How to Sear Meat
Searing is called for in many recipes as a way to enhance the flavour of meat before adding it to a stew, casserole or a crockpot. It is also a way to add a crust to a seasoned roast before putting it the oven to finish the cooking process. High heat caramelizes and browns the sugars in the meat protein producing drippings that, when the pan is deglazed, makes a flavourful pan gravy or sauce for the cooked meat.
Sear your roast at a high heat in the oven first. Once it crisps on the outside, reduce the heat and allow the roast to fully cook. The inside will be tender and juicy. Searing is also a great technique for cooking steak, pork chops and seafood. A seasoned one-inch steak needs just two minutes each side in a pan. You can then reduce the heat and continue cooking to rare, medium or well done. Seafood cooks quickly, with scallops requiring less than a minute per side. After your scallops are fully cooked, deglaze the pan with white wine, reducing the liquid and adding butter and cream to create a delicious sauce. Sear fish such as tuna for one minute per side in either butter or oil, and serve with a squirt of lemon.
To sear meat you need a stainless steel frying pan or cast iron wok or skillet, plus tongs or a spatula for turning the meat as it cooks. Since searing involves using high heat, a pan with good heat retention and even distribution is important. Turn the meat using tongs or a flipper rather than a fork; you don’t want to let the meat juices escape by piercing the meat during searing.
- Coat the bottom of the pan with a very thin layer of oil
- Season the meat before putting it in the pan
- Heat the pan to medium-high
- When the oil starts to smoke slightly, add your meat
- Lower the heat and add more oil if the glaze on the bottom gets too dry or if you smell burning
- Flip the meat when one side is fully seared
- Sear the other side, remove from heat and allow to sit for a few minutes
- Deglaze your pan by adding a cup of wine, broth or water. While the liquid bubbles, scrape the bottom of the pan to get off as much of the residue as possible. You can now add it to a stew or use it to baste a roast. If you want a gravy or meat sauce, just keep it bubbling to reduce further.
- Shake the pan after a few minutes and if the meat releases from the pan, it's ready to be flipped
- If you're cooking smaller pieces of meat to add to a stew or casserole, leave space between the pieces in the pan so the meat sears evenly
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