Thursday, June 3, 2010
Maillard Reaction- a complex browning reaction that results in the particular flavor and color of foods that do not contain much sugar, including roasted meats. The reaction which involves carbohydrates and amino acids, is named after the French scientist who discovered it. There are low temperature and high temperature reactions, the high temperature reaction starts at 310 degrees- TPC 8th edition
Whether we are talking a pork roast for your crock-pot, or a duck breast, most foods benefit from the addition of the Maillard reaction or searing. searing is also the first step in getting together a proper braise. the intent is simple- to develop more flavor. a lot of chefs will say that searing also seals in juices but i don't buy it for a second. i sear to develop flavor, and if i didn't everything that i cook i might as well just boil and then serve. that's why we love grilled foods, the high heat involved on a grill introduces more flavor. i try to sear most of what i cook at home. a roast is a great example of something that you can give this a shot with. do everything you normally do when cooking a roast, but before you do it season the meat with salt, oil it, and introduce some heat (i sear in a cast iron pan, on an electric griddle, or on a cast iron griddle if we are talking about a bigger piece of meat) high heat can be used as the process will take a short amount of time. turn the meat as needed, i like to sear all sides, and then cook as you normally would. i will caution you that additions much beyond salt can burn in the searing process. things like herbs, spices, and even black pepper don't take really high heat very well, so add them after searing, but the meat wont burn unless you get out of control with the heat. smoke will be created and it will spatter but these are small sacrifices as far as i am concerned. another little quip i have is that in the restaurant i don't like the word burnt (granted things happen and are technically burnt and then discarded and recooked) so we tend to say things like over-caramelized, even over-cooked, or "i was testing the maillard reaction theory". just makes it sound like you didn't mess up as bad as you did. enjoy your day.