Originally Posted by Andy M.
Your test shows that a steak cooked on a grill with fat and smoke tastes different from a pan fried steak. That's not the issue.
Pan fry a steak with a nice dark brown crust then pan fry a steak over low heat so no dark brown crust forms and compare those. That was the discussion point.
Andy; You are correct in stating that browning meat does alter the flavor, and in a good way. Another part of that equation is the salt flavor that interacts with that browned crust. Without it, the meat is still somewhat bland. But the interaction of flavors, with the salt adding to the browned meat cells produces a rich flavor.
I have often wondered if it wasn't the sugars found inside the meat at the cellular level that caused the maillard effect. The crust that creates the fond is very sticky, like cooked sugar. I just don't know.
I believe I was off the mark with my original comments, in that, I have heard many people the confuse the source of "grilled over heat" (burnt fat smoke) flavor. Some have said that it was because of intence heat, while others purport it to be caused by the grill marks.
But in afterthought, a piece of meat that is properly browned in a pan does have a richer flavor than does poached, or steamed meat. This is especially evident in pan-fried pork, but is a characteristic of all meats.
Also, as I think about it, the fond from beef is very similar in flavor to that of chicken, pork, and even fish. So again, I wonder, does it come from the meat, or from the salt, or a combination of meat juices and salt combining and sticking to the meat surface?
Of course there are other flavor compounds at work that give each kind of meat its own, unique flavors as well.
This is an interesting topic.
And thanks for making me think about what I post. I still consider you one of the best guys around to have such a discussion with. You hellp me think a little more straight, which is needed sometimes.
Seeeeeeya; Chief Longwind of the North