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Better Cooking with Science!
The kitchen's a laboratory, and everything that happens there has to do with science. It's biology, chemistry, physics. Yes, there's history. Yes, there's artistry. Yes, to all of that. But what happened there, what actually happens to the food is all science. - Alton Brown
I took some pride in being the non-scientist in my family. But, as my biologist daughter pointed out, because I cook, I use science all the time. Planning to amaze and astound my family, I set about learning few cookery science terms. First up on my new vocabulary list was Maillard (my-yar) Reaction. Just saying those words made me feel so scientific. Maillard Reaction is simply another way to say delicious, savory, goodness achieved by creating sticky browned bits on your dinner.
The Maillard Reaction covers your food with deliciousness because of a heat activated chemical reaction between sugars (carbohydrates) and amino acids (proteins). The process may not sound particularly delicious, but the result is all about great taste. The reaction intensifies savory flavors, the Umami of food, and builds the lovely sticky browned bits that smell and taste so good.
Even trace amounts of the right proteins and sugars will do. All you need is a bit of butter (butter is 1% milk proteins), quinoa, meat, beans, or a chunk of cheddar along with the complex carbs of whole grains or vegetables to achieve a beautiful Maillard. Enough with the science, let’s get cooking with the clever Mr. Maillard.
Maillard in the Oven
Vegetarian Times Crispy Quinoa Cakes proves that savory is not just for carnivores!
With Panko Buttermilk Pork Chops the buttermilk and cheese work with the Panko burnishing the pork chops with a lovely and rather different sort of savory.
For simple and savory without meat, try Roasted Cherry Tomatoes with Parmesan.
Can you really put the words Low Fat and Crème Brulee in the same recipe? Yes you can! Just use your favorite egg substitute.
Maillard in a Pan
Herbivoracious’s Vegetarian Potstickers (Gyoza) may be a small stretch to qualify as Maillard, but it is certainly savory and deliciously browned, so we’ll pretend it fits the list.
The Refined Chef’s Seared Scallops with Brown Butter and Chive Sauce looks simply heavenly. The goregous pic for this article is of seared scallops.
Browned Butter Glazed Carrots and Onions is one of my families low calorie favorites. Butter and carrots both have trace amounts of protein. There may not be much, but it is enough to transform the veggies into a lovely browned side dish.
Italian-American Beef is a Malliard and braise recipe that my family loves. It may not be the traditional roasted Italian Beef that you would find in Chicago, but it is deliciously easy.
Do you always choose the part of the meal with the most browned bits? Are you a browned cheese lover? Are you a scientist or a chef? Will you explain the chemical reaction in a way more efficiently than this non-scientist can? What is your favorite well browned and savory recipe? Share the recipe! Do you make a traditional Italian Beef? Share the recipe with everyone here! If you would like your recipe considered for CC Palate, please send it to me via pm. This article may be reprinted (including bio) with prior permission from the author.