Today I thought I’d talk a little about the Mailliard reaction, which is the fancy name for browning.  We all know that browning improves the flavor of stews, grilled foods and even bread.  It a complex process but put simply the Maillard reaction (/mˈjɑːr/ my-YARFrench: [majaʁ]) is a chemical reaction between amino acids and reducing sugars that gives browned food its distinctive flavor. Seared steaks, fried dumplings, cookies and other kinds of biscuits, breads, toasted marshmallows, and many other foods undergo this reaction. It is named after French chemist Louis-Camille Maillard, who first described it in 1912 while attempting to reproduce biological protein synthesis.

What’s really important for cooks to know is that this reaction cannot take place in the presence of water.   This means that if you want browning and enhanced flavor you have to dry whatever you are working with: steaks, chops, chicken etc.  Sometime we even dry a whole chicken overnite in the fridge, so the skin will be crispy and delicious.