WATCH: How to Pan Sear Perfectly
The secret to perfecting the skill of pan searing is patience.
Pan searing is the simplest way to get food on the table fast. It's fast, easy, and a great way to develop flavor, from simple pork chops to searing beef cubes to start a stew. But if you are one of those people who just can't seem to sear meat right, we have news for you: all you really need is patience.
Here are the steps towards pan searing on the stovetop to perfection every time.
1 Prepare to wait.
When it comes to searing, you’ll do lots of waiting. Wait for the pan to heat up. Then wait for the oil to get hot enough. Wait for the meat to sear and create that flavorful crust that only searing can make. Wait for the meat to cook on one side then the other. Wait for the meat to rest before slicing into it and enjoying it. Once you've prepared yourself to be patient, you’re ready to sear.
2 Let the pan, then oil, heat up.
To sear, you’ll need the pan (you can use either stainless or nonstick) and oil to be almost smoking. To test, place your hand above the pan’s surface. You’ll know once it’s hot enough; you won’t be able to hold your hand over the pan for longer than 5 seconds.
3 Add the meat, patted dry beforehand, to the pan.
The pork, chicken, beef, or fish should have been patted dry before adding to the pan, so that when it’s added to the pan, searing–not steaming–can take place. Any wet spots will result in sticking.
4 Wait for the meat to develop a crust.
The most crucial part of the searing process is waiting for the meat to develop a flavorful crust on the side that is being seared. When the meat has developed this crust, it should easily release from the pan surface. Feel free to check but don’t force it. If it’s stuck, it’s not ready to be flipped. Once that crust has been created, that’s the time to flip and cook the other side.
5 Flip. And wait again.
Once flipped, allow this side to develop its crust. Press down if needed so the surface of the meat is against the hot pan. Again, the crust will determine when it’s ready. For particularly thick cuts, such as thick-cut pork chops or chicken breasts, you may opt to cover the pan with a lid to help cook it through. If the meat is not to your desired doneness yet, like in the case of steaks and salmon which can be cooked to degrees of doneness, flip again as needed until the meat is.
Both sides are seared and crusted over? Perfect! Take it off the heat, and let it rest before slicing. Need a sauce? Deglaze the pan! Use white wine, stock, or even water to dissolve the browned bits (aka fond aka flavor!) off the bottom of the pan or make a roux to start a gravy. This creates a flavorful sauce to go with your seared meat if desired.
Now that you're armed with these tips and tricks, it's time to sear, whether it's beef, pork, fish, or even that steak you've been wanting to try.