At a recent dinner party, a friend asked me whether it was really necessary to sear meat before cooking it, especially if it was just getting slow-cooked in a braise or a stew anyway. My friend logically pointed out that if it wasn't an important step, then why go to the extra trouble or dirty more dishes?
Searing meat is 100% about building flavor. And oh, what flavor it is! When that meat hits a scorching hot pan, the surface instantly begins caramelizing. In your stew or braise or roast, this translates into the kind of deep, savory flavor that we crave on an almost a cellular level. This is the flavor that makes us want to lick our plates clean. No sear, no plate-licking good times. Here's how to do it.