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Fat Guy

Low-smoke cooking tricks

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I was over at some friends' place last night for a Memorial Day cookout -- indoors. It made a heck of a lot of smoke when they cooked the burgers and such, and I imagine over time with repetition there will be a film of grease all over the place.

For those of us with crummy exhaust systems there are a lot of things that are hard to cook without making a mess: meats that require a hard sear, anything deep fried, etc.

I'd be interested to hear what you all do to get around these limitations. Please assume installing a better exhaust system is not a possibility.


Steven A. Shaw aka "Fat Guy"
Co-founder, Society for Culinary Arts & Letters, sshaw@egstaff.org
Proud signatory to the eG Ethics code
Director, New Media Studies, International Culinary Center (take my food-blogging course)

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I have the same problem. To cut down on some of the oil getting out, I use a splatter shield or cover the pan loosely with foil that has holes poked through - sort of like a splatter shield. But, if it is too tight, it will steam the other side.

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Not to be flip, but cook outside? Not just traditional grilling, but frying, blackening and stir frying on an outside propane cooker. I have been known to make ice cream and queso on my carport, just to avoid having to listen to the ice cream maker or blender. Some of the common camping stoves put out more heat than common kitchen stoves.

As for inside, I just avoid cooking in any way with much spattering or odor. ie, I don't fry inside. The Ducasse method of cooking a steak was a revelation not just because it is good, but because in can be done inside without much fuss or mess.

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Not to be flip, but cook outside?

I live in an apartment in New York City with no access to an outside area where I can cook.

The Ducasse method of cooking a steak was a revelation not just because it is good, but because in can be done inside without much fuss or mess.

I think there must be some sort of hybrid of the Ducasse method that uses the oven for part of the time. The oven is a good containment device for vaporized grease. Otherwise, while the Ducasse method is a huge improvement over the hard sear, it still creates a decent amount of spatter and fumes.


Steven A. Shaw aka "Fat Guy"
Co-founder, Society for Culinary Arts & Letters, sshaw@egstaff.org
Proud signatory to the eG Ethics code
Director, New Media Studies, International Culinary Center (take my food-blogging course)

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There is a way.

Use an electrostatic air cleaner nearby.

An electrostatic cleaner will trap over 95% of air borne (smoke) particles.

An electrostatic air cleaner with an activated charcoal filter can trap smell ( cigar) in the air as well.

dcarch

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I have two Honeywell HEPA filters -- not electrostatic -- and they do very little with vaporized grease that's traveling in the upward direction. I've pretty much retired them from kitchen use and use them elsewhere in my home now. I'd hate to shell out $500 for an electrostatic filter only to find out it doesn't do much better. Have you implemented this solution with good results or seen it done in this context?


Steven A. Shaw aka "Fat Guy"
Co-founder, Society for Culinary Arts & Letters, sshaw@egstaff.org
Proud signatory to the eG Ethics code
Director, New Media Studies, International Culinary Center (take my food-blogging course)

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a real spatter shield seems to work well for me, at least there's a lot of grease on it after i use it.

I have two dif. sizes, and use it on a pan with a little gap on one side so steam if any gets out that way.

assuming that grease would be elsewhere w/o it.

smoke I dont mind I roast my own coffee once a week.


Edited by rotuts (log)

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I do have a good exhaust system. It is a mini version or home version of what restaurants use by code but you still get grease splatters. I have spatter screens and they help but there are still grease spatters. I don't see any way to avoid it but you don't have to let it build up. I clean the stove top after every cook session and do an even more thorough cleaning, getting the walls, floor and counters every Sunday afternoon. It is not a lot of work if you keep up with it. It takes an extra 5 minutes a day and 20 minutes on Sunday.


Edited by Norm Matthews (log)

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I have two Honeywell HEPA filters -- not electrostatic -- and they do very little with vaporized grease that's traveling in the upward direction. I've pretty much retired them from kitchen use and use them elsewhere in my home now. I'd hate to shell out $500 for an electrostatic filter only to find out it doesn't do much better. Have you implemented this solution with good results or seen it done in this context?

All forms of filter impose restriction to air flow, all except electrostatic filters. It traps particle by electric charge.

The only consideration is capacity. You need to find one with good enough CFM volume.

BTW, once you have trapped lots of dust, grease, etc, you just take the filter out and put it in the dishwasher. Nothing new to buy.

dcarch

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The problem with electrostatic precipitators is that they are consistently rated very poorly in air purification tests


--

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The problem with electrostatic precipitators is that they are consistently rated very poorly in air purification tests

Possible. Depending on the manufacturer.

I don't have a brand in mind. I believe some restaurants use them and many hospitals use them.

dcarch

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So, assuming I'm not going to shell out for electrostatic air cleaners, I can't cook outside, and I'm not going to wipe down every surface of the kitchen all the time, does anybody have strategies I might not have thought of?


