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Old 10-01-2013, 09:32 AM   #1
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Searing Meat

Hi,

I'm an amateur cook at best. I've read several sites the describe the best technique for searing meat, but I have yet to perfect it :(

I'm using a stainless steel pan with an aluminum bottom I bought at Target. My oven isn't fancy either. It is a glass-top / flat type. I was using Olive Oil but there was too much smoke. I learned about that the hard way :) I just bought some Safflower oil.

So, I'm still getting a lot of smoke. I must have the pan too hot, but I thought I read you couldn't be "too hot". That's the first thing I'd like to hear an opinion on. I think my next logical step is to clean the pan, put some oil in, and then turn the heat up a notch at a time until it smokes. Then I know the maximum heat for my set up. Does that make sense?

Also, do you prefer to put oil in the pan or to oil the meat and drop in a dry pan?

Any help is appreciated. Thanks!

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Old 10-01-2013, 09:42 AM   #2
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mattdaddym View Post
Hi,

I'm an amateur cook at best. I've read several sites the describe the best technique for searing meat, but I have yet to perfect it :(

I'm using a stainless steel pan with an aluminum bottom I bought at Target. My oven isn't fancy either. It is a glass-top / flat type. I was using Olive Oil but there was too much smoke. I learned about that the hard way :) I just bought some Safflower oil.

So, I'm still getting a lot of smoke. I must have the pan too hot, but I thought I read you couldn't be "too hot". That's the first thing I'd like to hear an opinion on. I think my next logical step is to clean the pan, put some oil in, and then turn the heat up a notch at a time until it smokes. Then I know the maximum heat for my set up. Does that make sense?

Also, do you prefer to put oil in the pan or to oil the meat and drop in a dry pan?

Any help is appreciated. Thanks!
I find this an interesting question. I don't recall discussing whether or not to oil the food or the pan.
I oil the pan and when it starts shimmering, which is usually right before it starts smoking, I add my meat/fish or whatever. However, when I am grilling I tend to oil the food, as oiling the grate (like many recipes call for) seems to flare up and burn off immediately.
Oiling the meat before placing it in a fry pan is something that sounds new to me, but I don't see why it would not work if only a thin film of oil is required.
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Old 10-01-2013, 09:48 AM   #3
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I use a cast iron pan.

Heat the pan on high, add the oil, pat the meat dry with a paper towel and place the fat side down in the pan for about 5 minutes, move the meat to a new section for 3-5 minutes and continue until the meat is uniformly seared. I put the meat into a pan with a cover, deglaze the frying pan with a little water and add that liquid to the pot with the meat along with any other vegetables, liquid etc, cover the pan and place it in the oven.

I turn back the heat a notch or two as I go along.

I also try to force myself to wait about 5 minutes for a good sear on each section.

Grease spatters all over, smoke and steam shoot to the ceiling, but for me it's worth it!

No, I don't have a pretty kitchen!
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Old 10-01-2013, 09:52 AM   #4
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If you're going to sear over high heat, you have to expect some smoke. If you have a vent hood, it should be on high before you start.

Heat the pan and add the oil. As soon as it starts to smoke, add the meat. I'd continue to oil the pan instead of the meat as the oil should be hot when you add the meat.
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Old 10-01-2013, 09:55 AM   #5
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I have been reading quite a bit about not exceeding the smoke point of the oil and all the negative effects that follow. However, this means reducing the heat. So, that's sort of where I've been stuck. Does anyone know how hot a pan can get? I realize this could vary quite a bit. Thanks.
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Old 10-01-2013, 10:35 AM   #6
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As Andy said, you are going to get smoke and grease splatter to when you cook on high like that. I start it on high but find the the highest setting is too high. Once I put the meat in, I back it off to 9 or 8 to keep it from burning. Watch and listen to the intensity of the sizzle.

Here is an example of Gordon ramsay searing a steak. You can see the level of heat he is using and the effect it has on the meat...It may help a little.
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Old 10-01-2013, 10:58 AM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mattdaddym View Post
I have been reading quite a bit about not exceeding the smoke point of the oil and all the negative effects that follow. However, this means reducing the heat. So, that's sort of where I've been stuck. Does anyone know how hot a pan can get? I realize this could vary quite a bit. Thanks.
When oil exceeds its smoke point it's not safe. I wouldnt cook in smoking oil.

Shimmering is where it should be IMO.
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Old 10-01-2013, 01:24 PM   #8
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Originally Posted by Rocklobster View Post
As Andy said, you are going to get smoke and grease splatter to when you cook on high like that. I start it on high but find the the highest setting is too high. Once I put the meat in, I back it off to 9 or 8 to keep it from burning. Watch and listen to the intensity of the sizzle.

Here is an example of Gordon ramsay searing a steak. You can see the level of heat he is using and the effect it has on the meat...It may help a little.
Perfect.

The only time I cook over high heat is when I'm blackening something. And oil the pan, not the food. As Andy said, the oil needs to be hot before the food is added. That's what they taught us in cooking school.
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Old 10-01-2013, 01:37 PM   #9
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Searing doesn't have to be done over screaming high heat. The important thing is to get some color on the outside of the meat without cooking it all the way through. With a good cast iron pan that's been sufficiently preheated, you can achieve this using a medium to medium high setting. I agree with Jennyema that if the oil is smoking, it's too hot. And if it's too hot, you're going to get some nasty burnt flavors in the meat.
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Old 10-01-2013, 02:12 PM   #10
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I'm with Steve & Bea, cast Iron for searing. Use a high heat oil, sunflower, peanut etc. However, you never mentioned what type of meat your searing? Steak, stew etc. To get a good sear, meat should be dry and at room temp. Are you searing for color or till done? Also do not use too much oil, 2 or 3 tbsp is usually enough, depending on the size of the meat. If I'm searing a Rib-Eye for instance, I'll cook to my liking (rear-med-rear) and at the end of cooking I add a tbsp of butter and splash it over the steak to finish. For stew meat I flour the meat and add it the pan, not crowding or touching eachother.
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