The conflicting story of 'High Heat'

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The conflicting story of 'High Heat'

Have a question for the folks here regarding using 'high heat'.

 

It seems, to me, that there's quite a bit of conflicting sentiments about cranking up the knob.  Many chefs call for the use of high heat quite often, some claim that it's not really necessary.  To add to that, if you read the paperwork that comes with quite a bit of cookware (All Clad, Lodge Ceramic dutch ovens) they specifically state that the use of high heat is to be avoided when using their cookware.  I get that ceramic cookware could be damaged by prolonged use on high, but what about All-Clad's stainless cookware?

 

So, what's an amateur cook to think about the application of high heat?  Is it merely speed or personal preference or are there reasons behind keeping the heat a few notches lower?

 

Thoughts?

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It really depends on the application. When using a pan for dry heat techniques like sauteing and searing, high heat is necessary for both heat transfer and recovery. It is possible to brown things over medium to medium-high heat, but it does take much longer. This is fine if you're browning chicken skin before you braise it or something similar, but you'll never be able to successfully saute vegetables unless you have you're pan on high heat.

 

High heat can cause some cheaper pans to warp, especially if you put them in your sink and pour water over them while they're still hot.

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Go to an asian restaurant and ask them about high heat and their cookware.

 

As Chef Jacob said, it all depends on the application. Are you going to do roast beef at 500 degrees? Of course not, you would end up with a blackened and charred piece of leather that was still raw in the middle.

 

Cooking, at it's essence, can be defined as the application and control of heat on products to achieve a more appealing edible item.

 

The key word there is control. You will use high heat for some things, and low heat for others. When adding items to a pan you will momentarily raise the heat to account for a drop in pan temperature. You may start off a roast at a high temperature to get a brown and crisp skin, then lower the heat to provide more even cooking. Your mastery of heat determines how well you can cook.

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  These answers are spot on, and I'd like to add this.  It seems to me that over the years TV cooking shows have gone from teaching the audience techniques and recipes to teaching just recipes.  And in there lies the problem.  They all seem to start with a smoking hot pan. Even to brown garlic!  Try garlic with a cold pan with olive oil then low heat.  That will fragrance the oil and sublimely flavor the dish.  These shows have all taken on this same approach.  They use the same camera angles, same mic techniques, additions of the sounds of saute, the sexy steam shot, then the taste with the groan and eyes rolling back....total food porn.

  As foodies I think it's fair to say that most of us get that food is sensual, however, these shows have become rather cartoonish.  Give Julia and/or Jacque any day over Food TV.

  

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I agree with Nina.

The best cooking shows are on PBS not FN or CC!

 

I heard someone once say"I have to hurry home, I am learning to cook and I don't want to miss Chopped because I learn so much."  What!  You'd learn how not to combine gummy bears, uzu and chicken gizzards.  Watch AB, you'll learn more, albeit slowly.

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The best cooking show are on El Gourmet, but I don't know if any American cable or satellite companies carry it (nor if any of you speak Spanish). I love to watch Sumito Estévez, Donato de Santis, Francis Mallmann, and others.

I watch FoodNetwork for entertainment but El Gourmet for cooking.

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America's Test Kitchen and it's spinoff Cook's Country are both entertaining and educational, at least for me...

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I agree Alan, and also Alton Brown.  

 

  True story:  I saw a cookie recipe from a Food TV show that I decided to print and keep.  I found the recipe then read some of the reviews and was somewhat horrified to find that there are quite a few people out there who didn't understand the direction to "rotate the pans" halfway through baking.  More than one person said that they removed the pan, then flipped each cookie over with a spatula and returned the pan to the oven.  Sad.

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Nina,

 

None can be as bad as the blonde I knew who read a recipe that called for egg yolks and decided it would be easier to get the yolks out of the eggs if she hard boiled them.

 

:rolls-eyes: surprise

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Labs, you bring back memories. I was once called at 2AM by a frantic sweetheart trying to make a cake - from a mix, mind you. He could not figure out how to "make" egg whites.

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Maybe start with brown eggs and add a little bleach? ROTFL!

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That’s better than thinking Cream of Tartar for baking came from dental offices. I eventually figured that one out...

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So while we're trading stories, here's mine:

 

While I was going to culinary school, I was an unpaid apprentice at a Michelin Starred Restaurant owned by an old school French Chef (meaning he had a slight temper). We had another culinary school student in for a stage, trying out for a full time apprenticeship and the sous chef asked him to drain the veal stock.

 

After about five minutes the kid comes back carrying a 5 gallon cambro filled with the cooked bones and mirepoix, asking the sous chef where he wants it. He had actually dumped the stock down the drain and saved the spent bones and mirepoix.

 

The lead line cook, fearing that a bloodied kitchen and murder investigation would put prep farther in the weeds, grabbed the confused stagier by the jacket, pulled him out the back door as fast as he could and screamed at the top of his lungs "RUN!"

 

Needless to say, we never say him again.

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This reminds me of a time working with a kid fresh out of culinary school.  The first thing we had him do was make mashers.  After he finished, we deviously told him they were way to salty and had no time to make another batch.  We sent him to the store across the street and told him to buy as much salt neutralizer as he could.  When he came back with nothing he explained that he asked everyone working at the store but no one knew what it was.  He realized what happened when me and the other line cook almost starting crying.  Ended up being a badass linecook though  Gotta love those gullible kids that never worked in a kitchen.

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Well you all managed to keep me laughing with these stories. Thanks :)

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I don’t even want to know if anyone was asked to use a candy thermometer for frying and used gummy worms instead. Candy thermometers are just so hard to find!

 

OK, I just made that up. Surprised I didn’t ask that one myself when I was a kid, though :)

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cheeky A wonderful example of how threads can meander and go completely astray.

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