MaillardThe Maillard reaction is one of the most convenient and flavorful effects of introducing heat to proteins.   During this process, as the amino acids found within meats are introduced to heat, they begin to denature and rearrange themselves.  This not only causes meats to brown on their surfaces, but creates wonderful savory flavors and aromas.  In my mind, though, one of the most beneficial aspects of this reaction is that it has a built-in non-stick effect.  Whether one is cooking on a grill, or in a saute pan, the Maillard reaction will occur if one allows it to.  When the protein is allowed enough contact with the surface of the grill, or the pan, it will eventually release on its own and can then easily be turned over without sticking to that surface.  This is important, as flavor can be lost if the browned portion of the protein ends up stuck to the cooking surface rather than the meat itself.

So, how can one tell if the Maillard reaction has sufficiently occurred and the protein is ready to be turned/removed from the heat surface?  It’s easy; if when lightly pulled upon, the meat seams as if it wants to stick to the heating surface, leave it alone.  Allow a few more minutes of cooking time and try again.  The meat will easily release from the cooking surface once browning has occurred.  We are often tempted to turn meat before it is ready.  Just be patient and the rewards will be worth the time!


  1. Malita says

    Huh, I never knew that – so no non stick pans needed, which is good because I’m all about cast iron pans now

    • chefbradley says

      Non-stick pans are definitely more convenient for certain foods like eggs, but not always necessary. I’ve been told salting will also help. This article is interesting; talks about speeding up the process, but focuses on other types of foods. Might have to try the baking soda in onions…

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