All you need to know about … browning
Browning is the secret to achieving a deep, complex flavour and colour. The process of browning basically involves searing a protein over high heat to caramelise the surface and it is an important step if you want to elevate your dishes to the next level of tasty. Read on to learn more and get our top tips for getting the best results when browning.
Let’s begin with a quick science tutorial … in 1912 a French chemist, Louis-Camille Maillard discovered a chemical reaction responsible for releasing flavour compounds in browned foods; this became known as the “Maillard reaction”. The reaction rearranges amino acids and simple sugars which produces not only the browning colour, but also the characteristic smells of roasting, frying and baking. The Maillard reaction distinguishes the flavours of boiled, poached or steamed foods from the flavours of the same foods that have been grilled, roasted or cooked at a temperature above boiling point. The reaction starts when meat is heated via a dry source to temperatures above 150C. This is why meat cooked via a wet method – such as corned silverside, does not brown.
Browning is a process that can be done on all protein-laden foods from beef to chicken to seafood. Here’s our top 5 tips for the best results:
1. Use a heavy-based grill pan or frying pan as this will give more even heating and provide maximum heat retention.
2. As we learned above with the Maillard reaction, wet meat won’t brown so make sure to remove any excess moisture by blotting with paper towel before you begin.
3. Preheat the pan or the barbecue if you are using it before you begin. This will ensure the meat hits a hot pan and browns without burning.
4. Don’t add oil to the pan, instead brush the protein with oil.
5. Don’t overcrowd the pan as this will reduce the heat and cause the protein to stew in its own juices.