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Dec 22, 2007 04:50 AM

crockpot beef stew- to sear or not to sear

I'm doing beef stew in the crock pot and read varying recipes about searing or not.
My instinct says to sear the meat before putting in the crock, but if it's really not necessary I won't do it.

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  1. I always sear my meat for crockpot stew...for all of the usual reasons.

    1. If you want that nice mahogany color, you better start searing!

      1. Definitely sear, do you hear?

        5 Replies
        1. re: Val

          Dry, and dredge with seasoned flour, then sear.

          1. re: lucyis

            Then aren't you just browning the flour and not searing the meat?

            1. re: King of Northern Blvd

              Yes , I agree. I think it's a misconception that dusting with flour helps the browning process. Proper technique is the key, i.e. temperature of the oil, not moving the meat around once you set it to sear, etc. And, yes, you should sear, even for a crockpot dish.

              1. re: cookingschool

                You need to sear to get the flavors that come only from the Maillard reactions. Searing also improves the texture of the outside of the meat by creating a crust.

                A little flour on the meat won't help the browning process, but it won't prevent a good sear, either. And it thickens the sauce. You can do it either way.

                1. re: alanbarnes

                  I've been taught that flouring the meat for stew actually gives the meat a weaker, less beefy flavor. Flouring the meat will not promote browning. The Maillard reaction occurs with the proper searing technique. As you said, you need to sear to get the flavors and the deep browning. Even when you're going to braise meat, searing it in hot fat allows the outside of the meat to get hot enough to brown and create flavor. Meat cooked solely in liquid never gets hotter than the boiling point of water. Flouring the meat has nothing to do with the searing process. But it does thicken the sauce, as you said. And, I agree, you can do it either way. Isn't this what makes cooking so much fun? We all have our different ideas and ways of doing things.

        2. Yes do and deglaze the pan you seared it in, use the bits in the pan for additional flavoring for the stew. I love a good beef stew, the one I love is the one I dredge the Chateaubriand in a seasoned flour, salt&pepper, garlic powder. Then shake off the excess. Into a heavy pan for browning with oil using high heat. Dredging I find, when making stew either in a casserole soup pot or crock pot helps the the overall flavor of the meat, as well adds to the entire pot. I have tried it both ways, without it the meat seems to me, to be boiled and off color.

          1. searing is not necessary, but if you like that nice dark color to your meat, you won't get it just by throwing the raw meat in the slow cooker. Some people can taste the difference, others not so much, especially depending on what else goes into your stew.

            If i have the time, the energy, etc. I prefer to sear, but when I haven't been able to the stew has been perfectly acceptable.

            2 Replies
            1. re: KaimukiMan

              I wouldn't use the term 'sear' for this... You're browning for flavor and color, not trying to hold in moisture... The meat totally surrenders in the long braising process and the recipe's juices permeate the meat...

              But yeah, if you can, get some carmelization going for color and depth of flavor...

              It's not necessary though, because there are preparations and ingredients that'll help build the flavor volume and turn out a good result...

              Concentrated soup bases, worcestershire, soy sauce, Peruvian pepper pastes, anchovies, roasted sweet and smashed garlic cloves, bacon fat...

              I just gained two pounds writing this...

              1. re: Mild Bill

                Some pressure cooker cookbooks also say you can skip the browning process, compensating for color and flavor with other ingredients. If part of the reason why you are using the crockpot is to simplify the preparation, then why dirty the extra pan browning the meat first?

                Unless you have a lot of patience, it is hard to brown all the meat evenly. The first pieces that hit the skillet will brown, but if you crowd the pan, the remaining pieces start stewing in their own juices. Browning a large quantity of cut meat requires doing it in multiple batches.