Dec 12, 2014

Searing Meat

A 19th century German chemist Justus von Liebig was one of the first people to propose that by applying very high temperatures to meat you would create a 'sealed' layer of cooked meat through which liquid inside the meat couldn't escape.

Liebig's experiment compared the liquid and nutrients from a piece of meat submerged in cold water which was gradually heated in that water and simmered in the cooking liquid with a dry piece of meat applied to an extremely hot surface. Liebig thought that searing meat "sealed in juices," because the resulting meat was juicier than the meat that was essentially boiled to death.

However, in the book On Food and Cooking, Harold McGee makes a direct comparison between a seared piece of meat and an un-seared piece, both cooked with identical methods. The result was that the seared piece of meat actually retained fewer juices than the un-seared piece, and at the very least the searing did nothing to preserve the moisture inside the meat. This debate still continues. Many people think that searing meat does result in moister meat, while others dispute it.

In reality, the best thing about searing meat is that when applied to high heat, the surface of the meat undergoes the Maillard Reaction, which results in some delicious browning on the surface of the meat. Bottom line; sear your steaks, not because it locks in juices, but because it is tastier.