Sear before or after roasting? With pan or torch?

johnliu_gwNovember 27, 2011

I've always seared my roasts before putting them in the oven. Call it "start-searing". I got in that habit simply because most recipes say to do it. I even used to salt the roast, leave it uncovered in the refrigerator overnight, then move it directly from 40 F refrigerator to very hot cast iron pan. My theory was that the 40 F beef would better resist being internally cooked by the searing.

But for Thanksgiving I did a roast in rock salt and seared it at the end. It was fast and worked well, so I'm now wondering if "end-searing" should be my new M.O.. Here's my new theory: after the roast has been in the oven, the exterior is well dried out, and can be seared to crusty very fast and with less effect on internal temperature.

What say you all? I know dcarch is end-searing after sous viding.

Oh, another question. I read about one chef who uses a blowtorch to sear his roast, instead of a pan. Does anyone do this? I've tried using my propane torch (the hardware store kind, like you'd use to braze copper tubing). It works well for some things, but so far I find that the flame seems too hot and too concentrated for a full roast. It turns the meat black and burnt quite easily. Also the fat cap gets bubbly and bilstered, not golden and crisp. Not to mention that it seems to take a long time to sear a whole roast with the narrow flame from a torch. Am I missing out on a great tool/technique?

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Check out the Serious Eats Food Lab. We dd a rib roast this way and it was perfect. We've been doing it this way for a couple of years, and it's worked each time.

Here is a link that might be useful: How to cook a perfect prime rib

    Bookmark   November 27, 2011 at 12:09AM
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John, first read the article sushipup linked. That is the simple science of making any perfect meat, namely, "Low & Slow". However, there is nothing wrong about people who enjoy steak with a well done outside and raw uncooked inside. "Perfect" is subjective.

BTW, my "TG It's Over" post roasted-in-the-oven turkey used the same low temperture method and it came out perfect. There was no overcooking and no blood near the bones. I started out with the turkey frozen when it went into the oven.

As to searing before or after, I think mathematically they may be about the same. They both will end up with the same meat done-ness.

However, the crisp effect can be better with sear after simply because raising the temperature higher is easier with the meat temperature already high.

I sear with the torch, with the cast iron pan, with the high heat oven, with the grill ------. It all depends on the meat, and the desired end result. I find the shop propane torch quick and easy.

I like the grill better except it's too much trouble to start the charcoal grill.


    Bookmark   November 27, 2011 at 8:30AM
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Okay, thanks! That was a great article.

I've hardly done any roast beast for over a year, just got tired of it, but I'm feeling the carnivorous thing again.

    Bookmark   November 27, 2011 at 1:18PM
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