• Hal Decker

Chef's Secret.....Pan Roasting


If I could teach you just one chef’s technique that will help you save time in the kitchen and deliver a thick cut of meat to the table with a perfect sear and juicy medium-rare throughout, it would be pan roasting. This is, hands down, one of the best and most efficient cooking methods around. Pan roasting takes advantage of conductive heat from the stove plus radiant and convective heat in the oven to cook thicker cuts perfectly and in short order. You will not find this pan roasting technique in many cookbooks but is a technique taught in every culinary arts school and used by professional chefs every day. Some chefs use this technique as part of their mise en place. They sear the meat during prep time, hold it in a low boy refrigerator and finish the cooking process to order in the oven. Even if the technique is used without any holding time, this cooking method saves time over straight oven roasting and is more practical than pan frying for thicker cuts of meat.

Here is what you will need: a heavy pan that will retain heat and is oven safe (cast iron is really ideal for this) a lean cut of meat at cool room temperature, canola oil, salt and pepper, kitchen tongs and oven mitts. Preheat your oven to 350 degrees, F. Preheat the pan over medium-high to high heat. Make sure the pan is good and hot. The trick is to have it hold its heat as much as possible once you put the meat in. That is why cast iron is ideal—even though it is not as conductive as some metals, once it heats up, it stays hot for a very long time. Once the pan is very hot, add enough canola oil (or other neutral oil with a high smoke point) to coat the bottom. Wait a minute or two for the oil to get good and hot, season your meat with salt and pepper, and place it in the pan. Make sure there is a lot of pan real estate around the meat. You do not want to crowd the meat and risk steaming rather than searing. How you proceed from here is up to you. I’ve seen people sear one side and then finish the whole thing in the oven. I’ve also seen chefs sear all sides of the meat and then finish in the oven. I say that, since we’re looking for an amazing crust and a moist, juicy interior, go ahead and sear all sides on the stovetop.

Once you are happy with your sear, place the meat in the oven to let it finish cooking. Use an instant read thermometer to check the internal temperature of the meat to your desired doneness and remove it from the oven about five degrees cooler than the target temperature. Cover and let the meat rest. Carryover cooking will finish the process. Beef and Lamb Rare 120 to 125 degrees F center is bright red, pinkish toward the exterior portion Medium Rare 130 to 135 degrees F center is very pink, slightly brown toward the exterior portion Medium 140 to 145 degrees F center is light pink, outer portion is brown Medium Well 150 to 155 degrees F not pink Well Done 160 degrees F and above steak is uniformly brown throughout Poultry (Chicken & Duck) 165 degrees F cook until juices run clear Fish (steaks, filleted or whole) 140 degrees F flesh is opaque, flakes easily Tuna, Swordfish, & Marlin 125 degrees F cook until medium-rare (do not overcook or the meat will become dry and lose its flavor.

From start to finish, pan roasting should take anywhere from ten to twenty minutes, depending upon the thickness of the meat you are cooking. One of the great bonuses of pan roasting is taking the few minutes that the meat is resting to make a quick pan sauce with the drippings in the pan. De glaze with the liquid/s of your choice, reduce, check for seasonings and finish the sauce with a pat of butter or maybe a splash of cream. Elegant enough for a dinner party, but attainable on a busy weeknight. Next: Sauté


Suggested recipe.......Braised Short Ribs