Wednesday June 20, 2012 | 11:48 AM
I sometimes develop "crud in the pan."

fond_570.jpg

Maybe I'm pan-frying some chicken or scallops or toasting up some arborio rice and tomatoes (en route to a splendid risotto), but inevitably, the crud appears. Like some stove-top phantom, it finds its way into the pan. It adheres like golden-brown quick-dry cement, sometimes in spots, sometimes covering the whole pan.

fond_scallops.jpg

With my keen Columbo skills, I instinctively deduce that my dish is on a fast-track train ride to Charred Town. I turn down the heat, or I take the food out of the pan to get it away from that stuff. Later, I'll puzzle over my tragically under-cooked piece of chicken or scallop or risotto and resolve to write a harsh letter to the recipe-writer, who clearly got it wrong.

Except the recipe-writer didn't get it wrong. I did.

That "crud" is called fond. And it is good.

"Fond is French for 'base' and commonly refers to the browned bits and caramelized drippings of meat and vegetables that are stuck to the bottom of a pan after saut´e;ing or roasting." - www.yumsugar.com

During the risotto demo I attended at LeRoux Kitchen a few months back, instructor Chef Burnham introduced us to fond. It's flavorful stuff, he said. And rather than sprinting from the kitchen at the sight of it, you want to use it. Exploit it. Take advantage.

Fond is removed from the pan by a process called deglazing (which is weird, since I thought I was more fond of glazing things...donuts, ham, carrots).

fond_risotto_570.jpg

White wine, water, broth or another liquid is poured onto the hot pan, allowing for the fond to be scraped off easily with a spoon, spatula or other fine utensil. With the risotto, we used white wine (pour some, sip some, right?) and stirred the fond in with the rice.

At the Citrus Explosion demo at Stonewall Kitchen, instructor Heather Milliman used the fond left over from searing scallops, along with a pour of wine, to make a sauce.

stonewall_fond_570 - Copy.jpg

Milliman is "fond of fond," she said. Because she's not too proud to go there. And I have a new appreciation for what once was crud. Sorry I misjudged you, fond.

About the Author

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Shannon Bryan is a feature writer for the Portland Press Herald and content producer for MaineToday Media's entertainment website, www.mainetoday.com.

And here's a well-known truth: Shannon can't cook. She's also ostroconophobic (in Maine?!?), but in a foodie place like southern Maine, she's determined to learn how to cook, eat, and order with the best of them. Read about her culinary crusade:
Pans on fire

She's also an investigator into all that's strange and entertaining to do around here. Those findings are gathered here:
Out Going: Things to do in southern Maine

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