Browing stuff in a cast iron pot - How?

Yes, put it on the burner, turn it on, oil, chicken, I got that. I also got one of those fancy enameled Le Cruset pots. :smiley:

But what I find is that the chicken kinda cooks, it doesn’t brown, not like it does in my non-stick frying pan.

Now, I wouldn’t mind frying the chicken in my frying pan and then putting it in the pot, but you don’t get fond from frying in a non-stick.
Now, about the fond - second problem, the fond BURNS. Like, carbon. So I fry my chicken, I fry my potatoes and carrots and onions in the chicken fat, and by the time I’m done, the fond is black.

It still tastes ok after deglazing (doesn’t taste burnt or anything) but I’m wondering if my stew was as tasty as it could have been.
Any ideas?

Cast iron takes a good while to heat up. It sounds like the pan is too cool to start and too hot at the end. Give the pan longer to heat up, on a lower heat.

Two words: Heat Control

Always allow the pan to heat fully, but don’t brown using the highest burner setting. You can sear on high heat, but that’s quite different from browning. Searing is intended to produce a very thin layer of char; that requires a short time on a very hot surface. Browning is intended to produce a layer of colorful cooked meat or caramelized vegetable; this requires a medium to medium high burner setting which should allow that buildup of tasty brown bits and also give you nice color on the principles.

Try for a heat level that gives you a shimmer or ripple on the fat without making it pop and sizzle. (If the meat whistles and hisses when you drop it, your pan may be too hot.)

You want to start with a dry, clean pan at room temperature. Let it heat over a burner set to about medium heat. When the pan is hot enough, a few drop of water will dance across the pan. If they just boil in place, it is not hot enough. If the water drops vaporize before they dance or the pan starts to turn red, then it is too hot.

Once it is hot enough add some butter, grease or oil whichever you prefer**. For browning things, you want a small amount, not enough to cover the whole bottom of the pan, typically a couple table spoons. Then spread the grease around, and add the item to be browned. Here is the part where you are liable to fail*: DON’T move it. Just let it fry there for a bit unmolested. When you do that you get a malliard reaction which is where the yummy comes from. If you move it around, you get warmed food, but no yummy. Peeking to see if it browned may move it too much, so try not to peek.

Next, when that side is browned (determine the browning level psychically because as I said peeking prevents malliardization) turn it over and allow the other side to brown. For extra point of yum, get tongs and support the item while browning the edges after browning the sides.

*I used to fail there. I like to move things around in the skillet. It seems wrong just to let them sit there. But, you move them and you will just turn it grey, not brown, and I am not fond of grey food, usually.

**Butter burns slightly and things will brown quicker, but it can burn too much if you are not careful and taste bad. It is also partially water, so for each tablespoon, you get less fat, so you may want to add a bit extra. Margarine is not for browning, especially new types with stuff other than fat and water.

This. Your non-stick pan might be fully heated 30 seconds after you turn on the burner. A cast iron pan will take several minutes to heat up.

It will also take much, much longer to cool down. With another pan, once you remove it from the heat it will start cooling off almost immediately. A cast iron pan will remain rocket hot more than long enough to ruin a delicate sauce.

Thirded. Add ‘wait a couple minutes’ to your list, between ‘turn it on’ and ‘add oil then chicken’. (And of course, turn off the burner before things are completely done. )

Another one for “let the pan heat up longer”, and using tongs.
Another thing I usually do is oil the meat, not the pan - I have a pastry brush that I use to coat e.g. chicken breasts with oil just before they go in the pan.

Yep, what everyone else said: lower heat, longer pre-heat time. Should take care of both problems - the meat not browning, and the fond burning. (Actually, typed out like that: it’s pretty obvious that the problem is not enough heat at the beginning and too much heat at the end.)

It’s also possible that your meat isn’t browning because it’s too crowded. This used to be my biggest problem: trying to fit in too much meat at once, and then it all steams instead of browning. Cook in two or even three batches.

Yep, the meat should have breathing room away from the sides of the pan and from other pieces of meat to brown properly. I took advice from Alton Brown years ago, and have a more recent book that confirms - to get a proper sear/browning, the meat must remain untouched in the pan for at least 2 minutes, and sometimes 3. You DO want to get a good sear, because from that the yummy brown comes. If you have to tug on the meat to get it off the bottom of the pan, it’s not ready. It will release on its own when it’s seared properly. Once both sides are seared, the heat can be reduced a little but not much to avoid smoking, and the brown will ensue. The meat can be flipped a couple more times if you intend to complete the cooking in the pan, but each time it’s turned it must remain for at least a minute.

There is certainly room to wiggle on whatever advise you get. Every stove has its own level of hot, and every cook must learn their stove/cookware combination ideals.

This bit kinda jumped out at me. Really? Maybe that is my problem then, I kinda scrape it around and it kinda sticks/shreds.

Yep, it usually lets go by itself when it’s properly seared.

Unless the meat is very low fat, sometimes.

Are people here using “fond” to mean sucs? Because to me, *fond *is what you get when you add liquid to sucs, not the *sucs *themselves.

I had to google “sucs” because it’s not a term I’ve ever heard.

From wikipedia:

I have always heard and used “fond” to mean the browned bits themselves, and not bits + liquid.

I’ve mentioned sucs twice in different threads.

And no recognition for it? Sucs to be you, I guess.

I find browing only works on potatoes. A specific type of potato, to be exact: a gent named Mister Potato Head.

Bet you’re in the US. Land of “with au jus