I made an error today in the kitchen. A very simple but serious error. I removed an elk eye of round from the fridge, rolled it in crushed aniseed and szechuan peppercorn, then rubbed on Pam’s grandma’s mustard prior to browning it in a hot pan. My previous mustard crust was one of my best culinary accomplishments of the recent past. But this time, it bombed. Why? I DID NOT WARM MY MEAT TO ROOM TEMP BEFORE BEGINNING. Do not make this error. Just being anal? No. This is a big deal. Throwing slightly moist cold meat into a hot pan is bad news – especially for crusting or browning. If you want to really destroy the potential of your dish, over-crowd your pan on top of this previous sin.
Here’s why I think this is a big deal. You’re asking meat around the exterior to come up to temperature fast in hot oil so that it carmelizes and crisps up. If you take a frozen slab of meat and try to brown it, you get water shedding, mush, and no crispy nice things. When the meat’s room temp, it doesn’t have too far to go to crisp up, and can do so nice and quickly. For some reason, this makes a very big difference in the quality of the end product. It’s the difference between ‘edible, i can eat it and it’s okay’ and ‘wow, I have to make that again’. Take my word for it. For the love of god.