Kenji has taught me many great things about preparing meat, but that I should salt the meat and then wait a goodly while is apparently one of the most important. Here is why: I had two nice NY strips to make, and I was planning to pan fry them. I salted them generously and then left them in the fridge for about two hours. When it came time to cook them, I salted again (salt is great) and peppered, got a stainless steel pan smoking hot, and then pan fried. I don't know exactly how I miscalculated, I think I failed to take into account how very, very thin the steaks were, but I overcooked the hell out of them. They had just the faintest bit of pink inside, and I thought: I have created dog food. I have betrayed my girlfriend who was counting on me to make good steaks, and I have disgraced the cow who gave her life so I could have this meal.
But wait! When the steaks were cut and plated amongst their vegetables, we bit into them and they were really really juicy! As juicy as a steak cooked by someone much smarter than I! While this may just be some kind of beef miracle, I believe it is a result of the salting, the waiting, and then giving both steaks a reasonable rest after cooking. Though they were overcooked, they still had the power to retain moisture, and tasted great. Furthermore they had a great crust from having the hell fried out of them, so it was actually a great steak experience overall. The lesson is this: The pre-salting and waiting is important not just because it will make a properly cooked steak better. It is also important because it may save a steak you screw up.
I was trying to find a really good beer cooler in which to do sous vide. I did a lot of research and read a lot of reviews, most of which did center around temperature retention, but naturally they focused on the power of the cooler to keep things cold. I ended up going with a cooler that was in my price range, just about exactly the right size, and with some excellent consumer reviews of its ability to keep things cold. The cooler, nevertheless, kinda sucks for sous vide. It loses about 3.15 degree farenheit per hour if it starts at 140 degrees, and what's worse, during my first cooking project water evaporated through the plug in the lid's vacuum seal and got inside the lid, so probably it's a little ruined since now there is air and water in the lid. I'm disappointed (it's the Igloo Ice Cube 14-can capacity cooler). I think I'm going to be able to return it since I think the lid thing is a big defect, but can anyone recommend a superior cooler? All the fanciest and best ones are just too huge.
I was looking at today's article on unorthodox pizza toppings and one of them was black garlic. I've never had the stuff but I love garlic and I tend to love fermented things. I live in NYC so it would be no great challenge to go to chinatown and buy some, but I looked up ordering it just for the hell of it and noticed that it is, of course, really expensive. I then looked up how to make it, and the methods I saw mostly consisted of keeping it at 130-140 in an airtight container for 40 days, citing such methods as put them in an off-oven (where the pilot light will keep them warm) or a rice cooker on the 'warm' setting. But when I hear low temperature for a long time and air-tight, I think sous vide. Is there any reason I couldn't do this via the beer-cooler sous vide method, provided I kept the water updated? Is there some scientific or practical reason why this wouldn't work?
My girlfriend and I were discussing our favorite cocktail, the Boulevardier. It's easy to make and you should all try it, 1 part bourbon, one part campari and one part red vermouth. Shake with ice and serve up, and I usually add a dash of water to the shaker just because it's my preference. My girlfriend commented that it was the first drink she ever liked that was all liquor.
Cocktail fans: Do you remember the first cocktail you liked that was entirely liquor? Does it remain unique in your heart, or did it open you up to others?
Two questions for the community:
1) If you had to eat someplace INSIDE New York Penn Station, where would you eat and why?
2) Where is your favorite place to eat very near New York Penn Station? I'll let individual responders decide how near is 'very near.'
Have you ever ruined a recipe by trying to make it a little healthier? It's embarrassing but I'll bet it's happened to a lot of us: You look at something you want to make and then you're blown away by how much butter it has. In an effort to avert a coronary, you cut it back a little bit-- only to discover that all that butter is what made it good. Any stories of trying to cut back or substitute a delicious but unhealthy ingredient, only to find that the result was bad food?
Among those of us who dig on swine, there is a general consensus that bacon is delicious and versatile. It goes on almost everything, it's cheap, and it has a place in almost every tier of cuisine. The problem is that bacon, as the Bacon (nee Cookie) Monster would say, is only a sometimes food. It's much too rich to realistically eat every day: Turkey bacon, on the other hand, you can eat regularly without having to lie to your doctor about it.
Here's the thing: Is it worth it? Is turkey bacon just a sad bacon facsimile, or is it a food with its own identity? Do we eat turkey bacon only when we'd rather be eating bacon? Is there anyone who actually prefers turkey bacon, and not just for health reasons? Bacon has a special place in all of our hearts (left ventricle) but is there room for its less sumptuous cousin?
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