There’s nothing worse than a torn fish fillet or a steak that left its beautiful browned crust behind in the pan.
4 Ways to Keep Meat and Fish from Sticking to Your Pan
Why do proteins sometimes cling so tenaciously to the metal of a pan or grill, then tear if you try to flip them?
When meat or fish touch a hot metal pan, the heat unravels (or denatures) the muscle proteins, exposing a lot of their surface to the metal.
The proteins then start to form chemical bonds with the metal, causing them to stick. (In a conventional nonstick pan, where the atoms in the coating are extremely tightly bonded to each other, they’re not available to form new bonds with food.)
At the same time, the microscopic pits and cracks in the surface of the metal help proteins grip the pan.
But you needn’t cook all your proteins in a nonstick skillet. If you follow these four tips, you’ll find that any skillet can produce tear-free results.
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How to Keep Proteins from Sticking to the Pan
1. Make sure your pan is hot enough.
Be sure to get your pan sufficiently hot before adding the protein, since heat helps to break the bonds.
2. Use enough fat.
If there’s enough oil on the food and in the pan to fill in the metal’s micro-cracks, it will provide a barrier between the protein and the metal and inhibit bonding.
3. Be patient.
With continued cooking, the surface of the meat starts to dry out, which causes it to contract and its proteins to coagulate, bonding more to themselves and less to the metal.
4. Look for browning.
The Maillard reaction that creates browning causes proteins to break down and react with each other and with sugars, which in turn means they are no longer available to bond to the metal.
To learn more about the science of sticking proteins, check out the below video from Cook’s Illustrated Editor-in-Chief Dan Souza.
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Absolutely the best chicken ever, even the breast meat was moist! It's the only way I'll cook a whole chicken again. Simple, easy, quick, no mess - perfect every time. I've used both stainless steel and cast iron pans. great and easy technique for “roasted” chicken. I will say there were no pan juices, just fat in the skillet. Will add to the recipe rotation. Good for family and company dinners too. I've done this using a rimmed sheet pan instead of a skillet and put veggies and potatoes around the chicken for a one-pan meal. Broccoli gets nicely browned and yummy!
Absolutely the best chicken ever, even the breast meat was moist! It's the only way I'll cook a whole chicken again. Simple, easy, quick, no mess - perfect every time. I've used both stainless steel and cast iron pans. great and easy technique for “roasted” chicken. I will say there were no pan juices, just fat in the skillet. Will add to the recipe rotation. Good for family and company dinners too.
Amazed this recipe works out as well as it does. Would not have thought that the amount of time under the broiler would have produced a very juicy and favorable chicken with a very crispy crust. Used my 12" Lodge Cast Iron skillet (which can withstand 1000 degree temps to respond to those who wondered if it would work) and it turned out great. A "make again" as my family rates things. This is a great recipe, and I will definitely make it again. My butcher gladly butterflied the chicken for me, therefore I found it to be a fast and easy prep. I used my cast iron skillet- marvellous!
John, wasn't it just amazing chicken? So much better than your typical oven baked chicken and on par if not better than gas or even charcoal grilled. It gets that smokey charcoal tasted and overnight koshering definitely helps, something I do when time permits. First-time I've pierced a whole chicken minus the times I make jerk chicken on the grill. Yup, the cast iron was not an issue.