Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Seasoning meat

This is really just a technique post. It has always bothered me that we season (and occasionally spice) the meat that we are going to put in a braise. Most recipes read, "pat the meat dry, season with salt and pepper, rub with oil and brown on all sides..."
This can lead to bunt pepper and other burnt flavors (eg if using cayenne, paprika, garlic powder, etc.).
So I got to thinking - What would happen if I didn't season the meat before browning (heresy!) Instead, I prepared the seasining and spicing mix in a separate bowl (making sure there is enough kosher or sea salt). Dry the meat thoroughly, coat with oil as before and then brown thoroughly at a good high temperature to get maximal browning.
Once the meat is browned, toss it into the seasonings bowl and make sure the seasonings coat the meat. As the meat cools, the seasonings dissolve into the surface and then penetrate to a decent depth.
Of course if the spices you are planning to use need to be bloomed before use, I bloom them prior to putting the meat into the pan. Then when the spices are bloomed, I add them to the seasoning bowl.
Once the meat is removed from the pan, then I use the same pan to cook the aromatics. The liquid released, especially from onions effectively deglazes the pan. The aromatics are then combined with the seasoned/spiced meat before moving on to the stewing or braising step.
What about the results? The meat browned more thoroughly because there was no opportunity for the salt to draw out more liquid. The flavors were deep. So all in all a success.
This is now my go to method of seasoning meats for stews and braises.

No comments: