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acertain

  • Location: Seattle, WA

The real reason for the "plateau" in cooking BBQ

Good point. Thanks for the info!

Andrew

Deep-Fried Sous-Vide 36-Hour All-Belly Porchetta


I'm heading over to a friend's for Thanksgiving, and I'm not sure I will be able to pull off the deep-frying at his house. What about finishing on a rotisserie under a broiler? Will it just take too long to get the skin crisp and overcook the rest? What if you put it in the fridge overnight after the sous-vide? If not, what about a 500-degree oven after the sous-vide?

Has anybody tried anything like this?

Thanks for any advice you have.

The Food Lab: How to Make All-Belly Porchetta, the Ultimate Holiday Roast

@eakidane

I made this on a lark a while ago, and I didn't have time to special-order a belly with rib meat, so I just had them cut a pork loin roast to be the same length as the belly. I butterflied the roast into thirds and rolled it up and then rolled the belly around it. I don't know if it would work better than just using the belly, but you sure get a lot more food out of it.

Andrew

Perfect Prime Rib

See the updated article and recipe.

Andrew

Perfect Prime Rib

Sorry I wasn't clear; my question was "is the sterilization-via-blowtorch what he's counting on to kill all pathogens?" And if you have completely sterilized the meat, does it matter if the oven fluctuates a bit, or does his oven hold within a degree or so?

Thanks.

Perfect Prime Rib

Thanks. I'll try the boiling water. I was thinking about the former (since it looks like fun), but the latter seems easier and more foolproof.

So when Heston Blumenthal cooks his at 120, he's counting on having completely sterilized the outside of the meat? And then if you've done that, I guess it doesn't matter if the oven doesn't hold precisely, eh?

Perfect Prime Rib

The roast I bought had the meat separated from the bone and then tied back on. I'm concerned that this process leaves the possibility of that cut being contaminated, and the slow cooking could allow any bacteria there to multiply and not be killed off by the blast of heat at the end. Should I be concerned about that? What if I were able to cook in an oven that could hold a 120F temp?

Thanks.

Andrew

The Food Lab: The Best Guacamole (and the Science of Avocados)


Cumin. If you don't have cumin, there's no way it's the "best ever." Enough said.

Andrew

The Food Lab: How to Make All-Belly Porchetta, the Ultimate Holiday Roast


Kenji,

Thanks for the clarification. Is there a typo in the slideshow, then? The text accompanying slide 12 reads, "I discovered that an overnight rub with baking powder and salt actually resulted in crisper skin by lowering the pH of the skin and causing some of its proteins to break down more readily." If you're making it alkaline, aren't you raising the pH?

Also, thanks for all the food science. I've been a fan ever since the pie-crust recipe.

Andrew

The Food Lab: How to Make All-Belly Porchetta, the Ultimate Holiday Roast


Kenji,

Why are you using baking powder as the rub? Isn't it close to neutral pH? What about the classic cooking dry acid, cream of tartar?

Andrew

Sous-Vide Steaks

@foobar

Always willing to admit I'm wrong. I personally will stick with water (easier to regulate the temp), but I guess the high heat capacity of the food must even out the fluctuating air temps. Notice that he does char the outside of the meat with a blowtorch in part to kill any bacteria on the surface.

Sous-Vide Steaks

jackie69 (assuming that my handle got spell-corrected to ascertain and you were addressing my comment),

Sorry if my comment wasn't clear, but I was directing my comments at MarkBiochem, who cooked his meat in an 128F oven. I've cooked several times using the beer-cooler hack to marvelous results. Water has a high specific heat capacity and a high thermal conductivity, which allows the food to reach the temperature of the surrounding water quickly and remain precisely there. Air has low specific heat capacity and low thermal conductivity. If you put meat in a 128F oven, the food will neither get up to temperature quickly nor remain precisely there. Again, if you want to try it, I'm not going to stop you, but I would caution people against cooking at low temperatures without a high capacity/conductivity medium such as water (poaching in oil held at a low temperature is another example).

Sous-Vide Steaks

I would not recommend anybody cook meat in an oven at 128F for an extended period of time. I'm glad that you didn't get sick, but anybody considering that method I would encourage to do some food-safety research both on this site and others before attempting. There are two main problems. First, air isn't an efficient conductor of heat, so air at 128 degrees isn't going to keep the meat at 128 degrees. Second, 128 degrees is just shy of where bacterial growth stops. As Kenji wrote elsewhere, if you're not willing to take on some risk for pleasurable eating, you should consider becoming a vegan; however, this method seems like more risk than it's worth.

Ice the Turkey Breast?


I find that starting the turkey breast down is enough to make sure that they come to temp appropriately.

How do you get your pizza off of the peel and onto the stone??

Shake the peel between each addition (after the sauce, after the cheese, after each topping). Just jiggle it back and forth enough so to unstick the dough from the peel. If you're still getting sticking and don't want to add more flour, shake it in the middle of each addition as well as between.

How to Roast a Pig on a Spit


What serendipity. I've been a fan since the pie-dough recipe (one of the greatest popular food-science articles ever), and I happen to be doing a whole hog this weekend! My friend is the idea (and money) guy, and he wanted a 150lb pig. Now it's up to me, the execution guy, to figure out how to cook it. The main thing I'm struggling with right now is whether or not to brine. I had been going back and forth about whether it's worth it and whether it would really work, and would appreciate any advice.

First, the CI "universal formula" for brine states that the mixture should not exceed 2 gallons. Obviously, more than that would be needed for a 150lb pig. Do you know why that comment is there? Does the salt concentration need to be reduced?

My plan was to brine in the bathtub in an ice bath to keep the temp down. I would just add ice as necessary to keep it cold, draining out some of the brine and adding salt as well if the concentration dropped too much. On the other hand, this seems like a bit of overkill, and maybe I should just skip brining.

I also considered salting as I've tried with turkeys. Any thoughts on that? I assume I'd need to rub under the skin and then rinse off before cooking. I'm worried that with such a large "cut" it wouldn't be effective. Certainly much simpler, though.

If I don't brine, your comment to salt inside and out - does that mean right before putting on the fire, or before? Also, I assume that's on top of the skin.

Given the amount of time and expense, I'd rather err on the side of it not being perfect than shoot for the moon and have it ruined by being too salty or mushy or whatever.

We're picking up the pig today and cooking on Saturday (well, starting Friday night), so I have up to two days to brine. Thanks so much for any suggestions you have.

Andrew

6 Things Every Griller Needs


While it's much more expensive than a Weber, I love my Big Green Egg. I have the XL, which has a 24-inch diameter cooking grid (they claim room for 11 whole chickens). It's also super-efficient in its use of charcoal; I've slow-cooked pork shoulders for 16 hours without replenishing the coals (and there was still plenty of charcoal left when I shut it down). Because it's ceramic, you get heat coming from all sides, which makes it great for pizza, and it has great heat retention, so you can cook effectively at very low temps (I've smoked Salmon on it at around 180 degrees).

I love it and can't imagine being without one again.

Andrew

The real reason for the "plateau" in cooking BBQ

I had to delete my eloquent writing on NC BBQ because of space limitations, but in any event, that is not what my question is about. As I go about cooking my BBQ and reading about cooking BBQ, I read a lot about "the plateau," and that is the focus of my question.

According to the folk wisdom, pork shoulder will plateau at anywhere from 170-190 degrees Fahrenheit. Again according to the folk wisdom, at this temperature, the heat from the charcoal is rendering the fat, or connective tissue, or whatever, and once this happens we should just be patient and allow this "low-and-slow" cooking to happen. The promised reward is perfect BBQ.

But I've been thinking about this premise, and thinking about my actual experience, and I am having some doubts. In the first place, what I've seen with my own cooks is that when I raise the charcoal temp (with my Stoker), the meat temp raises as well. The meat temp trails the ambient temp, but if one moves up or down, the other does the same. If the energy was strictly going to rendering, you wouldn't expect that.

Secondly, I've been thinking about wet-bulb versus dry-bulb temperature. And what I'm wondering, then, is if the plateau is just the dessication of the outer layer of meat so that the effective temperature is closer to the dry-bulb than the wet-bulb.

For example, if you're cooking at sea level in a 250-degree cooker with 25% humidity, the wet-bulb temperature will be only 185 degrees. So if you stick a shoulder in there, it will not get any hotter than 185 degrees until all the water evaporates from the surface, and then it will start climbing towards 250.

I'm almost out of characters, but Kenji, as my favorite food writer/scientist and fellow lover of pork, I would expect you to rise to the challenge. Is the "plateau" in BBQ simply the difference between the wet-bulb and dry-bulb temperatures before the outer later of meat is dessicated, or is there something more going on?

I look forward to your report.

Andrew

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