Chances are when you walk past a steakhouse or burger joint your nose will catch an odor that’s sure to make your mouth water. This is the unmistakable smell of seared meat that harkens back to something even our ancient ancestors loved.
One could argue that seared meat is an institution all onto itself and deserves recognition up there with holding a baby or saluting the flag. This begs the question, what is t about seared meat that makes us love it so much?
What Makes Seared Meat Taste & Smell So Good
When t comes to the science of food chemistry there are a few nuanced things that contribute to the pleasant aroma and flavor of seared meat. This includes things like Umami, and the fat content of the meat is seared. Though what really triggers our sense of smell and taste s something called The Maillard Reaction.
This s a special type of chemical bond that s formed when meats and certain carbohydrates are introduced to a direct flame. The compounds that are created are incredibly complex, as well as aromatic and flavorful. The human sense of smell and taste adapted through the ages to detect and enjoy these flavor compounds with increasing intensity.
The direct heat of a grill flame is the ideal way to activate the Maillard Reaction in meat. Though there is some art and science that goes into maximizing a flavorful sear. The type of meat, the degree of doneness, and any surface seasonings will all go into how much flavor a seared piece of meat develops.
What Is The Best Type Of Grill For Searing Meat
Direct flame grills like charcoal grill and a gas grill tend to do the best job of searing meat. Though electric grills with nichrome elements and outdoor griddles can also do an impressive job of searing meat. Wood pellet grills and smokers aren’t technically ideal for searing meat, as they use indirect heating to cook the meat. Though you can still get a little bit of a sear by fully preheating the grates or using a cast iron griddle in the primary cooking chamber.
How Hot Should My Grill Be To Sear Meat
As a general rule of thumb, your grill flame needs to be at least 350 degrees. The time and temperature recommendations that follow in this article will be based on an assumed grill temperature of 350 to 400 degrees. If you happen to have an infrared grill or a grill that can get hotter than 450-degrees you will need to shorten the recommended grill time?
Does The Type Of Grate Effect How A Grill Sears Meat
The thicker the metal of the grill grates, the better it will do at developing a flavorful sear. Cast iron, with a porcelain coating, tends to produce a powerful sear, but it does take longer to preheat, as the thick metal needs to fully absorb sufficient heat energy to sear the meat with that telltale sizzle. Thick stainless steel is also good at creating a powerful sear. With chrome plated and thin stainless steel being serviceable. Expanded metal grill grates tend to do little for developing a crust, though they do tend to expose more of the meat to the flames of the grill.
How To Sear A Steak
Steak is one of the most popular meats to sear on a grill. Though there are varying degrees of doneness. While most people prefer medium-rare, there are other degrees of doneness that might fit your preference.
Regardless of whether you want it rare, medium-rare, or well done, you should season the steak at least 15 to 20 minutes in advance with salt and pepper to let the seasonings imbue the meat. This will also pull the water-soluble proteins to the surface of the meat. You can then dab lightly with a clean paper towel. Another light sprinkle of salt and a gentle glaze of olive oil will also help develop a flavorful sear, while also helping keep the meat from sticking to the grill grates.
How To Sear A Rare Steak
Grill the steak for 3 minutes without moving the steak to develop a flavorful crust. Then flip and cook for 2 minutes to cook through to an internal temperature of 130 degrees on an instant-read thermometer.
How To Sear A Medium Rare Steak
Grill the steak for 4 minutes without moving the steak to develop a flavorful crust. Then flip and continue searing on the other side for 3 minutes to cook through to an internal temperature of 135 to 140 degrees on an instant-read thermometer.
How To Sear A Medium Steak
Grill the steak for 4 minutes without moving the steak to develop a flavorful crust. Then flip and grill on the second side for 4 minutes to cook through to an internal temperature of 140 to 145 degrees on an instant-read thermometer.
How To Sear A Medium-Well Steak
You should start by grilling the steak for 5 minutes without moving the steak to develop a flavorful crust. Then flip and grill on the second side for 5 to 6 minutes to cook until an instant-read thermometer shows an internal temperature of 145 to 155 degrees.
How To Sear A Well-Done Steak
Some people argue that a well-done steak is thoroughly overdone. In general, if you want a well-done steak on the grill 6 minutes per side should give you an internal temperature of 160+ degrees on an instant-read thermometer.
How To Sear Chicken
With chicken, the presence of a bone and the thickness of the meat will be a factor in your grilling and searing strategy. If you take a bone-in chicken thigh and try to sear it until the meat near the bone reaches a safe temperature of 165 degrees, the meat and skin will be little more than blackened ash. With thick, bone-in pieces of chicken, it’s best to grill them gently over medium-low heat until the meat cooks through. Then you can flip it over high heat to mark off and crisp the skin for two to three minutes.
How To Sear Pork
Here again, you need to make sure that your chosen cut of pork is thoroughly cooked through to 140 degrees over medium-low heat before searing. Then two to three minutes per side over high heat, direct flame to sear it off and develop a flavorful crust. Just make sure it reaches the safe temperature of 145 before serving.
How To Sear Fish
Fish can be a little tricky to sear, as some fish fillets can be very delicate. If you are worried about your fish falling apart, you might want to prioritize a skin-on fillet or grill the fish inside a locking basket. This way you can put the fish fillet directly over the grill flames to sear it to 145-degrees.