Beef has a depth of flavour that is hard to beat - but it can also very easily be a bland part of a bland dish if not cooked properly!
If you only learn to do one thing in the kitchen to improve your beef experience, searing should be that thing.
Searing is a wonderful process. Done well (and with good quality meat) it takes an underlying beefy flavour and turns it up to 11. It creates that delicious taste and almost crispy texture that just sets your mouth-a-watering.
What does searing do? Well first, it does not ‘seal in the juices’ – that is largely a myth. It is not about burning the edges to make a crispy steak. It’s not even about cooking the meat per se, although if you are having a rare to medium rare steak it may be the only cooking you do.
What it does do is caramelize the surface of the meat, developing savory and nutty flavours that were crying to be released.
The key word is caramelize. It’s a chemical reaction involving the natural sugars & proteins of the meat, and the heat of the pan or grill. It doesn’t just cook the outside brown – it fundamentally changes the beef.
If you can’t tell yet, we’re passionate about searing beef.
So now that you know the why, here are some tips on the how:
1. Searing isn’t just for grilling. A well seared steak is the epitome of flavour. But searing is oh so worthwhile in many forms of cooking. Searing your beef cubes before putting them into a stew or soup to slow cook can add miles of flavour. Searing a roast on all sides before popping it in the oven is life-changing. Sear your homemade burgers and never turn back.
2. Remove moisture. When your beef is wet or moist and you drop it onto the heat, you end up actually steaming it. Steaming is great for veggies, but not so great for steak. Pat dry your meat if it seems moist, or let it air dry in the fridge.
3. Hot hot heat. In a pan or on the grill, make sure it’s high heat. If using a pan, heavy cast iron is better as it will hold its heat when the cool meat hits it. Avoid crowding the pan for this reason as well.
4. Use oil. Apply a thin coating of oil (something with a high smoke point) to the pan or brush onto the meat. The purpose of the oil is not to deep fry so don’t use too much! What the oil does is it creates even surface contact between your meat and the pan – this way you avoid burned sections beside sections that missed searing all together.
5. Don’t touch it. Learn through experience how long you want to let the beef sear before turning. 3 or 4 minutes is a good place to start for a steak 1+ inches thick. When the meat is ready, it will release from the pan – don’t go trying to peak underneath it before it’s ready!
Hopefully this changes your perspective a little bit regarding searing. And more importantly, hopefully it takes your next beef dish to the next level of deliciousness.
If all this grilling talk has you geared up for spring BBQs, we'll be back in stock with a full selection of beef in about 2 weeks...so you might want to our online shop and make sure you're well set up for summer!
If you have any questions, as always feel free to get in touch.
Willie & Jorie