Skillet Browning Tips

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 pleasing crustiness and chicken skin turns crispy. The end result is rich, complex and decidedly satisfying. Follow these tips for success when browning in a skillet.

1. 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.) 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 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 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.

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

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