladle off as much of the top of the pan as you can, leaving the scorched part on the bottom. Then taste what you ladled off and see if it is really edible. In my experience, people try to convince themselves that the scorched flavor isn't really there, but it is, and once it is, all is lost.

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If anyone else is in the house but not in the kitchen, have them be your taste-tester. Once you've smelled the burning scent for a while, you may not be as sensitive to the taste. –  JustRightMenus Aug 29 '10 at 4:21
    
@Just: This happened today at a friend's, my friend's wife left a pan on too high and her caramel browned just a little too much - the two of us in the kitchen couldn't really notice how bad it was and thought it was salvageable but the first person to come in a few minutes later commented right away. We had to start over. –  stephennmcdonald Aug 29 '10 at 6:27
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Once it's burnt there's nothing much you can do to salvage the dish. Pray and hope it doesn't affect the taste too much. Next time though, make sure the flame is on low - medium. And since I know it's mutton you've cooked, when you pressure cook it, make sure you add some water to it.

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Pressure cooked with enough water to cover all meat. Charring took place while the gravy was thickening. –  Vulcan Eager Aug 29 '10 at 6:08
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