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searing questions (a lot of them)

post #1 of 4
Thread Starter 
There's nothing I like better than a nice golden crust on my meat. The problem is, I'm not particularly good at it. Hopefully, somebody on this board can help straigten me out.

I know that to get a good sear, one needs to have a hot pan. Unfortunately, the hotter the pan, the more I splatter oil. I've read that thoroughly drying the meat's surface will help prevent splattering, and in my experience, it does, but not enough to prevent oil from getting all over the stove. Even the use of a splatter guard seems to not help. Also, if I really dry my meat well, liquid pushes up to the top surface of the meat when I sear the bottom. So when I sear side number two, there's a lot of liquid (and thus, splattering). Can splattering be avoided? Or am I destined to clean my stovetop every time I sear meat?

I've read argumunts on both sides of this. To me, it makes more sense to oil the pan, as that would allow the oil to be hot PRIOR to adding the meat. But, most steak recipes call for oiling the meat instead of the pan. I can only assume that the reason for this is to let the pan get so ripping hot, that it would far exceed the smoke point of any oil.

Even if I oil the pan (or meat) well, and have the pan nice and hot, my meat sometimes sticks. I recently discovered that moving the meat just a little after putting it in the pan helps prevent sticking. Is there anything else I should be doing?

Certain spices, like pepper, burn easitly. Yet, we've all seen a recipe that says "season well with salt and pepper, then sear). Well, how can I sear the meat at I high temp, while at the same time avoid burning the pepper? Also, many times I have to sear two or more "batches" of meat. I can normally finish the first batch without any burning, and I'm left with some very nice brown bits in the bottom of my pan (which will later be deglazed into a beautiful pan sauce). But, during the second or third batch of searing, the golden brown bits turn into more of a dark brown/black. And that just doesn't taste very good (nor does it unstick easily during deglazing). Any suggestions?

1) What's the purpose of letting the meat come to room temp before searing? Is it so the inside of the meat gets done without burning the outside? Is it so that the meat doesn't lower the temp of the pan?
2) Does seasoning the meat a good ten to 15 minutes before searing allow it to brown better? I've read that salt on the surface of the meat will pull certain enzymes to the surface of the meat, and these enzymes aid in the maillard reaction. Of course, they also draw liquid to the surface of the meat (see splattering discussion).

Thanks in advance for any advice you can offer.
post #2 of 4
Thread Starter 
Oops! It turns out this is the second time I posted this thread. I got an error message when I posted "searing 101" so I assumed it didn't make it to the forum. Just ignore this thread and use the other one. Sorry for the confusion.
post #3 of 4
I am able to share my experience with regards to a couple of your questions.

Problem 1) Splattering.
If I am cooking small batches of food, sometimes I use a saucepan instead of a frying pan as a saucepan has a higher "wall". I also use some thick paper to cover the saucepan, leaving a gap for the vapour to come out. (The thick paper I use are usually the Safeway or Albertson's or RiteAid flyers that come in my mailbox. I use the internal pages to cover my saucepan.) An alternative is to secure some kitchen towel paper to your splatter guard. In this way, the splattering oil gets absorbed by the kitchen towel.

Problem 3) Sticking
Are you using a non-stick pan? You really shouldn't be moving the meat after you put it into the pan (unless of course when you turn it), because you want the meat to caramelize - to get the brown bits forming.

Hope this helps.
post #4 of 4
Sorry, I posted my reply here by mistake.
Please pardon a newbie to this forum :o
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