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A lot of western recipes call for developing a generous, nicely browned fond on a cooking surface after browning meat. Sometimes I get none, sometimes i can tear the surface of the meat off altogether.

What are the factors behind reliably achieving a great fond?

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Avoid non-stick pans. Heat the pan before you place the meat or fat in the pan. Use medium to medium high heat. Add fat (oil, butter, for example). Add the meat (pat dry), but don't crowd the pan. Cook in batches if necessary, but too many (more than 2 or 3?) will mean that the fond will burn, so you may need a bigger pan, or two pans. Place meat in pan. Don't move it until you notice browning and it releases naturally from the bottom...or with very gentle pressure. By the way, vegetables can also produce a fond. Same rules apply.

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    Just to note that there are other fats than oil and butter. I use goose fat for quite a lot of things, it has s higher smoke point than butter and the flavour isn’t intrusive in savoury dishes. – Spagirl Feb 21 '18 at 16:04
  • @Spagirl fair...I made a slight edit above. – moscafj Feb 21 '18 at 16:08
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    Probably worth noting that the meat (or vegetable) should be patted dry prior to being put in the pan, or you also encounter the issue of it steaming instead of searing, which creates the fond. This can be particularly problematic with mince (or ground) meats, and why it's difficult to get color on them if you put even a smidge too much in the pan. – Tim Post Feb 21 '18 at 17:52
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The fond is a great flavor component. It forms from the Maillard reaction browning the surface of the food. These bits then are incorporated into pan sauces and stocks, etc... This is usually through de-glazing with a liquid, such as wine, stock or vinegar.

First step is to have the meat come to room temperature before putting in the pan. If it is cold, then precious heat is lost warming the meat instead of starting the reaction and browning. Also, the meat should be dry, or initial heat creates steam, which also robs precious heat.

'Hot pan, hot oil.' Start with the pan warmed to medium high. Then add the oil and swirl around until it shimmers and loosens up. You must use a pan that allows the food to adhere at first, then release. Stainless steel and wrought steel are the best. Cast iron, is seasoned, generally does not produce great fond, and you don't want to hit it with acid anyway.

Add your meat, and allow it to sear for several minutes without disturbing. You can lightly prod it to see if it is ready

If the pan is overcrowded, the food will steam instead of browning, as there is not enough room for the water to escape. Leave a good 1/2 inch between the pieces during browning.

To make use of the fond is deglazing, a different topic, but the basic is addition of a flavorful liquid. Just be careful, because your pan is full of hot oil and spattering will occur. The fond can be loosened and incorporated into the sauce with a spoon or tongs or whatever inplement you are using.

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