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Meat Searing 101

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Perfectly seared meat

There are a number of techniques used by both professional chefs and dedicated kitchen enthusiasts that enhance the flavors of food.

The key to making these methods a part of your own cooking routine is to understand that you don’t need a special degree or a mild form of gastronomic monomania to use them. Searing meat is one such approach that, for many of us, is a bit of a mystery.

By the time you’ve finished reading this, you won’t just know why it’s done. You’ll know how to do it for yourself, and you’ll be well on your way to creating delicious dishes in your own home.

How to Sear Meat to Perfection

Fine Point or Basic Understanding?

Why sear? Isn’t that just burning the food? Yes and no.

It does involve high heat, but it’s not charring your meat. The function of searing is to provide flavor. The biggest reason to sear is all about flavor.

It just makes it taste really good and imparts extra deliciousness to stews, roasts, or even chops. It also prepares the basis for pan sauce, which is delicious and can be made with a little liquid during the deglazing of the searing pan.

Meat searing on nonstick pan

How to Do It Yourself

The first thing you need is a good pan that is big enough to accommodate your chosen cut of meat. The best cookware for searing will be either cast iron or 18/10 stainless steel.

Why? Because both materials provide consistent, even heat to the surface of your cut of meat.

While you can sear meat in any pan, technically, some more cheaply manufactured alloys actually create hot spots or cool spots that can impact the searing process.

This can lead to sticking, which is a mess and makes your roast or chops look bad. So, read cookware reviews that are offered by consumers to get a better idea of which pans will be the best investment.

Picture of perfectly seared beef

Nitty Gritty

Use a little vegetable oil or canola oil-which has a high smoke-point-to coat the bottom of your pan evenly.

Allow this to heat until the oil takes on a slightly wrinkled look. That means it’s super-hot.

While you wait, pat your cut of meat dry with paper towels. Removing excess moisture means you won’t be steaming the meat, it will s ear more evenly and quickly.

Once the oil is hot, place the meat in the pan. If you’re doing multiple pieces-like stew meat or individual cuts-don’t crowd the pan.

Each piece of meat needs its own personal heat bubble. Once you’ve placed a cut of meat, leave it alone for a few minutes.

Don’t lift it to check and see how it’s going. When the sear is complete, the meat will let go on its own. Otherwise, it will stick to the pan.

So after a few minutes, give the pan a shimmy. If the meat moves, then it’s ready to be turned. If not, let it be a moment more.

Once you’ve seared all the sides of your meat, you’re ready to move on to the next step in your cooking process-baking, braising, or stewing.

You are now in-the-know about searing, and you can bring your skills to bear at the next meal shared with friends and family.

Just remember, the best cookware for this and many other tasks will allow for even distribution and consistent delivery of heat to your food. So, before you sear, take time to read through cookware reviews and find a pan that’s perfect for your needs.

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