When cooking minced meat in particular (and most meat as far as I know), some grey, gooey stuff usually turn up on one side.

Its also apparent when doing certain sous vide things and chicken (in that case white).

As I've understood it, that's denatured proteins that are forced out of the meat. But in that case - shouldn't it always be like that, just that we often don't see it because we brown it immediately?

So my hypothesis is that the good brown stuff in the bottom of the pan that we use when deglazing, really just is browned "grey stuff". And not to any large extent "parts of the meat that gets stuck", since when it happens, it is very annoying, and i cant imagine how it can get stuck "a little".

Is this correct?

EDIT: I'll rephrase it: What approximate proportions are between

  1. browned protein scum
  2. browned small stuck pieces of meat

In the bottom of the pan right before deglazing?

And could I scrape off the grey stuff from say a meatloaf and fry it separately to get an awesome sauce?

  • I have trouble understanding the question. First, what is the difference between "protein scum" and "small stuck pieces of meat"? The meat itself is made out of the same protein, plus some others.
    – rumtscho
    Jun 17, 2016 at 15:09
  • @rumtscho That's kind of part of the question - do the stuck bits actually happen, and if they do, how much and are they different or important in any way? (Note that quantity is a potential difference, not just protein composition, as is the way it browns in the pan.)
    – Cascabel
    Jun 17, 2016 at 16:25

1 Answer 1


Fond isn't just browned protein scum. There really are small bits of meat/fat that get stuck on the pan, and you should be able to see them before they're thoroughly browned/burned if you pay close attention.

That kind of sticking isn't the same as when meat sticks really obviously and badly. When that happens, you'll naturally notice when you try to move the meat, and be aware of what's sticking to the pan. But even without that kind of awful sticking, you can have tiny little pieces that stick, then tear away from the bulk of the meat when you turn it. You won't notice nearly as easily, because most of the meat isn't stuck.

The exact details depend on the type and cut of meat, I suppose, but in general it's quite easy for this to happen.

As for the additional questions... proportions probably vary a lot, but I'm guessing in terms of protein and fat (i.e. without the water that you're just going to cook off) there may actually be a lot more in the stuck bits than in the juices and protein scum. I know that the really good fonds come from pans that have a lot of obvious stuck bits, not just an even coating of cooked-down liquid across the pan. I'm sure you could make something without any stuck bits, but you probably won't be able to make nearly as much as you'd get from the normal process.

  • Thanks for your reply. You did answer my original question, but I have updated the post to better reflect what I actually was wondering.
    – NiklasJ
    Jun 17, 2016 at 8:30

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