Refers to the process of heating food, usually meat, at very high heat to seal in the natural juices.
Searing meat is a must for most dishes. The process of searing the meat to seal in the juices ensures that the meat remains juicy throughout the cooking process, and reduces the likelihood of dry meat. Searing is done over very high dry heat, and actually carmelizes the surface of the meat, creating a nice brown surface. Because it takes such high temperatures to sear meat, searing is usually recommended before the actual cooking process. For instance, when making beef stew, the stew cooks at lower temperatures and so the meat will not sear quickly to seal in the juices. Searing the meat before starting the stew ensures that beef will not end up dry and tasteless. Searing is often referred to as browning or sauteing, as all these method basically do the same thing.
- The type of pan that I have found to be most useful for searing is a saute pan. The high sides cut down on the amount of splattering from the meat, and the flat bottom allows meat to lay flat. If a saute pan is not handy, you can also use a fry pan. However, make sure that it is large enough to allow the meat to lay flat.
- Add just a little oil to the pan to prevent sticking, then make sure the pan heats up and is nice and hot before putting the meat in. The meat should sizzle when it hits the pan. Allow it to sit for about 1/2 minute, then flip it. The surface of the meat should be nice and brown. (if it is not, it needs more time!)
- The second side never takes as long as the first, so keep an eye on it and remove it from the heat before it starts to cook all the way through!
- Make sure the meat is at room temperature before searing. As with browning and sauteing, if the meat is cold, it will form steam. Steam, in this case, is bad and will prevent the food from searing!
- Also, as with browning and sauteing, do not overcrowd the pan. This will cause steam to form as well. Again, bad!
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