Question - why flour meat before cooking?

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Question - why flour meat before cooking?

Postby Peter May » Tue Jan 15, 2013 2:13 pm

Following two recipes last week, Chicken Piccata and a Jamie Oliver beef stew, both required the meat to be covered in 'seasoned' flour.

First recipe was for chicken excalopes which were fried, second for cubes of beef that weren't to be browned.

Question is - why?

What does the flouring do/add/achieve?
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Re: Question - why flour meat before cooking?

Postby Mark Willstatter » Tue Jan 15, 2013 2:40 pm

When the meat isn't browned, I don't know. When it *is* browned I think one reason is to encourage the formation of those meaty "brown bits" that stick to the bottom of the pan that contribute so much to the flavor of a sauce. Flour also helps thicken the final product. In the sense that flour+fat=roux and both fat and flour are present when browning meat, those brown bits represent a sort of meat-flavored brown roux. Again, I'm not sure about flour where browning is not involved. You'd still get some thickening but I would think the result wouldn't be as good as with browning.
Last edited by Mark Willstatter on Tue Jan 15, 2013 3:13 pm, edited 2 times in total.
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Re: Question - why flour meat before cooking?

Postby Jenise » Tue Jan 15, 2013 2:46 pm

Mark's right, and one addition: that the flour barrier helps keep the meat from sticking to the pan. Experienced cooks with seasoned pans and good saucing skills can skip that step or use other better methods (you wouldn't want flour as the thickener in every sauce). I never do it, but growing up I remember fondly that my grandmother dredged and pan-fried EVERYTHING.
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Re: Question - why flour meat before cooking?

Postby David Creighton » Tue Jan 15, 2013 4:36 pm

well, if it isn't to be browned the only thing it could do is help with thickening as has been mentioned. even then it is odd. but with browning, the obvious thing is that you then end up browning the flour NOT the meat. for beef, this would be odd. for chicken, you would normally brown the skin because the meat itself tends to get stringy when it is cooked at a temperature that would brown it. so, flouring the chicken would enable you to give it a slight brown color without making it tough and stringy. for beef, browning improves flavor while for chicken i tend to think of it as cosmetic at best.
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Re: Question - why flour meat before cooking?

Postby Heinz Bobek » Tue Jan 15, 2013 8:43 pm

The reason to dust the meat with flour before cooking is to absorb the moisture on the surface of the meat piece, which facilitates the roast. Additionally dusting with flour improves the taste of protein-rich foods during cooking because the flour contains also the necessary carbohydrates for the aroma forming Maillard reactions. Also dusting the meat with flour shortens the browning process and due to this more moisture remains in the meat for delicateness.
Last edited by Heinz Bobek on Thu Jan 17, 2013 8:17 pm, edited 4 times in total.
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Re: Question - why flour meat before cooking?

Postby Peter May » Wed Jan 16, 2013 1:32 pm

Thanks all for the explanations.

By the by, in the Jamie beef stew recipe he writes

no time is spent browning the meat. Even though this goes against all my training, I experimented with two batches of meat – I browned one and put the other straight into the pot. The latter turned out to be the sweeter and cleaner-tasting, so I've stopped browning the meat for most of my stews these days. ... -beef-stew

I've made this stew twice now and greatly enjoy it.
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Re: Question - why flour meat before cooking?

Postby GeoCWeyer » Thu Jan 17, 2013 6:12 pm

When braising various meats I like to flour only one side. I brown both and after deglazing the pan place the meat floured side down. The end result is that the top side looks lovely on the plate and the floured bottom side has helped flavor and thicken the juices.
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Re: Question - why flour meat before cooking?

Postby Matilda L » Thu Jan 17, 2013 9:32 pm

Good for Jamie Oliver. I rarely brown meat when I'm making a casserole. There are some recipes that I do it for - but mostly, the meat goes in raw and comes out tasting fine.
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