The Maillard Reaction

A common beef cooking technique that should never be skipped is browning. Why? Because browning creates beef flavors that can only be produced through dry heat – unique flavors and aromas that are not intrinsic to the beef itself. During browning, temperatures of 350°F or higher on the surface of the beef cause proteins (amino acids) and carbohydrates (sugars) to caramelize into intense flavors and aromas. There are a very limited number of carbohydrates in meats, enough for the browning reaction. This browning process is called the Maillard Reaction, named after the French scientist who discovered it. Everything from baked goods to coffee beans to beef benefit from this complex reaction of sugars and amino acids caused by higher heat. The Maillard Reaction is the reason why a beef stew has a richer flavor when the beef, vegetables and flour are browned before adding the liquid.
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