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We have a carbon steel pan that we love and use a lot. We get boxes from Hello Fresh lately and we seem to have the same problem over and over: We will get a recipe that calls for pan roasting a piece of chicken or beef or whatnot and they expect you to make a pan sauce with the fond.

In our case, however, by the time the meat is cooked acceptably (and for beef that's medium rare and for white meat chicken that's 155+ in my book) the fond in the pan is invariably charcoal, and totally unusable for a pan sauce. We wind up either cleaning the pan and reducing the sauce "nude" from the remainder of the ingredients or accepting a muddy black colored pan sauce that isn't very appetizing.

What are we doing wrong?

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    In my experience, carbon steel pans get hot and hotter, keep an eye on the temperature. – Max Jun 7 '18 at 13:17
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If your fond is burning, your pan is too hot. Preheat your pan over medium or low heat. Add your protein. Monitor the cooking so that you get browning, even deep browning, but not burning. It is ok to remove the pan from the flame if it seems to be smoking or getting too hot.

  • I will give that a try at our next opportunity and report back. – nsayer Jun 7 '18 at 0:48
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Assuming you have successfully cooked meat previously the way you like it in this particular pan, it sounds to me the cuts of meat from your supplier have a different fat/moisture content from what you are used to cooking with.

If you are "dry frying" you may need to kick off the maillard reaction by adding a touch of butter/olive oil etc. This will improve the heat transfer from the pan, and allow the emerging meat juices to carmelise. I'd also be tempted to lower the heat a bit and cover the pan if necessary to allow the meat to cook through - you can always crank it up at the end to get the finish/fond you want.

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    I think, as the other answer said, lowering the heat may be the answer. I'm going to try that and report back. Covering it is a good idea too. I've done that to reduce bullseye in thicker steaks and for melting the cheese on a burger. – nsayer Jun 7 '18 at 0:58

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