If a recipe says to brown the meat…

Posted on 20 March 2009 by ChefBud

Browning meat and the Mallard Reaction

Browning meat and the Malliard Reaction

If a recipe says to brown the meat, the author expects that you are going to do just that.  Get the piece of meat nice and browned on all sides.  You are probably thinking to yourself that you are sealing in all of the juices.  Well, you’re not, says Harold McGee, of On Food and Cooking (Simon & Schuster, 1984).  What you are doing is forming a nice crust around the outside and causing a chemical transformation called the “Maillard Reaction“.  Caramelization happens too.  In the process, hundreds of different flavor compounds are created.  These compounds in turn break down to form yet more flavor compounds, and so on.

So, how should we brown said meat?

First start by drying meat properly with a paper towel.  You need to heat the pan until hot, then add the oil and heat until shimmering.  You will know shimmering when you see it.  If the oil starts to smoke, it’s too hot.  Add meat to hot oil.  Do not crowd the pan; you should be able to see the bottom of the pan between each piece.  If the pieces of meat are too close together, the meat will steam instead of browning.  For large recipes, cook the meat in batches.  Browning gives the meat a nice dark crust that adds nice rich flavor.

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2 Comments For This Post

  1. wrenchwear Says:

    what would be the difference in adding the oil while the pan heats up vs. adding the oil to a already hot pan?

  2. ChefBud Says:

    I have found (maybe someone told me a long time ago) that heating the pan up dry tightens the metal and helps the oil float on top resulting in less sticking.

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