Meat Skills: Browning

Browning brings out the best in meat: As it sizzles in a pan or roasts in an oven, its color, flavor and aroma deepen. Texture changes, too; seared steaks and chops develop a nice crustiness and chicken skin turns crispy. The end result is rich, complex and satisfying. Follow these tips for success when browning in a skillet.

1. Pat the meat dry.

When preparing the meat, pat it dry to remove excess moisture; wet meat won’t brown properly. (This is also important for chicken that will be oven-roasted.) And it’s okay to salt meat just before adding it to a hot pan. While salt draws out a bit of juice, this tiny amount actually facilitates browning.

2. Heat the pan and add the oil.

Heat a large, dry skillet over medium to medium-high heat. Once the pan is hot, add the oil and heat it until hot. Then add the meat; it should audibly sizzle when it’s placed in the pan.

3. Don't overcrowd.

Don’t crowd the meat in the skillet. If the pieces are too close together, it will create excess moisture and the meat will steam in its own juices instead of browning. If the sizzling stops as you add meat to the pan, there are too many pieces in the pan. And if the juices start flowing from the meat and the meat is turning gray, either the pan is crowded or the heat is too low.

Turning the meat.

If the meat sticks when you turn it, it’s not ready to be turned. Give it another minute or two, and try again.

Test your browning skills with this recipe. Browned Pork Chops with Bacon and Bourbon-Molasses Glaze.