A guide to browning lamb
BROWNING – THE MAILLARD REACTION
Browning lamb is all about building the sublime flavour. And there’s a reason why the delicious waft of searing lamb lures a crowd. As lamb hits the heat, it caramelises, and a reaction occurs between the meat’s natural sugar and amino acids, unleashing an explosion of flavour molecules.
We have Louis Camille Maillard to thank for discovering the reaction just over a century ago. After all, he gave us the scientific reason why the tastiest lamb dishes start with browning to release the meaty flavours and aromas we adore.
- Choose a heavy-based pan that’s not too big – you’ll be able to heat the pan to a very high heat and brown lamb quickly and evenly.
- Prepare lamb to recipe – if cooking a casserole, dice lamb into minimum 2 cm cubes as the meat shrinks during cooking.
- Pat lamb dry or blot excess marinade with paper towel – moisture makes lamb stick to the pan.
- Preheat barbecue or pan to medium high for 1–2 minutes – lamb needs to sear as soon as it hits the pan.
- Coat lamb with oil rather than oiling the pan or barbie – the lamb will caramelise beautifully without sticking.
- Brown a little lamb at the time – overcrowding the pan causes the meat to stew in its juices. If you see juice, strain liquid and reserve for dish if needed.
- Let lamb sizzle! It’s tempting to move it about, but lamb needs to completely sear to a dark caramelised brown before you flip it to the other side.
... why you should brown lamb before simmering your casserole? The Maillard reaction only happens when the lamb’s surface hits a dry heat source at a temperature above 154°C. If cooking using a wet method, it can’t reach this temperature. So, rather than miss out on that coveted caramelised meaty flavour, it’s best to sear your lamb before cooking.