busyfood.net – This Splatter Screen Means a Quicker Cleanup and Crispier Food
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Much to my mother’s dismay, I turned into a clean cook only after I moved out of her house. My timing might not have been to her liking, but I did belatedly inherit her penchant for a spotless workplace. I wash dishes and put away ingredients as I go. I employ a trash bowl to keep scraps contained. And when I’m done with a meal, I like my whole kitchen lick-the-counter sparkling clean.
It should then come as no surprise that oil splatter from the high heat of the stovetop is the bane of my existence. It gets everywhere, from the nooks to the crannies, and is an absolute pain to wipe up. I lived with this problem for years, begrudgingly lifting up burner grates and scrubbing behind nearby appliances after frying eggs for breakfast and crisping the skin on chicken thighs for dinner. Turns out, the fix was a mere $15 away: a splatter screen.
At 13 inches in diameter, this handy tool is so beautifully simple. It rests on top of nearly any size pan—from my small nonstick to my big old cast iron—and once it’s in place, oil stays neatly within the confines of the pan.
You see, any cook worth their salt knows that you often need a decent amount of fat to end up with delicious, balanced food. But it’s not just that fat is tasty. It’s also the mechanism that carries heat for even cooking (this is one of the many great lessons Samin Nosrat imparts in Salt, Fat, Acid, Heat—and if you haven’t already read it, get on it). A big flame and a good slick of fat are the keys to charring green beans, searing a perfect steak, and stir-frying a pile of vegetables. But with that magic combo, you inevitably end up in splatter city.
A pot lid, of course, would work to contain the splashes and sloshes, but it would ruin your food by trapping steam inside the pan. Moisture is the enemy of crispiness, so even if you started with shimmering hot oil, you’d be left with soggy fritters, lackluster pan-fried potatoes, and rubbery short ribs. The splatter screen, on the other hand, has fine mesh holes big enough to allow steam to escape, but small enough that oil doesn’t stand a chance of going anywhere.
When all is said and done, the only mess is on the screen itself—and that can go straight into the dishwasher, an easy cleanup if I’ve ever seen one.