To Sear or not to Sear: That is the question:

By : | 1 Comment | On : November 8, 2011 | Category : Blog

To Sear or not to Sear: That is the question:

Whether ’tis nobler in the mind to suffer the flavorless meal while saving time, Or to take arms against a sea of troubles, and dirty thy kitchen and raise thy glass to color and flavor.

Honestly I think it’s personal preference.

I like to put a roast into the crock pot without searing it first, just like the next guy. Especially when I’m pressed for time and I’m not too crucial with the dish. Pulled pork sandwiches are a good example.

The main reason to sear the meat before cooking is to caramelize the sugars in the meat, this helps develop a richer, more complex flavor. I find that in some dishes, searing beef in particular, will improve the flavor.

The meat should be at room temperature before searing and patted dry. The pan should be very hot and the goal is to keep the meat raw with just a browned surface. “A quick searing”.

If you leave the meat in the pan too long or sear too much meat at a time, it will start to steam and you lose the benefits of searing. You’re trying to achieve what’s called the “Maillard Reaction”. Here’s the science part from wikipedia:

High temperature, intermediate moisture levels, and alkaline conditions all promote the Maillard reaction. In cooking, low moisture levels are necessary mainly because water boils into steam at 212 °F (Crock Pot),  whereas the Maillard reaction happens noticeably around 310 °F (Very hot skillet): significant browning of food does not occur until all “surface” water is vaporized.

This means you add it to a really hot pan and let it sizzle.

Flouring the meat will not promote browning the meat per se. If you flour the meat before searing, you will be browning the flour and that’s fine. I do this alot. This does help to thicken the sauce and juices and gives color. But remember, flour has no flavor. Have you tasted it?

Searing is not necessary. But, If you want a nice, dark color to your meat, sear it first. You won’t get this by simply tossing raw meat in the crock pot. Some folks can taste the difference, others will say you’re crazy. I’m a snob. I’ll sear it. If I’m not too lazy that day.

When this is all said and done, you can then “deglaze” the pan you just used. Do this while the pan is still very hot.

  1. Add some broth or liquid you are cooking with(beer, wine, broth) to the same pan.
  2. Stir up the bits that were left behind.
  3. This should be boiling a bit and it helps to clean the pan.
  4. Use a spoon or spatchula to scrape it up, you are trying to get all of the flavor up and out.

You are looking for deep brown bits, not blackened bits, remove the really burnt parts. Once it’s all up and separated from the pan and mixed well, you have deglazed the pan. Pour this into the crock pot for great flavor.

Do you Sear or Brown your Roasts?  Do you deglaze the pan for added flavor? Leave your thoughts and ideas on browning your roast.

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Comment (1)

  1. posted by Lori Lucas on Nov 8, 2011

    I’m with you on this one. If I am looking for a deeper flavor and have time I’ll sear it and deglaze. I have found that Searing a pork roast gives it a fuller flavor.