Steven A. Shaw aka "Fat Guy"
Co-founder, Society for Culinary Arts & Letters, sshaw@egstaff.org
Proud signatory to the eG Ethics code
Director, New Media Studies, International Culinary Center (take my food-blogging course)

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A bunch of 20x20 or 25x25 box fans with ultra-fine HEPA filters taped to their intakes.

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Again, spatter shields. For really intense spattering while searing and frying, I put 2 over the pan/pot. I rarely fried anything before using them. They do not give 100% containment, but it makes the situation tolerable for me.

As for smoke, I would think that your HEPA filter systems would work. Some years ago, a neighbor had an interior wood stove whose chimney vented about 15 feet from my daughter's bedroom, and 20 feet from our kitchen. 2 Honeywells sucked up enough of the copious smoke to make the situation bearable.

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I think only activated charcoal filters can filter out the smell of smoke.

I don't think any other filter can filter out the smell of smoke.

dcarch

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Try alternative cooking methods. I have a kitchen with a door that opens into my yard but no other exhaust system - I gave up on deep-frying almost immediately (the whole house smelled like yucca fries for a week - ick!) and switched to shallow-fat frying. For all but a few recipes, that's more than adequate and I'm using waaaay less oil. For hard searing, I have to admit I use the backyard and my little charcoal grill, so I'm no help there. If I absolutely must sear meats in the house, I set up my oscillating stand fan in the kitchen and direct it out the door.

FG, if you're in an apartment, do you have roof access? If you do, a little Hibachi grill is super-portable and easy to use up on the roof.... That's how I handled it when I lived in a 10th floor apartment in Quito.


Elizabeth Campbell, baking 10,000 feet up at 1° South latitude.

My eG Food Blog (2011)My eG Foodblog (2012)

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I cook outdoors, if you have a balcony or yard you don't need a lot of room.

My coleman white gas camping stove just wasn't big enough, small pans only. So I found a 2 burner propane cooktop on Harbour Freight for 39$. It's big enough for two good sized pans and works well, stainless steel so it looks good. Use my Lodge Logic hibachi (I highly recommend this little guy) for high heat grilling. Use my Big Steel Keg (funny how that rhymes with big green egg, heh heh) for baking and low'n'slow, but this is not a small unit, probably not for balconies. If you can fit a charcoal unit but the smoke is an issue with neighbors the coconut lump charcoal burns pretty clean.

I refuse to cook indoors with the AC going, and smokey greasy cooking is another good reason.

Last night I parboiled a bunch of brats, then boiled the mashed potatoes after that. Did a buffalo spatchcock chicken along with the brats on the BSK. Need to do the buffalo chicken because I ate my daughters left over buffalo wings in a late night fridge raid, she wasn't pleased. All this and not a BTU added in the house, except when I brought the food in hot on a platter.

Clean up with the garden hose (kidding, sorta).

Larry

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Blow torch for searing and finish in the oven? Not sure if it follows fire codes though. Its been awhile since I lived in NYC.

Mike

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Steak:

I have a cast iron pan with 1/2" ridges at the bottom. I get that on medium-high heat and sear both sides of the steak before cooking in the 450 degree oven. I really don't get much smoke at all.

When I used my flat cast iron skillet I would get large amounts of smoke in my apartment but ever since I switched to the ridged pan I've had minimal issues with smoke.

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...but ever since I switched to the ridged pan I've had minimal issues with smoke.

I'm not very familiar with CI. Can you clarify. Is the bottom of the pan, towards the burner, ridged? Or, is the cooking surface in the pan ridged? That is, anything in the pan would get grill marks from the ridges.

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I don't know if it's sold in America, but I Japan, you can buy aluminium shield which are about a foot tall and you can create a little shield or wall around your stove. At the bottom, there is magnet and the set up is pretty simple. It does catch a lot of fat and make cleaning a lot easier. They are pretty cheap, so when they are dirty, you can just recycle them.

Might be an option, at least for the grease flying sideway.


My blog about food in Japan

Foodie Topography

www.foodietopography.com

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I don't know if it's sold in America, but I Japan, you can buy aluminium shield which are about a foot tall and you can create a little shield or wall around your stove.

Hey, that's kind of cute! When cooking something messay, I've considered taping tin foil around the cooktop to form a tent - suspended from the microwave above with its lame fan. :biggrin:

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When I have to do a lot of messy frying, cooking, I cover my stove with silicone bake sheets.

Silicone bake sheets are not that expensive. You can cut them to fit your stove and burners. They can take very high temperature.

I just wash them in soapy water after they get greasy.

Works great.

dcarch

Stove.jpg

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can you open a window and put a fan in it? Maybe not a winter solution in NY, but should work at some times. Why can't you change/upgrade your exhaust fan? Even if it's not your apartment, maybe the owner would be fine if you promise to leave it if/when you move, and if you plan to stay for a while it might be worth it. Could you add one in the window?


"And don't forget music - music in the kitchen is an essential ingredient!"

- Thomas Keller

Diablo Kitchen, my food blog

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