Saturday, September 28, 2013

Browning meat

When making stews, I have been wary of recipes that imply that you can soften or brown onions first, and then add meat to be browned in the same pan. If you turn up the flame to the level you need to get the browning process to work, you burn the onions. Keep the flame low, and you simply stew the meat in its juices.

Or you can take the onions out of the pan first. This seems fiddly: you need to remove every last bit of onion, or you will have charred remnants tainting the flavour of the dish. However, it occurred to me that if you followed this schedule, you might get the meat to brown more quickly – for the same reason that when you brown meat in batches, you need less time for the later ones.

This theory did indeed work out when I made a stew with slices of belly pork. They browned, over a medium heat, in little more than a minute. The only problem is one I often find when I fry larger pieces of meat: the exposed areas of the pan get too hot, and char. I’d like to cook everything in one pan, but am reluctant to do so when parts of its surface are blackened.


pablopatito said...

Why the need for one pan at all? Traditionally, I've softened the onions in my casserole dish and at the same time browned my meat in a frying pan. This adds to the washing up, but decreases the time spent cooking as I'm doing two jobs at once.

I have, however, recently bought a very wide bottomed, low-sided casserole dish. As the bottom is much larger than my hob, I can soften the onions and then move them to the side of the dish, away from direct heat, whilst I brown the meat in the same dish. This works better for me than using my old, high-sided casserole dish.

Nic Holland said...

Brown the meat first, then the onions?

That way the liguid from the onions helps deglaze the pan too and they cook in mighty meaty oil