Searing And Sealing

Searing

The purpose of searing meats at high heat is to create desirable flavor and color by browning the surfaces. It was long believed that searing the surface of meat "seals the pores," keeping in juices.

This does not actually happen. Meat does not have pores but rather an open network of fibers.Think of the surface of a steak as resembling the cut end of a thick rope. There are no pores to seal. It is true that heavy browning creates a kind of crust on the surface of the meat, but this crust is no more waterproof than an unbrowned surface.

You can easily demonstrate that this is true. Place a steak or chop on a hot griddle or grill and sear it well.Turn it over and continue cooking.As it cooks,you will see meat juices driven up through the seared top surface.You will continue to hear a sizzling sound, which is the sound of moisture escaping from the meat and quickly vaporizing. Remove the finished steak from the grill and let it set on a plate for a few minutes, and you will see a small pool of juices collect. Everyone who has cooked a steak has seen this demonstration that searing doesn't seal.

Roasts cooked from the start at a low temperature retain more juices than roasts that are seared at high heat first.

Steaks, chops, and cutlets cooked quickly at high heat retain more moisture at first because the intense heat instantly evaporates the juices from the surface of the meat and forces internal juices further into the meat.This permits browning, because moisture would create steam and inhibit browning. However, overcooked steaks are dry whether or not they were seared.

Blanching and "Sealing"

Dropping meat into boiling water doesn't seal the pores either.What actually happens is this: Many proteins dissolve in cold water. When heated, these proteins coagulate and become froth or scum on the surface of the water. When meat is placed into boiling water, some of the protein coagulates inside that meat and not as much is carried out of the meat with the lost moisture. Prolonged cooking shrinks meat as much if started in boiling water as if started in cold water.

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