Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Pan-Roasting Technique and the Need for a Cast-Iron Skillet

One of the techniques that high-end restaurants use a lot is "Pan-Roasting".  It is the searing of a piece of protein (beef, pork, lamb, chicken and fish primarily) in a heavy pan on the stove and then finished in the oven.

It lets you cook a thick cut that has a great sear on the outside and is cooked on the inside to your desired degree doneness (medium-rare, medium, etc.).  This is a technique that you will usually not find in most cookbooks.  However, it is taught in all "Cooking Schools" and is relatively easy to master.

 The first item you need is a heavy oven-proof skillet.  The best one for the job is a "Cast-Iron Skillet" has it has the weight and is fully oven-proof.  But also because it holds the heat better than any of the other types of skillets available.  If you take good care of a cast-iron piece of cooking equipment, it will last for generations.  Many are passed down in families.  You might check your mother's will  and see who will inherit one of her cast-iron pieces.  Cast-Iron pieces are not hard to care for either.

Now back to the technique of "Pan-Roasting".  Here is what you need and how to do it.

  • A large heavy pan (cast-iron is best) to hold heat and is oven-proof.
  • Lean cuts of protein (meat, fish etc.) at room temperature
  • Canola Oil or another oil with a high smoke point
  • Salt and Pepper for seasoning
  • Kitchen Tongs
  • Oven Mitts or good Hot Pads
  • Pre-heated Oven (between 350 and 450 degrees depending on recipe/protein)
Put the skillet on the stove over medium-high heat and let the pan heat up.  Place oil in the pan and let it heat too.  Pat your protein dry with paper towels and season each side.  Place protein in the skillet carefully and do not touch it for several minutes.  You are trying to put a good sear on this side.  You can then turn the protein and sear the second side before placing in the oven.  Some chefs only sear one side before putting the skillet in the oven.  It is up to you as to how you like your food.  I suggest trying it both ways and see which is more to your liking.  I like to sear both sides before going in the oven.

Use an instant-read thermometer in the center of the protein to check internal temperature.  Pull skillet from oven when protein is 5 to 10 degrees below desired temperature (check for what temperature you want based on type of protein you are using).  Transfer to a rack or platter and cover loosely with foil.  The protein will continue to cook while it rests.

This gives you time to make a pan sauce.  You want to be able to take advantage of those fond (flavoring stuck to the pan from searing) and drippings.  De-glaze the pan using liquids (wine goods well here) and reduce.  Checking seasoning and adjust if needed.  Add a little butter or cream to thicken and serve over the protein.  There are many different ways to make a pan sauce, so find the one that works best for you.

The two recipes this week are not really difficult but do require your attention when making them.  The first is for "Pan-Roasted Brined Pork Chop" and will feed two.  The chop has pan sauce that is used to baste it before cutting and serving.  The second is for "Sear-Roasted Salmon Fillets with Lemon-Rosemary Butter Sauce".  I didn't do a recipe for steaks, but there are many out there and it works great for any good cut of steak.

Enjoy trying to "Pan-Roast" and please let me know how it went for you.  "Happy Cooking"!

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