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How To Brown Meat

Browning meat quickly over a high heat before long, slow cooking is in most cases recommended. The caramelisation of the surface sugars adds colour and flavour to the meat, some of which also transfers to the liquid, giving richer results. The meat is browned only briefly, and left raw in the middle to cook slowly at a gentle temperature. Brown the meat in small batches so you don’t overcrowd the pan and cause the temperature to drop, which will impede the browning.

1. Heat a heavy-based pan over a medium to high heat. It shouldn’t be smoking. Season the meat lightly with salt to aid the browning process, but only just before browning or it will draw moisture out of the meat.

2. Add a little oil to the pan, only thinly coating the bottom of the pan, then add the first batch of meat. The meat should sizzle vigorously as it comes into contact with the pan. If it doesn’t, the oil is not hot enough.

3. Allow the meat to brown before moving it. Once browned underneath, it will release easily and can be turned to brown the next side.

4. Brown the meat evenly on all sides, but take care not to cook it any longer than necessary to colour, or it will toughen.

5. Remove the meat from the pan and repeat the process until all the meat has been browned. Deglazing can be done in between the batches.

6. Pour off any excess oil from the pan, then deglaze by adding a little water and allowing it to come to the boil, stirring to lift any sediment from the bottom of the pan with a wooden spoon. This liquid, called the déglaçage, can be added to the dish for additional flavour. However, if it tastes burnt, you should discard it.

7. When browning mince, much the same technique applies as for pieces of meat, but without adding any salt. Once you have added the mince to the frying pan it will need to be broken down into very small pieces, using either the back of a fork or a wooden spoon. It will not turn as dark as larger pieces of meat, and would turn overly hard if it did. Again, unless you are only browning a small amount, you will need to work in batches to avoid overcrowding the pan.