Searing debate...

Joined May 2, 2003
OK, so this is one of those topics that I have heard much disagreement on.  So now I bring it to ChefTalk for your two cents. 

The main question is, "What is the purpose of searing meat?"  I personally believe it is more about creating flavor than sealing in juices.  Let a seared steak rest, and what do you see on the resting dish?  Juices.  However, I continually read in cookbooks written by accomplished cooks (not necessarily official chefs) the phrase "Sear your meat to seal in juices."  I have had many people agree with my point of view, but I have had an equal amount of people disagree. 

And to play my own devil's advocate, there have been a couple of occasions where I seared a burger that I had seasoned liberally.  Even after resting, no juices seeped out.  But upon biting into the burger, juices would shoot out!  In my experience, its only been with burgers, but I personally credit this result to the seasoning crusting over, as opposed to the pure searing action--i.e. I would have gotten the same result with lower temp cooking.  But hey...I am always interested in hearing differing points of view.  And go!  /img/vbsmilies/smilies/biggrin.gif
Joined Oct 10, 2005

Caramelized meat juices taste like caramelized meat juices.  Braised meat juices taste like braised meat juices.

It's that simple.....
Joined Dec 8, 1999
According to McGee, searing as a means to seal in juices was first hypothesized around the 1850's. It was subsequently found to be untrue via experiments around the 1930's. Easiest way to get your point across to a "searing is sealing" believer is to ask why the sizzle of juices the pan continues after the alleged sealing occurs.

I'm going to move this to the food and cooking discussion so everyone can play.
Joined Mar 3, 2010
it doesnt seal in juices, while at school we were taught that. it gives color and flavor by browning your meat 1st. does not seaal in juices
Joined Dec 23, 2000
"I am always interested in hearing differing points of view."


I suggest you get in touch with M. Maillard !  /img/vbsmilies/smilies/tongue.gif

Joined Oct 23, 2008
I do think that searing has little to no play on whether a meat retains it's juices. Consider this, when you are working with a meat that has a lot of fat, and you wish to render off that fat, what do you do? Low and slow, and for the duration. If you want to cook down a pork butt, you want it to cook around 225-250 for around 6-9 hours. During that time, the juices certainly drip away, but because there is so much fat, you end up with an incredibly tender and still to the mouth feel, moist pork.

Give a t-bone that same treatment, and it will end up dry. Searing means high heat. High heat also usually means quickly cooking so a filet is going to retain most of it's juices if seared and cooked to medium/rare in 5 minutes. However, If you sear a roast, the only reason you are doing it is for the caramelization of the outer meat to add to the flavor profile. It has nothing to do with the amount of moisture that is kept in the meat.


Searing adds sooooooooooooooooooo much flavor.

Thats all I have to say about that. 
Joined May 2, 2003
Thanks for all your comments everyone...even the snarky ones that didn't read my post thoroughly! /img/vbsmilies/smilies/biggrin.gif

To RESTATE what I had already said, "I" don't believe it seals in juices.  I was just throwing the topic out there for debate.  What I find irksome is reading cookbooks from cooks who should know better but still get it wrong.  The last example for me was from Steven Raichlen in his book The BBQ Bible.  Now, while I would expect this from Rachel Ray, Sandra Lee, or any other Food Network "star," I was rather disappointed to hear this from a respected meat man like Raichlen.  But I am glad to see that so many here on ChefTalk also understand the correct purpose of searing.  Thanks again for the fun!/img/vbsmilies/smilies/thumb.gif

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