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Today is my husband Joey’s Birthday. I love Birthdays as a celebration of life, a year of achievements and fun times to come. When it comes to his birthday dinner Joey usually wants a nice steak, potatoes and a good glass of wine. So, we rarely go out, as the food is so much better at home. I don’t know about you, but I have been to many overpriced steakhouses only to leave with enough food to feed 3 more people and a thought of “it was good, but not great”. I would feel better making it healthier, choosing quality meats, spending way less money and feeling good about this special gift of love and food I am providing. For me one of the greatest gifts I can give someone is sharing fine food and conversation over a meal at home. So how do you get that restaurant quality at home? It all starts with knowing the basic skills of how to properly sear meat to lock in that golden crust, juicy, tender center. Make sure you don’t get caught making one of these 5 most common mistakes that will sabotage your efforts.

Have questions? Need help pulling off that special meal for someone you love? Contact me here, I am happy to help!

5 Most Common Mistakes When Searing Meat

5 Most Common Mistakes When Searing Meat

1. The Pan is Too Cold

When the pan is too cold the inside of the meat will cook at the same rate as the outside leaving you a gray overcooked piece of meat. High temperatures are a must for developing that caramelized crust. Use medium high heat and skim the pan with oil, the oil should “shimmer” when it is hot enough but not “smoke”. If the pan starts to smoke the pan is too hot. When the meat hits the pan it should sizzle instantly, if it doesn’t remove it and let the pan warm for a few more minutes.

2. Use Too Much or Not Enough Oil

The oil helps maintain the uniform surface contact between the meat and the pan. This is needed for even browning preventing spots that stick and burn and those that are pale. Too much oil and it will splatter and burn you as your pan fries, if too little it may stick and have uneven browning or burn. As the pan is heating, swirl the oil around to get a thin coating over the bottom of the pan, that’s all you need. If you notice that while cooking it starts to burn, you can add more oil or try lowing the heat a little.

3. Using “Wet” Meat

Yes, your heard me correctly. If the meat has too much moisture it will splatter when it hits the oil in the pan. This will most likely burn you. Also the moisture on the surface creates steam, which prevents the meat from getting nice and caramelized. When the pan is heating gently pat the meat dry removing excess moisture. Another trick is to lightly salt the meat. Not only for good seasoning and flavor, but salt also helps draw moisture out and crisp up the skin.

4. Overcrowding the Pan

If you put too much stuff in the pan at once or use a pan that is too small, the moisture that is released while cooking will actually steam the meat rather than sear it. Make sure your pan is large enough to hold the meat and still have space around it for best results.

5. Lack of Patience

Once you’ve put the meat in the pan, let it be. Resist the urge to peak under the meat or move things around. Remember you are searing, not sautéing. The meat needs a few minutes of uninterrupted contact to get a good sear. The meat will stick to the bottom of the pan at first and then release naturally letting you know when it is ready. After a few minutes, shake the pan or carefully check just one edge. If the meat releases from the pan easily, it’s ready to be flipped to another side.

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{ 2 comments… add one }
  • Justin March 26, 2015, 4:06 pm

    Very Helpful. I didn’t know about most of this. Especially the added benefit of Salt in prepping the meat.

    • Rachel Sherwood March 27, 2015, 7:52 am

      Hi Justin,
      So glad it was helpful, good luck on making that perfect steak. Let me know how it turns out.


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