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Confessions of a Culinary Student: Quick Pan-Cleaning Trick

Curious about cooking? High-pressure culinary school requires a lot of time and money. We asked present and former culinary students for their No. 1 “ah-ha!” moment or takeaway from class so you can benefit from what they learned — without enrolling.

Culinary Student: Jenny Bierman, Culinary Producer, Food Network Kitchens
School: Institute of Culinary Education, 2009

Confession: Scraping pans with burned food was such a pain — until I realized if I just added water to the bottom of the pan while it was still hot on the stove, I could then use a spatula or a paper towel and tongs to clean it immediately. It makes cleaning quick and easy, and it is just like deglazing your pan for a sauce!

For more on the high-pressure ups and downs of culinary school, tune in to The Freshman Class every Monday at 10:30pm ET.

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More Confessions of a Culinary Student


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  14. nils posted 04/25/2014

    Brilliant! Just brilliant!.. Who would have ever thought of adding…water, to a dirty pan?..Now I know what I've been doing wrong all of these years.."Just like de-glazing your pan for sauce!"….Culinary school.. Money well spent.. Next tip!.."And when you put the tray into the freezer, you will eventually get…ICE CUBES!…It's just like braising your meat!"

  15. Dorothy posted 04/25/2014

    I have been using this method for cleaning dirty pans for years. It's a great way to clean even the
    dirtiest pans.

    • Wally posted 04/28/2014

      You can do my cooking, Dorothy. The rest of these comments show their author's lack of knowledge of kitchen skills. They miss the point of the cool water's effect on the surface of the still very hot metal that causes it to change it's tension and sever the bond with the crusty char. At least in their own minds they're not lacking skill.

  16. Karen posted 04/26/2014

    Lovely idea… I just adore the thought of having greasy, hot steam coat my walls, cabinets, ceiling and windows. If you are scorching your food, turn down the heat or try a light coating of cooking oil in your pan. For really sticky messes, put the pan in the fridge overnight.

  17. rod posted 04/28/2014

    Wow — so glad I followed this link to learn that hot water helps clean a pan- – here's another tip – last week I was cooking late and it was getting too dark to see so my wife pushed a button on the wall and then instantaneously it was almost like daytime right in the middle of my kitchen – It was awesome

  18. Ron posted 04/28/2014

    If you do not have a garbage disposal, just flush the mess you just made by "deglazing" and flush it instead of filling your sink strainer with the mess.

  19. john posted 04/28/2014

    great thing to clean the bbq, shut the burners off and use water with a brush, cleans it right up. They make a brush with water in it.

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    Use some Bar Keeper's Friend on those pans.

  23. Dan posted 05/14/2014

    Boy I'm glad that I got to read all of these comments of the people who took the time to put down the author and show how smart they are. It feels good to be associated with greatness like the negative people on this post. Don't let me keep you. I know you have other comments to leave on other posts that show how wonderful you are. Well done people. Well done.

  24. teresa posted 05/15/2014

    negative people r everywhere

  25. Chef David posted 08/13/2014

    Deglazing pans whether for sauce or cleaning was just remarkable when I first learned about it. If you weren't aware of this technique then it most assuredly was a ah-ha moment. Chef David

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