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How to Sear Meat

October 26, 2009

PhotobucketProperly searing a piece of meat is one of the most important lessons I ever learned and I remember it seeming a bit daunting the first time I did it, but it is incredibly easy. These guidelines are universal for beef, pork, lamb and game. It is important to use a hot pan to get a nice caramel color on your meat. If you are going to finish the meat in the oven, don’t forget to preheat the oven.

Place your pan over medium/high heat and let it get hot. Pat dry your piece of meat with a paper towel to prevent splattering. patting it dry also helps it to turn that dark color. When the pan is hot, add a drizzle of oil to the pan. When the oil runs quickly in the pan it is ready. Add a light dusting of salt to your dry meat and toss it in the hot pan. It is important that you let the meat sit in the hot pan without moving. This is how you brown the meat.
There is a good chance that your meat will give of smoke while you are browning it. If your kitchen is well ventilated this should not be a problem. If, like me, you live in a small apartment it means you will have to turn down the heat on your pan and you will probably set off your smoke smoke alarm every couple of weeks. Don’t worry, it’s all part of the game. Wait until you see a little dark brown color on the edges against the pan before turning the meat over. Use a pair of tongs, or a fork to turn your meat once it is nicely browned and sear it for a minute or two on the other side. When the meat is caramel colored on the outside, your sear is done. Finish the meat in your hot oven, or however your recipes calls for it to finish.

NOTES:

–  If you are going to finish the meat in the oven, make sure your pan is safe to put in the oven. Avoid pans with plastic handles.
– Do not use olive oil for high heat cooking. You are better off using a neutral oil like canola or safflower oil. Olive oil will scorch more quickly than vegetable oils. There is some debate about this and I know chefs that do sear in olive oil, so if you have it and want to use it, it will not ruin your meat, but I don’t recommend it.

Pat dry
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Salt
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Add to HOT pan
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Let cook at least 1 minute before turning
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Check for browning
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Turn
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At this point your meat is seared. finish with your recipe, or simply finish in the oven.
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Check doneness
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Let meat rest
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Slice
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Serve
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