Serious Eats: Talk
I'm Hung Up on "High Heat" Hyperbole
Prepare for rant. . .and question.
Very often, I read recipes online that call for getting a skillet (usually cast iron or stainless steel) prepped on the stove on high heat. I generally find these recipes on pretty reputable sites -- I'm not one for trusting obvious amateurs, although I try to keep an open mind.
Generally speaking, this rarely works for me. A few examples:
In prepared a fried rice dish, I'm instructed to get my skillet sizzling on high heat for a few minutes before adding the oil and then, when it's hot, adding the thinnish pieces of beef. The instructions says to let brown, tossing quickly, then reserve.
Problem? The beef and it's marinade (which I've carefully wiped off, even though the instructions don't indicate that) are blackened on the bottom of the skillet within seconds. Even if I remove the skillet from the heat, the very sparse liquid immediately turns into a black sheet. No, it's not fond, my friends. :) It requires an immediate scrub out and re-heat.
Another issue? Screaming hot case iron pans. I have a standard 12 inch Lodge that was in perfect shape when I got it. I've cared for it well ever since. However, at some point, the bottom completely bowed -- it's more like a bowl now, and is completely useless to me. And no, I didn't thrust it into a forge or try seasoning it on the oven's clean cycle.
I am open to the idea that I'm doing something wrong, but I don't think I am. FYI, my regular go-to skillet is a 12 inch 18/10 stainless steel with a 1/4 inch bottom (copper is the middle layer).
And don't even get me started on the goofs who recommend getting a non-stick going on high heat. I certainly know better than that.
Am I doing something wrong? Or has most of the cooking world slowly decided that "screaming high heat" is suddenly a cool phrase and, therefore, requisite in way too many recipes?
I've seen its uses in certain cases (steak among them), but I'm thinking it's a tad overdone.