I'm browning sirloin, and the fond in the bottom of the pan has burnt parts. Can I use it? Or will the final dish taste of burnt meat? Help!

Andrea Young


Andrea Y. January 6, 2016
I thought I would come back and update this with the final results. I did, in fact, already know that the browned bits on the bottom of the pan were key to the flavor. Thank you for making sure, though. My "browned bits" had unfortunately turned into "black bits" (I was searing cubes of beef in a very hot pan) and I was concerned the fond was unusable. I decided to go ahead and deglaze and use the potentially burned parts, and once mixed in with the rest of the ingredients and liquids, there was no discernible burnt taste. SO - if someone else comes along with this same mid-cooking question, I can testify that it did not ruin my dish!
Susan W. January 6, 2016
It's awesome of you to come back and update us. I had the same experience when making ghee. I like pushing it to the edge of burnt to get a really good browned butter flavor. I went too far and it was definitely black bits and not dark brown at the bottom of the pot. I strain it through cheese cloth, but some always gets through. I was not about to toss a pound of butter from grass fed cows, so I carried on. I could taste it a little bit, but it was fine and I used every drop.
Emily R. December 13, 2020
I'm posting here almost five years later, no idea if you will see this, but thank you for posting this update. I just had the exact same thing happen to me and was unsure if I should proceed with my black bits. Fingers crossed mine works out as well as yours!!
Andrea Y. December 14, 2020
Emily! Love that you found my comment useful 5 years later. I hope your dish turned out great!
cookbookchick December 12, 2015
You could try scraping up and discarding the burnt parts, then proceed with the rest. Might still be okay. If not, you'll know when you taste. .
Kristen W. December 12, 2015
Agree with Susan W. If it is burnt you can't mask it but it's worth tasting to be sure. Your palate will tell you.
Susan W. December 11, 2015
It's hard to tell the difference between dark brown and black in some pans. Like cv said..taste it. I would just take a spoon and have a little taste. If it's bitter, toss it. If you can, save what isn't burnt. That is sometimes possible.
702551 December 11, 2015
The only way to know is to taste it.

Just add some water to dilute it, cook it down a bit and taste. If you don't like it, toss.
702551 December 11, 2015
If it has a burnt taste, you are not going to mask it. The burnt taste comes from the food particles becoming carbonized. All the flavor elements have been charred, like an overcooked sausage on a grill or a black piece of toast. That flavor is beyond salvage.

Again, a lot of this is your personal taste. Ultimately, whatever anyone writes here is less relevant than your own personal preferences. If you don't like rare steak, nothing anyone posts here is going to change that.

It's your call. After all it's you who is going to eat it.

Good luck.
702551 December 11, 2015
Yes, this is what makes a good sauce, "jus", or gravy. Generally speaking, you deglaze the bottom of the pan with some liquid, often a little wine then stock. Add aromatics if you like. Cook down until the sauce reaches the preferred consistency. Thicken or emulsify with other ingredients if desired.

This is a centuries-old practice in Western cuisine for dealing with pan drippings from cooking meat.

Just do a Google search for "steak pan sauce." You'd have to saw down all the trees in the Amazon to provide paper to print them all out.

Here's one example of the procedure, courtesy of the folks at Serious Eats:


Good luck.
Andrea Y. December 11, 2015
My concern is the browned bits are TOO brown - black, even - beyond what would normally be scraped up. I scraped a bit off and tasted it and it definitely has a "burnt" taste - is it still usable? Or did I brown my meat at too high a temperature?
702551 December 11, 2015
Lest I forget, you should be able to use the same search parameters and YouTube and find thousands and thousands of videos showing the technique, probably some of those of from cooking shows that aired decades ago.
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