Reader question: Dear Ms. Yarnell, Been enjoying the one pot meals, but have a question. The meat meals don’t seem to brown the meat. Is that right? Wondering if I’m doing something wrong. ~ Peter S., Arlington
Hi Peter — I’m so glad to hear you are enjoying GOPMs!
To answer your question, in Glorious One-Pot Meals, the meats don’t brown for the same reason the oils don’t oxidize: the lidded cast iron Dutch oven is a closed vessel. You need an oxygen supply to make these things happen. Poached meats don’t brown, either. You’re not doing anything wrong, and the meat is still fully cooked up to recommended temperatures according to food safety standards, but it likely won’t be browned when it comes out of the pot.
Some people find meat that hasn’t been browned unappetizing looking (it still tastes great, it just looks weird to them because they are accustomed to seeing browned meat. As an aside, browning meat may create carcinogens as the fat heats and oxidizes, but that’s another topic.)
If you prefer not to look at un-browned meat, try the GOPM recipes that are saucy, like the African Peanut Butter Chicken, Thai Curry with Tofu, or Chicken with Savory Port Mushroom Sauce. Of course, being GOPMs, you can substitute any protein into these recipes and they will still be delicious masterpieces done in 45 minutes.
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Thanks for your informative answer, Elizabeth.
One follow up: If one LIKES browned meat, can one sear the meat before hand in the pot…or in a skillet…in your recipes?
If so, how does one compensate for the added cooking time?
It’s true. I’ve been getting some, ah, “feedback” on the lack of browning. Though not on the taste!
I take your point about carcinogens…
Yes, of course you can sear the meat first and then build the rest of the meal in the pot and put it inside the oven.
I have no idea how pre-searing will affect the overall amount of time needed to bake in the oven, but perhaps your nose will still be able to tell you when your GOPM is perfectly done. I would guess it might cut off 10-20 minutes from your cooking time, but it probably depends how much of your meat cooked when you seared it.
If you try it, please return and share your results here.