Illustration for article titled Fry Your Vegetables in a Dirty PanPhoto: Claire LowerEating trash with ClaireEating trash with ClaireThe series in which Claire Lower convinces you to turn your kitchen waste into something edible and tasty

Last Friday I roasted something delicious Chicken thighs. They were gone on Saturday afternoon. My friend and I picked the last two straight from their frying pan in the fridge and ate them barefoot in the kitchen with no plates or cutlery. A few hours later, I opened the fridge and found the pan we had left behind.

Illustration for article titled Fry Your Vegetables in a Dirty PanPhoto: Claire Lower

This was a dirty pan by anyone’s standards. It was the before-pan in a Cascade commercial: something that needed treating, scrubbing, and sanitizing. But when I looked at the pan I forgot in my rush to put cold chicken in my mouth, I saw nothing that needed cleaning. I saw potential.

When you fry a piece of meat, a certain amount is left behind. This stuff is usually made up of highly flavored fat, collagen, and some water, collectively known as “drops.” Drops taste very good, which is why some people use them to make sauces and gravies and others put a few vegetables under particularly dripping pieces of poultry. Wiping and washing the contents of this pan would have been a waste of fat and flavor, but separating the Schmaltz from the cold collagen and storing it for later would have been a pain in my bum.

Illustration for article titled Fry Your Vegetables in a Dirty Pan

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Instead of doing any of these things, I heated the pan to set the drops in motion, then tossed them away with some asparagus, and toasted the little stalks until they were just about tenderly crispy. It made for very good, perfectly flavored and dressed asparagus. The chicken drips left behind acted as both cooking fat and sauce, coating each stem with a rich, meaty, toasted flavor.

The same maneuver can be performed with any vegetable. Potatoes are an obvious choice, but the asparagus surprised me at how good it was. So don’t underestimate the tall green guys. (I bet a quartered onion would be good too.)

To cook roasted vegetables in a dirty pan you will need:

  • A frying pan with quite a few remains of drops
  • Enough of one or more cooked vegetables to fill the skillet (see this guide for details how to prepare them.)

Take the pan out of the fridge and look for burning bits and pieces like herbs, meat or vegetables that have already been cooked. Set your oven to 425 ° C and place the dirty skillet in it to keep it warm as the oven preheats. After about five minutes, stir the drops to see if they have melted. After that, remove the pan from the oven and toss the prepared vegetables into the drops. Put the pan back in the heated oven and roast the vegetables until they are tender and crispy around the edges (see this post for approximate times). Eat your vegetables and repeat with another part of the plant until you run out of drops from the pan, or wipe them up with some bread. (Drops are especially tasty when spread over toast.) Then – and only then – should you wash your frying pan.