Pan-Searing is Fun
This method of cooking meat is so versatile that I thought it was worth exploring in greater depth. If you are not into lengthy explanations of simple things, skip right to the recipes. Give Ashley’s Curry Chicken a try or my Cranberry Pork Chops. For a quick meal, sear some chicken for a salad. The result is tender and moist meat that is great sliced on just about anything. (Just follow the directions under Curry Chicken.)
When you pan-sear, the idea is to create color on the meat. You want to develop a brown crust, and the more color the better. That brown caramelized crust comes from the moisture evaporating out onto the hot pan, and there are a few rules to making this
glorious event come to pass.
First, you need the right kind of pan. While people disagree on this (mostly the makers of non-stick and Teflon I think), I prefer a stainless steel sauté pan to the non-stick variety because you can get a richer color on the meat.
Secondly, you don’t want to overcrowd the pan, or you will end up steaming your meat instead of pan-searing it. Give everything space to breathe and turn up the heat.
Perhaps the most important rule however, is to just leave the meat alone. Once it touches the pan, don’t move it. Yes, it will stick to the pan at first, but once the crust forms, you can easily flip it over. Remember, you are aiming for color. (But, seriously, this isn’t blackened chicken. Brown is what you want.)
Once both sides have a nice brown crust, you can finish cooking the meat all the way through in the oven or by covering the pan and turning the heat down to low. If you cook the meat completely in the oil, however, you have crossed over from pan-searing to frying because you’ll need to add more oil to keep it from burning, and now you’re in a whole new calorie range.
Meat that has been pan-seared is moist and flavorful, not to mention ready in under ten minutes. It’s certainly my go-to method for a quick meal that tastes like you spent a long time in the kitchen.