Dear Home-Ec 101,
The other night I splurged and made rack of lamb for my husband and sons. It was the first time, because I really don’t like it, and probably the last, because the clean up was such a hassle. Even though I sprayed my roasting rack and pan with Pam, it still took a large SOS pad, an overnight soaking, and a lot of elbow grease to get it clean.
Every time I use that pan I think there must be an easier way.
How do you do it?
Embroiled in Emberton
I hate messy clean up, too.
Baking sprays are pretty much only useful for preventing food from sticking to a surface where the food is in contact with the pan. If the baking spray is exposed to the heat of the oven, it can polymerize. This just means the fatty chains turn into a polymer -basically plastic. (Yes, this is me playing fast and loose with terms, we’re just going for the basic idea.) This coating is quite difficult to remove without the additional joy of burnt on food.
Here’s an article I wrote previously: How to Remove Baking Spray Overspray.
You’re going to get the same advice for the burnt on food. Grab our good friend Bar Keepers Friend, it’s my favorite non-abrasive scouring powder. The active ingredient is oxalic acid; it is very effective and safe for food contact surfaces. Get the broiler pan wet and then sprinkle liberally with Bar Keepers Friend. Find something to do for a few minutes, you want to give the cleaner some time to work. Come back and scrub gently. Finally rinse. If the burnt on crud is especially thick, you will probably have to repeat the process a couple of times, but it shouldn’t take much elbow grease at all.
Some people, including LG (which manufactures ovens) recommend using oven cleaner to clean broiler pans and grates. That’s up to you. I’m not a huge fan of this idea as it’s messy and there are fumes, making the whole process a pain in the rear. Throw in making sure the kids are occupied elsewhere and I’m just not that invested in having a shiny broil pan.
If you get the majority of the burnt on food off of the broiler pan, but there are still stains, please don’t stress out about this. When broiling food, you’re not going to use the pan juices, there’s nothing to worry about. And really, if your friends judge you based on the state of your broiler pan and rack, you need new friends.
In the future you can add a small amount of water to the bottom of the broil pan to catch the fat rather than having it land on the empty pan and scorch. Just make sure you don’t put enough water in the pan to touch the grill.
Submit your questions to email@example.com.