Saturday, February 13, 2010

Everyday Mishaps: Scorched Pot Day

I had hoped to finish posting my canning recipe for this month.  Instead, I managed to scorch a double recipe of clementine marmalade.  Curses!  Worse, this is the third giant pot of something I've scorched today.  First, two batches of oatmeal this morning and now the marmalade.  

SO without further adieu, I give you:  How to Save Your Great Pot That You Just Ruined For Forever AND Ever.  Amen.  

1 irrevocably scorched pot
1 sturdy metal spoon
1 pair of rubber gloves
high quality dish washing liquid soap
souring pads

Optional Equipment:
small paint scraper with a razor
Bar Keeper's Friend (BKF) or salt or baking soda

Phase 1:  Put out that fire!
You've scorched your dinner.  You know this because of the smoke and the acrid aroma emanating from your beloved stove (or your hated taskmaster depending on your skill set).  You have a few choices:  

  1. Is the sink empty?  Thanks for Flying.  It has paid off!  Place your burning, smoking mess in your shiny-shiny sink and run cold water around the outside of the pan.  Wait until the smoking and sizzling has begun to subside before you run water inside that mess.
  2. Your sink is full?  You must live at my house!  Quickly! grab a rimmed cookie sheet, large skillet (not your good nonstick pan, please), or roasting pan.  With the sprayer from the faucet add enough water to cover the bottom of the pan.  Carefully set that hot, steaming mess of a pot on the sheet.  Add what water room will allow and, when cooled slightly, to the pot as well.
  3. No room?  Need to improvise?  Is Mother Nature cooperating?  It doesn't matter, but it can't hurt.  Set it outdoors.  If it is raining, all the better.  Get the hose out if you want.  In my case, our recent snow storm provided me with the perfect opportunity to just set the pot in a low snowbank and forget about it for a while.  As long as it is not grease or meat, dump the contents in the garden or the compost pile.  The worms will thank you.

Phase 2: Muck it out.

Scrape out as much of the now ruined dinner that you slaved over right up until 10 minutes ago.  Don't spend too much time fussing over this.  The sooner it is out of sight you'll feel better (or at least you won't feel like a total jerk for Facebooking while Dinner Burned . . .   sure, sure, solving world hunger were we?).  

Phase 2a:  Stop the madness.
If it was dinner, put this aside and get started on Dinner Numero Dos and come back to this.  IF your house is anything like mine, the natives are already restless.  Make some eggs.  Call it brinner and get on with it.

Phase 2b:  Soak it.
Soak that pot for at least 10 minutes in super-hot soapy water or cold water overnight.  

Phase 3:  The Elbow Grease.

I would like to say here that sprinkling a little this and a little that will magically release from the folly that currently besets you, but realistically that isn't happening.  That said, this isn't a horrible process.   Dump out the water, take your spoon and scrape off as much blackened detritus as will easily release.  Put some vinegar in the bottom of the pot enough to cover the bottom.  Put it on the stove on high heat.  Bring it to a boil.  Turn the heat to medium.  Don't leave or forget what your doing here.  Just pull up a chair, because this is the task at hand.  (Got it?) 

After a few minutes, start loosening and scraping the bottom of the pot with your metal spoon.  It should really start coming up now. After a few more minutes, go ahead and remove the pot from the heat, pour out the vinegar, and keep scraping.  It will come off.  

Phase 4: Gleaming the Pan (Pot or what-have-you)
In the final stage, you've scraped and cussed 99% of that ruined meal, candy, sauce, oatmeal, clementine marmalade out of the pan.  Take the steel wool scouring pad and get out the last of those little specks.  Yes, it makes a difference.  You don't want littles bit of burned whatnot in your marshmallows* or your pate a choux* or heaven forbid, your caramel*  . . .  well, do you?  No!  Of course not!  Scrubba-scrubba-scrubba.  Sometimes a little salt, baking soda, or BKF can make this part of the task go a little quicker.  This will probably scratch your stainless steel pot or pan a little bit.  Realistically the choice was between never using it again or having a serviceable pot again, take you pick.  You can use a product like Scratch-Be-Gone to restore the bottom of your pan, but I don't.  Wash, wash, wash that crud outta your pan!  Dry it off and put it away.  Now it is, but a bad memory.  Ta-daaa! 

* why, yes!  I am planning some recipe tutorials.  why do you ask?

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