How to Pan Sear

pan searing 101

This cooking method, when done properly, ensures that your poultry, pork, and fish will have a crisp, delicate crust while maintaining a juicy, flavorful interior.

To pan sear, you will need:

A healthy oil that will stand up to higher temps (I prefer to use a small amount of olive oil or grapeseed oil -do not use extra virgin olive oil, since it will lose its integrity and degrade in high heat)

Your favorite type of fine flour, sifted.  Again, you only want to use a small amount.  Sprinkle on just enough to coat the meat, and dust or shake off excess.  You can add your favorite spices here, but be wary of those that may burn!

A pan that is heavy enough to hold in heat evenly, such as cast iron or stainless steel.

Patience

Tongs or metal flipper

Directions:

MISE EN PLACE This is a French term for “everything in its place”.  This will become your motto throughout this challenge!  When we have everything prepared and ready to go, we have an exponentially greater likelihood for a successful outcome.

Put a small amount of oil in your pan (just enough to coat the bottom and prevent sticking)

After your pan is on the stovetop, turn the burner to medium heat.  You do not need to char your food.  If you’re one of those people that cooks everything on high heat, just stop!  Seriously!  Slow down and enjoy the process, man!

You want to make sure that the oil has heated to a high enough temperature that it will sizzle when your meat hits it.  If your oil isn’t hot enough, it’ll just soak into your coating and you’re going to have a nasty, oily piece’o’meat.  Yuck!  You can test your oil with a droplet of water – if it sizzles, you’re ready.  If not, continue waiting.  This is about patience.  You can also try a second method, and this is to look for a LIGHT spurting of white smoke.  You don’t want it to be easily detected.  If you see a decent amount of white smoke, take your pan of the burner and let it cool, adjusting your heat to a lower setting.

Here’s the part that everyone messes up on, but you won’t, now that you know better:

Place your meat in the heated pan.  Leave it alone.  You’re only going to flip your meat ONCE before it’s done.  That’s it!

DO NOT take your pan off of the burner.  DO NOT force the meat to release itself from the pan.  If it’s sticking, it’s not done yet.

So, how will you know when it’s time to flip that sucker?  You will see that the meat has cooked about halfway through by observing that it has changed color about halfway up to the top half of the cut.  For instance, the bottom of your chicken will be white, the top half will be pink.  This is the best time to flip.  Again, if you have to fight it to pull it up, it’s not done yet.  Your meat will flip without sticking when it’s ready.  This process takes minutes.  You want the crust to be a paper bag brown.  This is the good stuff, right here.

Flip your meat at this point, and continue cooking until you no longer see raw bits around the edges and juices run clear.  Test with a meat thermometer, away from the bone (if any), and do so at the thickest part of the cut.

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